How will gardens cope with predicted heat wave?

HW polled professionals on the impact of forecast record high temperatures this summer.

"This really is crunch time for gardens. We are only beginning to see the full extent of the harsh winter as everything begins to grow again and even those borderline but well-established plants we all thought had come through unscathed suddenly give up the ghost.

"True horticulturists are adaptable and resourceful individuals with more resolve and dogged determination than a couple of hard winters can break.

"There will be many shrewd choices ahead and certain groups of plants that require copious amounts of water may have to give way to more naturalistic plantings."

- Ben Turner, plant adviser, Haskins

"Many plants will no doubt pull through, but people need to select the right plant for the right place.

"Gardeners need to grow what is appropriate for their area. It is important to consider climate, the soil and all other factors to make informed planting decisions.

"If people are buying plants in from elsewhere, they need to consider how well those plants will establish in their own gardens.

"Gardeners need to make use of the expertise of the industry when choosing plants and hold back on impulse buying, with a move towards more careful and considered selection."

Chris Bird, lecturer, Sparsholt College

"The winter has been severe and this transition from cold and wet to hot and dry is a worst-case scenario.

"This is a challenging time for plants - roots have only just started moving, transpiration is high and we have had no rain for a month. Any plants already on their way out will go for sure.

"We must be optimistic. Losses simply mean space for something else. However, credible plantspeople need to offer sound advice and be careful just how far they push the boundaries. Integrity, a balanced approach and knowing the customer are all crucial."

- Christine Walkden, plantswoman and broadcaster

"Plants are adaptable and this is why we are able to grow such a wide range in this country.

"Gardening is about having a range of plants to work with - it would be a shame to reduce or 'dump down' the possibilities. Tender, exotic plants have suffered and the decision to plant something more suited to the environment will need careful consideration.

"You can't plant a desert in a forest or vice versa, so why attempt it? People expect everything to be made of plastic - they want their plants to be perfect no matter what. So much of the subtly of gardening is lost on some people."

- Tony Smith, artist and designer


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