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Plant choice and lack of rain in recent years

coccinellacoccinella LuxembourgPosts: 242
Good morning. How many plants have you thrown or given away, say, in the last 3/4 years because said plants needed too much water? So far I had to renounce to 3 hydrangeas and 2 big, established rhododendrons. I still have one rhododendron (over 30 years old inherited from previous owners, planted in shade) but it is not working hard enough for his upkeep really. I also have a Fothergilla that, come June, it will be constantly thirsty but at least it has pretty leaves in autumn (if I water it in summer). I should perhaps add that my water is metered. I live in Luxembourg, it used to be rainy here.
When down go out and buy a packet of seeds


  • AthelasAthelas CambridgeshirePosts: 669
    edited April 2021
    The climate here in the UK is more rainy (however we’re now having an unusually dry, cold April), so I haven’t had to get rid of plants that needed too much watering. The way the weather is going now, having drought tolerant plants is probably a practical choice. After they got established, I’ve rarely — if ever — had to water my pittosporum shrubs, hebes, epimediums, hellebores, ferns (Polystichum polyblepharum), cotoneaster, euonymus, carex, rosemary, thyme or lavender.

    You can get some inspiration from Beth Chatto’s gravel garden for drought resistant plants:
  • KeenOnGreenKeenOnGreen Posts: 1,706
    This is about the third recent Spring where we have had no decent rain for about 2 months (in London).  It is becoming the norm, and we are getting more frequent mini-heatwaves, with 30c+ temperatures in Summer.  We are also on a meter.

    Rather than get rid of specific plants, we have reduced the planting area in our garden by about 50%.  That was mainly driven by it being too much work, in addition to our allotment, but the large amounts of water it required were also a concern.

    We got rid of our garden pond, as we couldn't collect enough rain water for it, and we also got rid of our woodland garden and rockery.  We won't buy any new plants that are water-hungry.  We will move more towards shrubs in future years, and reduce the number of thirsty perennials.
  • coccinellacoccinella LuxembourgPosts: 242
    Yes I agree that we will have to change our way of gardening. I am sorry that you had to get rid of your pond KeeonGreen, at one point I had thought of making one but now I am glad I didn't. Our winters are much colder than in England Athelas, whenever I have been there I remarked on how advanced flowering is compared to here. 
    I am not that fond of rhododendrum,  but it is a bit sad to rip out established plants. In its place I will probably plant another holly from the babies born all over my garden.

    The neighbours must think I am nuts: every morning I lower a bucket of water from the upstairs bathroom window. :D It is the 7/8 litres of cold water that would otherwise be wasted before my shower gets hot!! 
    When down go out and buy a packet of seeds
  • MolamolaMolamola BelgiumPosts: 99
    Following this thread with interest because I'm planning plants for my north-facing, enclosed garden in Belgium.  On my list are rhododendron luteum, hydrangeas, sarcococca and viburnums because they will (I hope) flourish in full to part shade, but it's true that our springs and summers have been increasingly dry, so don't want them to struggle. @coccinella, is your quite bright/south-facing? 
  • B3B3 South East LondonPosts: 22,833
    I have a hydrangea that I wish I hadn't bought - much less taken cuttings from. Now I have three unsuitable plants. I won't get rid of them but try (up to a point) to keep them ticking over. I have to really hate a plant before I throw it out . It happens sometimes but not often😊
    In London. Keen but lazy.
  • coccinellacoccinella LuxembourgPosts: 242
    Hi Molamola, nice to talk to a "neighbour" :).  The rhododendrums in question were/are on a north facing front garden. The main problem is that they are near the house wall so no much water going down there.  Also it is on a small piece of land that is in the middle of two driveways. The holly next to them instead is thriving, such an unfussy plant. The Hydrangea were in a semi-shade part of a south-west facing garden, again, not a good idea, they had to go.  I also have viburnum and some new sarcococca (still small so I am watering). The viburnums face north west but they seem to be very happy and I only water them occasionally. 
    When down go out and buy a packet of seeds
  • MolamolaMolamola BelgiumPosts: 99
    Thanks Coccinella! Yes indeed (:

    That's rather encouraging - I'll just make sure to plant away from the wall.  I confess my garden is blessed with a large rainwater cistern, but my ambition is for the garden to be as self-sufficient as possible (especially water-wise), although I accept that I will need to do pruning, mulching, and some weeding and feeding.
  • AthelasAthelas CambridgeshirePosts: 669
    There are interesting articles about designing a rain garden to make the most of the rain rather than losing it to runoff.

    And this one is just an image as the website doesn’t seem to exist now:

  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 28,202
    It's not just dry springs we need to worry about but also having too much rain at once so we risk flooding.

    The RHS offers this advice on water management with links that can be followed to more -

    You can also use their plant finder facility to research drought resistant plants that suit your soil, aspect, temperature range etc 

    and they offer this advice on gardening with drought:

    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • CeresCeres Posts: 2,135
    edited April 2021
    There is a list of suitable plants.
    I think a lot of us are going to have to change our gardening style in view of climate change and the past two summers have certainly shown which plants are capable of dealing with drought and heat.

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