Date(s) - 08/06/2018
Kilmington Village Hall
Gardening for Climate Change
Gold Club Speaker
Michael Burks has been coming to talk to the gardening club in Kilmington for more than 20 years. Speaking without notes or illustrations, he held the audience’s full attention, making them think and laugh at the same time. Since climate change first entered our talks programme, advice has covered both drought and deluge. Over the past 20 years climate has become more changeable and, as a result, understanding specific needs of plants has become more important.
Michael’s advice was structured and clear. He started with soil, his overriding message being ‘look after it’. Add humus to aid drainage and bulk; keep off it as much as possible; use raised beds where practicable; and feed the soil at the right time and for the right reasons. Equally important is the familiar advice of ‘right plant, right place’. Plants on the table in front of him were used as illustrations: lavender can withstand heat and cold in a dry site; camellias deprived of summer rain will suffer bud drop the following spring; bedding plants can be toughened up by using less heat in the greenhouse. Advice came thick and fast. Watering was next on the list. It is always good practice to save water and to use it wisely, installing water butts and using seep hoses rather than sprinklers. In a dry summer, meadow lawns with paths may be more suited to the climate.
Finally, changes in temperature encourage new pests and diseases to invade our gardens. Among recent arrivals are the leek moth now causing problems in the south of England, Xylella, a bacterium that causes serious diseases in fruit trees, and the fungus causing the recent incidence of ash dieback. Ending on a positive note, Michael argued that gardeners are most important when dealing with the effects of variations in climate – they are the first to notice the changes and then cope with them.