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Date(s) - 08/03/2019
7:30 pm

Kilmington Village Hall


In the wake of one of the driest summers on record, Martin’s talk explored how to identify plants which could thrive in dry conditions and yet give a year-round display of colour. The first picture to appear was a soil map of East Devon demonstrating that the soil in Shute is quite different from Kilmington, more acid and less water retentive. Lesson One – understand your soil! Plants were dealt with in groups – alpines, perennials, shrubs and grasses, with explanations of why certain plants cope better than others. Leaves are important indicators: leaves of succulents store water; silver and grey leaves are more drought resistant, as are narrow or hairy leaves. Many of these features are seen in Mediterranean plants which have evolved to survive in low rainfall areas.

Plant names and illustrations followed, all accompanied by Martin’s expert growing tips. Among the succulents, sedums are gardeners’ favourites, with fleshy leaves in white and silver as well as shades of green, and long-lasting flowers. They require minimum care – just cut down to new rosettes in early spring. Recommendations included thrift, pinks, lavender and rosemary; and among the ones to avoid were hostas, hydrangeas, loosestrife and monarda. Although most grasses are drought tolerant, sedges such as carex fare badly without damp roots. As for lawns, let them go brown – they should revive in the winter.

As he went through his chosen plants, Martin offered us more advice. Lesson Two – get your plants off to a good start. Soak the hole as well as the pot before planting and mulch after watering it in. When using mulch to aid moisture retention over a larger area, water the ground well before spreading the bark or compost. And as there is no better water than rain, we should all have as many water butts as possible. Martin had brought with him plants for sale, many unusual and all irresistible. Keen to try something new, many members went home with a recommended plant to try out in their own gardens.

Sydie Bones