Gardeners told to try the dry life for a splash of colour

Dust bowl: Cultivate a taste for Mediterranean plants and acres of paving ready for drought, the water companies warn

JOJO MOYES

Gardeners attacking their borders this weekend should bury their desire for a Venetian sunken garden. The garden of the future is more of a Gobi desert in the grounds, with Mediterranean herb borders.

Despite one of the coldest, wettest Mays in memory, low cumulative levels of rainfall mean that the traditional British garden, complete with verdant lawn, bedding plants and vegetable patch may soon take on a slightly less lush appearance.

Earlier this month customers in the Severn Trent area were advised to pave over lawns in stead of watering them to conserve water.

And this week more than 200,000 households in Sussex faced an indefinite ban on the use of sprinklers. Southern Water yesterday insisted on water meters for those with sprinklers and swimming pools, saying the shortage of rain has made the situation more critical than it was in drought-ridden 1976.

In anticipation of another long, dry summer the company is urging gardeners to swap thirsty English flowers for plants from hot countries to reduce water consumption.

It has sent out 33,000 leaflets suggesting that customers buy plants from arid climates - such as yuccas - to cut down on the use of hosepipes and sprinklers, and reduce the need for water restrictions.

"Last summer there was a hosepipe ban in part of the region and we were conscious that it was inconvenient to gardeners," said a spokeswoman.

"We wrote to all customers in the Spring before any possibility of water restrictions. Leaflets were sent out in response to requests on a freephone number. In addition to that we have made leaflets available through garden centres. We wanted to make sure that people were able to enjoy their gardens," she said.

The leaflet, illustrated with a picture of a giant cactus, has been written by Meridian television gardener Richard Jackson. As well as advocating drought-friendly plants such as yucca, sage and lavender, he advocates filling the traditionally empty areas between flowers with mulch to prevent moisture-loss.

Bedding plants, pride of gardens everywhere, will be less welcome in the "dry" garden, as will fragrant camelias, rhododendrons and azaleas, all of which thrive in the damp, he said yesterday.

"People are already having problem with their buds falling off these plants after a summer of dry conditions," he said.

According to Doug Parsons of the National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners, areas such as the vegetable patch are also unlikely to benefit.

"The most subject to drought conditions is the cauliflower and the Brassica range, which includes cabbages," he said. "Potatoes initially don't need any water, but do once they're marble sized."

Ironically, it may be the laziest gardeners who benefit most from the drier conditions.

"A lot of people nowadays want labour-free gardens and they're planting shrubs - which don't require a lot of water because they search for it - and laying mulch on the surface to cut down on weeds," Mr Parsons said. "In drought conditions, they will do very well."

At risk in dry

Fern

Bugle

Primula

Thrive in drought

Poppy

Yucca

Lavender

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

Day In a Page

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own
Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England