In the garden with Nell Carr

Cistus purpureus

Good vibrations

DECEMBER 2015 | Nell Carr

A DRY SPRING this year is devastating for farmers and gardeners alike.

Farms have no surplus pasture to save for hay or silage and, for gardeners in towns, watering becomes very expensive.

There are few vegetables which can thrive without irrigation, except perhaps asparagus. This has continued to send up a succession of succulent spears with only the occasional dousing.

It is surprising just how much water a top-loading machine uses.

Washing water can be saved with a special hose from the drainpipe into 50Litre garbage bins. Soapy water from the first cycle can be used for washing paths and the car.

Rinsing water can be be poured around trees and shrubs, except for acid lovers like Rhododendrons and Camellias.

Mulching with autumn leaves, mushroom compost or pea straw both nourish the vegetables and keep the roots moist. But mulch should be kept well away from stems, and should never be dug in.

Potatoes should be well hilled up with earth to prevent greening of the growing tubers before mulching with a thick layer of straw.

There are many plants and shrubs which will resist dry periods. Members of the Cistaceae family from the Mediterranean countries of S.Europe can withstand long periods without water.

Among them are Cistus purpureus (pictured) and C. incanus, the latter grown very easily from cuttings, and the dwarf profuselyflowering Helianthemum (Sun Rose) – all flowering November and December.


 Mike Moores