It hasn't been a particularly stunning summer here in the South of the South. I understand there are rumours of drought in the far north, but for us it has been quite the opposite. Having been spoiled last year with higher than average temperatures, we are now suffering from almost too much rain, and there's definitely not enough UV getting through.
So what can we do to alleviate any issues in the garden caused by such damp grey weather? We don't feel inclined to get out into the elements when it is pelting down. Working the ground isn't recommended anyway, as you do more damage than good to the soil structure. But all is not completely lost, and there are things you can do to keep your garden looking fresh and healthy.
The ideal advice, is that you should plan your garden in such a way as to be sure it can cope under extreme weather conditions at both ends of the spectrum. Look at your plant choices and placement, consider the options of shade vs shelter, sun vs frost exposure, damp and drought etc. But that is only good advice if you set up a garden from scratch. Given that most of us inherit our gardens from a previous occupant, how do we then get the best results from our efforts?
The first step is easy. OBSERVE. Observe your garden. Pay attention to it. Slow down and spend time watching how mother nature affects your garden and how your garden responds. Spend time thinking about where the sun is, how much shade do the plants get? Where does the water go when it rains? Is it wind blown or sheltered? All these things contribute to the overall health of your plants and your soil, and therefore to the presentation as a whole.
Next, consider the plants that you currently have in place. Are they happy and growing strong and healthy where they are? Or perhaps is it time to think about a change, and introduce something more suited to the site? Any good plant seller should be able to help you understand the right conditions for the plants you are purchasing, provided you can adequately explain the conditions you are dealing with.
If you do have to garden in damp conditions, it is a good idea to lay down a board to walk on so as not to compress the soil excessively. Don't prune or cut anything important in the damp as this can invite disease. Remove any soggy and rotting vegetation from the immediate area - this stuff is best in the compost and not sitting around your plants. Deadhead soggy dying blooms if the day is dry enough, this can prolong flowering in some plants and brighten the garden for a while longer.
Most importantly - MULCH your garden. Adding organic matter in the form of compost or mulch is the number one, hands down, absolute best thing you can do for your soil. It absorbs excess moisture while at the same time protecting the moisture in the soil from escaping under hot and dry conditions. It helps to moderate temperature fluctuations. It encourages beneficial insects and fungi to establish healthy life in your garden. It keeps weeds suppressed and makes them easier to remove. And it looks pretty! (However, I don't recommend using dyed and coloured mulch - you don't want to be introducing unknown chemical compounds into your environment.)
At the end of the day - weather is just weather and our gardens will cope with it, better than we do some days! Let me know how things are in your garden this month. Happy gardening!
I'm Kimberley, and I live in the beautiful South Island of New Zealand. I am very passionate about growing strong healthy plants that enrich us and our environment. Welcome to my place - feel free to look around!