I’ve been racking my brains about what I could write this week’s blog about but coming up blank because the constant rain has curtailed much of our gardening activities here at Chartwell recently. It’s not that we don’t like getting wet of course, it’s just that soggy turf doesn’t make for good mowing and waterlogged soil doesn’t like being trampled on, to name but two reasons why heavy rain makes gardening a little tricky.
Don’t worry, we’ve still been keeping busy! Apart from all of the propagation tasks in the glass houses and potting sheds such as pricking out, potting on, sowing seeds etc, we’ve still been able to do a spot of edging, weeding along the front of the borders and tieing in the odd growing Clematis stem for instance. None of these tasks would make a particularly interesting blog on the their own though perhaps. So instead, I’m going to talk about the rain itself and the effect that it can have on gardens like Chartwell.
Ironically, given all this recent precipitation, we have been talking recently about how the hose pipe ban that is imposed on us is rumoured to be lasting up until December at least! That won’t be such a worry for us as it might for some other gardens because we recycle the water from our lakes, ponds and underground springs, as well as harvesting as much rain water as we possibly can. When I spent some time at the Chelsea Physic Garden recently, I found that they have just spent a lot of money and effort installing a 100m bore-hole pump so they can still water their plants during the ban. It seems as if Kew Gardens is one of the only gardens in the region that is exempt from not be able to use hosepipes. Even the Queen’s gardeners at Buckingham Palace are having to find other ways of irrigation.
We have a weather station here at Chartwell that we use to measure temperature and humidity both outdoors and in our unheated glass house. We also have a rain gauge that has been a little overworked in recent weeks! We had 13.9mm of rain today (Wednesday) and 67.4mm in April so far. This is a drastic rise from the early part of 2012 when we only had 19.5mm in March, 8mm in February and 39.5 in January. We hope to use the recordings from our weather equipment to find patterns in the seasonal changes and also to look back and find out why some plants may have thrived or struggled at various times in the year.
We all know of course that water is needed by plants to stop them wilting. This stage is known as the temporary wilting point and it is a reversible state. Once a plant reaches permanent wilting point though, it will not recover. This all happens because water is a major constituent of the cytoplasm within the plant cells, providing turgor pressure and tissue support. However, water is also a primary requirement for photosynthesis (production of sugars) and respiration (the release of energy from these sugars). Water is also a solvent to move minerals and other products around the plant.
So you won’t find us complaining about all this rain we’ve been having recently. In fact, if you want to to come and experience our gardens in a more personal and private way, now is a great time to experience Chartwell when it’s a little quieter. Put on your waterproofs or dodge the showers and come and enjoy all the lush, green growth with us soon!