How to create a hardy garden
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Piled high with snow, absolutely soaking, attacked by frosts, then drought, then more water. We expect our gardens to cope with a lot in the east of England, but is there anything we can do to help?
Our Norfolk and Suffolk gardens may be used to extremes of British weather, but this year has already been more testing than most.
Some plants, however, are better able to cope with snow, wet and drought conditions than others, and almost seem to thrive when weather challenges are thrown at them.
Growing drought-resistant plants such as scented leaf geraniums, rosemary, thyme, sage and lavender keeps colour and interest in the garden, and they seem capable of resisting frost, snow and some waterlogging too.
Winter hardy plants which bounce back in the summer, and survive lack of rain too, include jasmine, clematis and honeysuckle and, many gardeners report, dahlias seem to cope well too.
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Wild blue cornflowers will self-seed every year, adjusting their size according to how much rain we've had, and other wild flowers and plants such as teasels seem to be doing particularly well in this year of extremes too.
Plants such as the bold and spiky yucca gloriosa will usually happily survive drought and, if temperatures drop gradually, should be hardy enough to get through a harsh winter. If temperatures plummet, cover with a cloth or blanket and then plastic to protect.
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If you have room in a conservatory, or large enough heated greenhouse, you can still grow large tender plants for the summer in pots and tuck them away from the frost for winter. Try pots planted with hibiscus, lemons or oleanders, which are all happy in drought-like conditions. They do need to be kept frost free however.
We can help in the garden with all weather landscaping, such as stepping stone paths across lawns so we don't walk on the grass when it's at its most vulnerable. Stragtegically place small slabs in deep flower beds to help when trying to get to those difficult to reach spots when planting or weeding.
Fences can help protect from wind and garden structures, such as pergolas, arches and sheds, give clambering and climbing plants a firm foundation to scramble up. Strong growing rambling roses work well over structures, along with hardy plants such as honeysuckle.
If greenery is the preferred option, box, privet and yew can be planted from early autumn through to winter and deciduous hedges such as beech, hawthorn and hornbeam can be planed any time from leaf fall to late winter.
For more inspiration, check out the digital edition of Beautiful Homes & Gardens.