Currently in the London Road Station garden, water is the obsession. Our water rota seems to be working well, but it’s been hard getting enough water into our raised beds, the shady but dry ornamental garden, our herb planters and – most challenging of all – the planters at Preston Circus.
We’ve had no rain in Brighton for over three weeks (though allegedly, there was a sprinkling last night), and the temperatures have regularly been soaring above 28C. I registered 45C in my greenhouse ten days ago; even with shading, it was 38C.
The hot weather has been a fantastic boost to our plants after the cold and grey spring, but has required fairly intensive action to ensure reasonable growing conditions. We’ve had to refill our four water butts with tap water once already, and use a hose to drench both gardens.
We probably have as many water butts as we can site in the station gardens. We are working on getting a water butt sited near Preston Circus so we don’t always have to disturb the wonderful people at East Sussex Fire and Rescue.
The water butt in the shady garden has a tendency to produce smelly brown water even after a downpour. The water won’t damage our plants; it’s just a little unpleasant though the smell doesn’t linger for long. Our hunch is that the hopper through which the rainwater drains is clogged with leaves, and/or there is debris from the roof collecting in the down pipe. A great tip from the RHS: use old tights to filter water in the diverter.
In fact, old tights seem to be an essential piece of horticultural kit. I also use them for securing fruit trees to their posts, for tying in the wayward branches of climbing roses and other attachments where it’s important that branches do not rub hard against another surface, creating grazes which promote disease.