Weathermen have very strict rules on seasons. The meteorological winter starts on 1 December and ends on 28th February. That’s so they can compare monthly average weather from year to year as well as from season to season. This last winter average was 3.8 ºC – just 0.1ºC above the average for the last 30 years*. It was also around 20% sunnier than average in Lambeth.
Of course, the previous year was the UK’s hottest ever and the winter average was a whopping 5.2ºC. Because our whole years’ are getting much warmer than they were BPCG is planning a Hot! border in Brockwell Park’s Walled Garden this year.
Fifty years ago, the RHS suggested that Melianthus major was suitable only for sub-tropical bedding schemes in Cornwall. Twenty-five years ago, garden writer Graham Stuart Thomas advised that it could be grown only in the warmest counties. This year, you’ll find it in garden centres all over the country. It’s the same story for a whole range of species once thought too tender to survive outside.
We’re going to plant out a number of specimens that have been around the greenhouses for a number of years but that we haven’t really thought about a permanent site for. You may have seen some of these in the lower greenhouse last year: Our Hedychiums, Alpinias, Beschornerias not forgetting Melianthus major to name a few.
We’re also planting hot colours and exotic foliage for the border and feel sure that it will equal any of Battersea Park’s sub-tropical garden borders. Exotic gardens are certainly not new although much of John Gibson’s original garden at Battersea seems to have been greenhoused during winter. In the eighties, though, Tony Schilling planted out many of Kew’s Hedychiums at Wakehurst Place. And of course Christopher Lloyd replaced his mothers Rose Garden at Great Dixter with an Exotic Garden in 1993. We are following in distinguished footsteps. And we’ll be planting a Schilling collected ginger – H. ‘Tara’ named for his daughter. This has prospered at Wakehurst Place. Hardy bananas, of course, are to be found in gardens around the park.
There’s no doubt that Britain is getting warmer and Lambeth sits in one of the warmer spots in the country. The Walled Garden at around 35m elevation is just a bit cooler than land to the North never the less is well protected from the North and East. We expect most of our specimens to survive. This year we’re going to be paying more attention to our local weather and there will be temperature readings from the lower greenhouse so that we can see just how much help the greenhouse gives.
Our nearest climate weather centre is at Greenwich. You can see the Lambeth climate comparison page here http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/public/weather/climate/gcpuvmf5z . On average the coldest month is 0.5ºC warmer than it was for the avaerages 20 years ago. You might think February weather is awful but for plants this makes all the difference to how and when they grow.
We’ll keep you posted about our Hot! border.
Greenwich Park (Nearest climate station to Lambeth)
|Days of air frost (days)||Sunshine (hours)||Rainfall (mm)||Days of rainfall >= 1 mm (days)||Monthly mean wind speed at 10m (knots)|
Please note that station averages are only available for 1981-2010.
Lambeth site information:
- 51.492, -0.118
- 25 m above mean sea level
Greenwich Park site information:
- 51.477, 0.004
- 47 m above mean sea level
- 8.6 km from Lambeth