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Gardening for a new climate

01:00 Sun 17th Dec 2000 |

By Tom Gard

FROM bananas in Birmingham to palms in Perthshire, climate change is opening up a world of planting possibilities to gardeners. But is global warming really good news

There is no doubt that as our weather is becomes milder, all gardeners will have to adapt.

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At last year's Chelsea Flower Show, bougainvillea was as visible as clematis. Citrus trees vied for space alongside our traditional Northern Hemisphere fruits.

Plants like osteospermum, penstemon, dahlias and marigolds still go strong in our gardens in mid-November. This year, your herbaceous borders could feature Cape Lillies, Cannas and Ginger, alongside all the old standards.

But if this year is anything to go by, the predictions of sweltering Mediterranean summers might be a little off the mark. This summer was warm, but it was also humid, and whatever new exotics we chose may well have to be able to endure plenty of rain and satured soil as well.

There was something reassuring about the rules of thumb that used to apply to the gardening calendar.

For instance, many who followed the old adage of planting trees and shrubs in November will have found themselves planting in boggy, clinging soil, far from ideal conditions for roots to establish themselves.

On top of that is the threat from more high winds and gales, knocking over saplings before they have a chance to establish a foothold.

But damp and warm autumn and winter conditions are also perfect for traditional garden enemies. Many gardeners face problems with snails, blackspot and mildew. The milder climate is also proving a magnet to a host of undesirable tourists such as Conifer wasps, American Whitefly and other rarely catered-for diseases.

Add the constant threat of flooding, or at best waterlogging, and global warming looks increasingly like a double-edged sword for the gardener.

Is climate change a good or bad thing for the green-fingered brigade What changes - good or bad - are you making to your garden this year Click here to share your experiences with The AnswerBank community.

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