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New meadow in South Downs explores impact of climate change



New meadow in South Downs explores impact of climate change

A drought-tolerant experimental meadow has been introduced at one of the National Park’s horticultural attractions to learn more about the impact of climate change.

As the UK records its highest temperatures on record and officially declared a drought, it seems timely that West Dean Gardens, near Chichester, has created a meadow that is covered in recycled stone mulch.

Tom Brown, Head Gardener, explained: “Over recent summers, we’re becoming increasingly aware of how much water we use in our gardens, and the need to explore a new range of plants that require less resources to grow and most importantly look beautiful and attract pollinators.

“With this in mind; we have grown a number of deep-rooted and drought tolerant perennials to make up a new meadow which can be used to teach people at our College about gardening with less water”.

And Tom added: “Normally people think of drought tolerant plants being cactus and agave, however these flowers and plants are colourful and have benefits to wildlife, so we are planning to collect all the seeds later in the year, building their numbers and growing plants to be sold in the shop next year.”

Nestled at the foot of the South Downs, West Dean Gardens is one of the finest restored gardens open to the public today. The venue includes an impressive collection of working Victorian Glasshouses, a 300 foot pergola, and a spring garden with flint bridges.

For those interested in  learning more about how to work with climate change in their gardens, landscape designer Mark Laurence will discuss ‘Designing gardens for climate adaptation’ in a garden lecture on Sunday, 4 September.

Groundwater from the South Downs supplies drinking water to well over 1m people on the south coast. For more information about water conservation visit www.southdowns.gov.uk/5-simple-steps-protect-water/