Claire Marrack reports from the Burial Ground garden.
July has been the driest and warmest month since records began. However, despite the lack of rain and intense heat, the burial ground continues to provide a wonderful display of colour as the later perennials come into flower. Some of the plants are thriving in the hot dry conditions – plants such as verbena bonariensis, echinacea, echinops, salvias and fennel. The hollyhocks are growing taller by the day and their wide-open flowers attract many insects. In addition the repeat flowering roses are now in their second flush, and the Quaker star rose has been particularly prolific.
Apart from the paths which are regularly mown, the grass has been allowed to grow long, and in the wildflower areas many of the flowers have been replaced with seedheads. This creates a sense of movement in the garden and a gentle rustle in the air when the wind blows. The dominant wildflower is now the native white achillea.
Sadly the older trees are not fairing so well due to the continued dry conditions. The Paulownia tree is slowly dying and is likely to be removed so that the Holm oak will no longer need to compete for scarce water.
We are mindful that we are having to adapt and change the way we garden and maintain the Burial Ground as we go forward. Planting will need to be done in the autumn to benefit from winter rains, and increasingly we will have to plant drought-tolerant species in order to conserve what water we have.
Our young Friend Rowena is currently helping us with the design of the proposed shelter and we hope we can now move forward with this. We are also currently in the process of planning and preparing for our open day in September. There is always plenty of gardening to be done and we would welcome any volunteers to join us. Please see the website for future gardening dates.