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Six ways to keep cool! Enjoy the garden in hot weather this July & August.

Feeling hot in the garden?

Are you feeling hot? There's been quite a bit of heat lately. Perhaps you have realised that your garden has been planned to catch as much sun as possible. Shade seems unnecessary when the skies are generally grey.  It's not until the hot weather hits that we appreciate the value of cool, shady seats. They benefit from being situated in a part of the garden that is protected from sun.

The value of trees becomes obvious when the sun is beating down. Cool, shady places feel like oases. It really is true that the sun and hot weather can sap your energy. When you are exposed to external heat your body actually spends a lot of time trying to keep cool. Your heart beat might raise and your metabolic rate too. The result of all this invisible activity is tiredness. Even if all you have been doing is just sitting (chance would be a fine thing, no doubt).

Does this look tempting? There's very good reasons why sitting in the shade on a hot day will be just about as much as we can muster. Feeling hot can also result in dehydration. We all lose fluids and salts through sweating. A symptom of dehydration is tiredness. Then there's the actual effects of the sun. Rays can damage the skin and result in sunburn. Even wrinkles and changes in pigmentation. All these things result from chemical changes in the body.

It's not just age that causes wrinkles. Sun can bring them on too! So… what can you do? Here in the UK we are not really used to dealing with hot weather so it's hardly surprising that we find it difficult to know what's best. Here's some top tips for garden-lovers:

Plant a tree or large shrub. It will give you shade which could be a blessing in the summer. Sit under a shady tree. You will be delighted by its dappled light and cool comfort. Sip water regularly. A salty snack might be helpful. Get up and move around frequently. Shield your eyes from the sun. It helps to protect from the intense, ultraviolet (UV) rays which can penetrate the sensitive eye cells which could affect vision. The effects can build up and eventually cause cataracts.

Sunglasses aren't just a fashion accessory. They can protect your eyes from damage. Run your wrists, your neck or even your feet and ankles, under cold water. The blood vessels are close to the surface at the pulse points of a body. The back of your knees is another good cooling spot. A wet flannel on the back of the neck is a refreshing and reviving treat. And now to the plants. Will they be damaged by too much sun? The answer lies in sensible planting. Always put your plants in the right sort of position.

Drought tolerant or resistant planting can be beautiful. And easy to maintain too. Some plants such as those with silvery or waxy leaves are amply able to cope with full sun and some drought. Their leaf colour and often fine hairs on the surface of the foliage, cut down water loss. Their leaves are often tiny too. Think of lavender, Santolina, Perovskia, Sedum and olive.

Sedum have waxy leaves that are succulent. They are able to withstand a fair amount of drought once established. Plants that like shady, moist places include Hydrangea, Rodgersia, Astilbe and many different ferns. They will probably not survive long in a hot spot. Their foliage is green and lush and it therefore will lose moisture in the hot weather. It will look droopy in a drought! Astilbe and hosta are both varieties of plants that like damp, shady places. They can be both useful and beautiful. As always, right plant, right place will naturally make your garden as low maintenance as possible.  

Be water wise in the garden

Top tips for watering during hot spells:

This teapot watering can makes light work of watering the garden! But only tend to the plants that are essential.  

  • Dig a tiny hole with a trowel. You need only go down about 3cms. If the soil is moist, you don't need to water today.
  • Lift up your pots. They will be lightweight when the soil is dry. Pots need much more water than plants in the garden.
  • Make sure you water thoroughly when the time is right. Water the garden deeply but infrequently. Your plants will learn to search for water and will grow stronger.
  • Water in the early morning.  It reduces the chance of mildew.
  • Water the soil, not the plant. Avoid making foliage and flowers wet. They can scorch in the sun.
  • Make a trough or a dip in the soil.  It helps to keep the water where you want it.
  • Mulch. It conserves moisture.

You will definitely need to water pots and containers as their roots can't travel very far to look for moisture.    

By Perfect Plants


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