Friday, 1 July 2016

Climate Change Impact on Gardeners

Guest blog by Kate Mawer – WI Climate Ambassador, Braunston WI, Northamptonshire Federation

As an amateur gardener I enjoy the uncertainty that working with the seasons brings. Gardeners are adaptable people, it is no surprise when a late frost catches us out and an apple crop is poor or when a mild winter brings more devastation from slugs to our hostas. The changes we experience year on year can be part of the fun and is what maintains our passion for gardening. This year my herbaceous perennials are looking wonderful, filling every gap in my garden, and the new planting in the village community garden has established quickly because of the spring and summer rain.

It is the greater occurrence of more extreme weather events that is the concern of the gardener. I am fortunate that my garden is not in a flood risk area and so I have not had to replace a garden that has been devastated by floods. As chairperson of the Braunston Village Gardens Association gardeners are telling me about how they have had to replant their produce gardens this year as they have lost a high proportion of their first plantings due to the wet and increase in pests. This is costly, time consuming and demoralising.

As gardeners we are custodians of biodiversity. Extreme weather events create uncertainty. Gardeners may be put off by the challenges of new diseases and unfamiliar pests that are difficult to control. It is a concern that for some the solution is to replace plants with hard landscaping or artificial turf reducing the opportunities for wildlife to thrive and ironically further adding to the issue of flooding.

Climate change is complex. Planting Mediterranean gardens and investing in a water butt system, at one time popular suggestions for gardeners coping with climate change, is not a solution when the dry summer has been replaced by one of the wettest on record.  

I, like other gardeners, appreciate the physical and emotional health benefits of this hobby. We will continue to garden and even thrive on achieving successes despite the unusual seasons. We are significant players in terms of food production, wildlife conservation and flood control and understand that working with others now to limit carbon emissions will make a significant difference and benefit the gardeners of the future.

 Join the October Week of Action!

Join us from 8th-16th October in a Week of Action to celebrate the people, places and things we want to protect from climate change, and make sure MPs feel that love. People all over the UK will be lobbying their MPs in their local area, and we'd love you to be involved.

We'll be seeing nature walks, tea parties, classic lobbies, community energy visits and all sorts of other events to show MPs why you would like them to take action to protect your community from the impacts of climate change. All this will involve MPs so that politicians see, feel and hear how much their constituents care about what we could lose to climate change.

More details, including an action pack and a range of resources to support you, are available on the NFWI website at

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