Thursday, 4 April 2013

Effects Of The Cold Weather-On You And The Garden

We got a call yesterday from one of our grounds maintenance contracts. In short, the query was: "Why do the shrubs/bushes look so bare- is there something wrong?- there's no leaves!"

The Long Winter!

Our unhappy truck snowed in!

It appears that this long winter (nearly 6 months!) is affecting everyone. According to the Met Office this is the coldest March since 1962. High street retailers have commented on low sales and offices are being affected by absences due to sickness. Bad weather is a depressant!

Aye (my husband) commented to me the other day that he thought that England love snow! Yes, I said... but not when it goes on into Spring! He also finds it amusing that this country love to chat about the weather all the time- well I say chat.. more like moan at the moment! In Burma, the weather is so nice.. you don't keep talking about it!

This cold weather is a topic that we all chat about everywhere... at the supermarket, in a queue, on twitter - I am guilty of this. But surely now, enough is enough - we have had this cold weather for far too long! We even have our heating on in April!

The sun is good for you- fact!

Enjoying some sun

When we went to Burma and Thailand in January and February it was amazing what a bit of heat and sun can do to make you feel happy. Apparently, sunlight helps you produce endorphins  which make you happy!

Impact on industry and businesses

When you look at the farming industry it makes what we are experiencing as a gardening business feel so trivial. It was devastating to see on the news the amounts of livestock claimed by the freezing and snowy conditions. Farmers are also saying this is the worst weather that they can remember for lambing season, not to mention the crops that have been destroyed. I really feel for the farming industry.

Garden centres are also commenting on low sales as customers just do not want to spend time planting in their garden- in some areas because it's not practical because of snow, but also the bitter wind is making us all hibernate inside!

However not every business has been affected by the cold -dominoes Pizza recorded a rise in sales as consumers ordered online rather than venture out into the cold to do food shopping!

What is the cold weather doing to your garden and what should you do about it?

So, going back to the original phone call that I mentioned. This wasn't the first person to comment on how the trees and bushes are just not getting their leaves like normal.
The cold weather that has carried on into April has effectively extended the tree's hibernation time and slowed down growth. But don't panic... the Met Office predicts that temperatures will rise towards the middle of April. Be patient, don't despair and look at your garden and think you need to start again. The sun will return and the Spring growth will come. 
If you didn't put any protection in place for your plants and you are feeling a little concerned- there are a few things you could do now to minimise damage.

1. Place a layer of thick mulch around your evergreen plants to keep the soil free from frost. If the ground is frozen, roots are unable to take in water, so this layer of mulch will allow them to take in moisture.
2. In the South the snow falling is not currently settling, but if it is in your area make sure you shake any snow off from branches, shrubs and hedges to prevent them from being affected by the heavy weight of the snow.
3. If it is very wet in your garden avoid walking on the soil as this will compact it and reduce drainage. Equally as important is not walking on the grass when it is frozen or covered in snow as this will damage the blades of grass.

Frost Damage
It may be that you have already noticed some frost damage in your garden- plants will appear limp and 'blackened' We would recommend not being too hasty in this instance - give the plant a chance before you take drastic action. When there is no more frost expected, you can prune out the damaged areas. But give the plant a chance to recover.. even into Summer- then you can make the decision whether to take it out or not.

So... don't despair... the warmer weather will come. Give the garden a chance to return to it's full glory, with a bit of sun the garden will thrive once more!

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