Climate Change garden for Isle of Wight

Interesting climate change news from the RHS web-site today:

24 September 2009

Climate change gardenA new garden has been created by volunteers at the Ventnor Botanic Garden on the Isle of Wight and planted with half-hardy exotics to test the limits of what it’s possible to grow as as the effects of climate change become more marked.

The Westgate Garden has been carved out of a previously neglected area in a north-west corner of the gardens as part of a project funded by the Community Spaces programme, part of the Big Lottery’s Changing Spaces initiative and managed by environmental charity Groundwork UK. Officially opened by the Prince of Wales, the garden now provides a link between the Botanic Garden and the neighbouring village of St Lawrence.

The area already features mature specimens of borderline-hardy Washingtonia robusta and W. filifera, which benefit from the benign microclimate on the island. But, inspired by a recent incident when a collection of cacti and succulents left outside over winter survived, Simon and his staff decided to ‘push the envelope a bit further’.

‘I’ve been here nearly 24 years and a lot of the things we’re planting in the garden now wouldn’t have survived the first winter when I joined,’ says curator Simon Goodenough. ‘Now things like Isoplexis are surviving from year to year untouched.’

The new garden freatures several species of high altitude cacti from Chile and Argentina such as the barrel cactus (Echinocactus grusonii), as well as bromeliads and hedychiums, all of which will be left outside all year round. More experimental plantings include Chinese cycads such as Cycas panzhihuaensis and the yucca-like Furcraea longaeva.

“We’ll probably still run the risk of losing them,” admits Simon, who saw temperatures plummet to a sustained -4°C during the last unusually hard winter. “But I’m not concerned for horticulture in Britain because of climate change – I just think it makes it more exciting.”

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- who has written 872 posts on My Climate Change Garden.

I am not an experienced gardener - more of an enthusiastic amateur who learns by trial and error and who is keen to "manage" the effects of shifting weather patterns on my garden. Writing this blog is my passion and it has evolved over 12 years to inspire engagement with climate change outside our back doors, in our personal gardens and green spaces. My mission is to fertilise and expand this platform to grow a community of global gardeners communicating about the effects of climate change on our plants and exploring how each individual can make small changes in our lives to become more sustainable. The future of our gardens and #OurPlanet is in our hands - please plant your own seeds for our collective sustainable future.

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