I never do more than 15 hours work a week in the garden. Life is for living after all!

But this week I am achieving nothing more than keeping plants alive.

Nothing more, I say!

Guess its THE most important role we have as gardeners.

God knows when it last rained. And bits of the  garden are desperately dry.

The grass went brown a long time ago. But I don’t worry about that ever. That comes back. I have gently topped up ponds which have wildlife importance. For a while I have been supporting  plants moved in the last few years. I have now had to move to also supporting long term plantings which are showing signs of distress:

The front part of this mature drift of Japanese Anemones is in the rain shadow of an old  Chamaecyparis tree. The back of the drift will have benfitted from whichever was the last lot of rain we had, while the front didn’t. Inconsistencies like this are starting to emerge, given the heat and dryness we are all experiencing.

Like any one else I am both cost and eco conscious. So rather than use wasteful sprinlkers which deliver water thinly and indiscriminately, I am watering by hand directly from the end of the hose. I allow the water to play across my fingers onto the base of the plant so that the rooting zone is not unnecessarily disturbed. I am spot watering on a case by case basis. If it’s a fern I moved last year it gets some help, if its a wilting treasure of any age it gets some help, but if its a happy clump of Alchemilla  mollis it doesn’t! I am ensuring that any support I give is thorough and gets right deep down below the plant to foster deep rather than shallow rooting. I also sometimes backtrack over what I have watered to allow the first lot of water to carry the second down even further.

In these circumstances happiness is a new tap in a far flung corner of the garden and seventy sparkling new metres of Tricoflex ‘soft and flex technology’ hosepipe! Thanks, you guys at Avoncrop.

There is also the joy of saving your work of years and a confidence that you are approaching the situation in the right way.

This afternoon, as I watered away, a cheery greeting from my neighbour came over the party wall:

‘You’re wasting your time – they say its going to rain later!’

I laughed and said nothing.

Even supposing they are correct, how much and for how long would it have to rain to make good this dryness?

In any case this wiley ex head gardener remembers the old saying:

‘The best time to water is when it is going to rain’, meaning that the rain carries your watering right down to where it will do most good.