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Tuesday, 19 November, 2002, 09:26 GMT
Climate threat to English gardens
Flower garden
Landscaped gardens may have to be re-designed
Global warming could see the demise of some of the best-loved features of English country gardens, conservationists have warned.

Historic and public gardens and parks could be seriously under threat, with horticulturalists forced to re-design them to suit changing conditions.

Domestic gardeners could find it increasingly difficult to maintain a healthy lawn within the next 50-80 years.


We are already seeing the effects of extreme and unexpected weather on our wildlife, historic buildings, rivers and lakes, coast and gardens

Fiona Reynolds, National Trust
The findings come in the first major report to look at the impact of climate change on UK gardens and the horticulture industry.

Researchers say global warming could lead to a range of sub-tropical plants and tropical fruits becoming a common sight in the UK for the first time.

For the heritage sector, the greatest challenge will be the long-term care of historic layouts, plant collections and planting effects, originally developed in climatic conditions that will no longer exist.

The report shows current climate trends are leading to reduced frosts, earlier springs, higher than average temperatures all year round, increased winter rainfall and hotter, drier summers which could increase the risk of droughts.

Water management

Dr Andrew Colquhoun, director-general of the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), said: "Gardeners are adept at coping with the weather and the likely climate change over the next 80 years will present exciting opportunities as well as challenges.

"While there will be greater opportunities to grow exotic fruits and sub-tropical plants, increased winter rainfall will present difficulties for Mediterranean species which dislike water-logging.

"Careful irrigation techniques as well as wise water management will be essential for all gardeners including those at the RHS."

The report, Gardening In The Global Greenhouse: The Impacts Of Climate Change On Gardens In The UK, was commissioned by the National Trust and the RHS.

Prince Charles with the Queen
Prince Charles is a keen gardener
It was produced in partnership with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Anglian Water, English Heritage, the Forestry Commission, Notcutts Nurseries, The Royal Botanic Gardens Kew and the UK Climate Impacts Programme.

National Trust director-general Fiona Reynolds said: "The trust knows that climate change will affect all our properties.

"We are already seeing the effects of extreme and unexpected weather on our wildlife, historic buildings, rivers and lakes, coast and gardens.

"We are working with others to evaluate these impacts and respond in the most positive way.

"We have to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases that cause climate change and at the same time find new ways of living and working that can adapt to an evolving and more unpredictable climate.

"Our work on gardens gives us all a signpost to these changes - this is an invaluable call for action."

See also:

24 Oct 02 | England
14 Oct 02 | Business
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