Gardening in the North by Trevor Rogers

Trevor is a fruit growing consultant, a horticultural speaker, and a volunteer gardener at Gunby Hall so, his presentation was based on the knowledge he has gleaned over the years whilst living in Swaledale in North Yorkshire and now on the Gunby Hall estate.

It was whilst he was living in Swaledale that Trevor learned to fully appreciate the need to adapt his gardening methods to the northern climate. Although we would not normally refer to Market Rasen as being ‘in the North’, according to Trevor, our weather pattern is very similar to that which is traditionally known as ‘the North’. He then proceeded to inform us of the need to be more aware of a variety of conditions including temperature, hours of sunshine, rainfall and wind speed, all of which can severely affect how well our garden plants grow.

So, in order to be successful at growing plants in our area, we must be very mindful of our less than perfect climate and therefore make key adaptations. Trevor then proceeded to remind us of the minimum temperature plants require in order to successfully synthesise and why. As our ‘northern’ climate has less hours of sunshine than ‘the South’ so we have a shorter growing season. Apparently, it is accepted that Spring in ‘the South’ officially begins on March 1st whereas in ‘the North’, this is delayed until March 21st. This longer growing season enables the southern counties to have a 20% premium on growing period conditions compared to ours and, they also have less recorded wind and rainfall.

The effect that wind can have on our plants is greatly underestimated by most people as it can cause major dehydration; this is particularly applicable to fruit trees and bushes. When this is linked to the likelihood of there being stronger winds in ‘the North’, it is easy to understand how detrimental this weather condition can be on the growth of our plants in our particular area. As a consequence of this, Trevor suggested we make minor adaptations such as covering plants or placing them in a greenhouse (especially relevant for perennials) for additional protection from the elements.

In addition to these hints on how to improve our growing conditions, Trevor was keen to emphasise that we should not pick a plant ‘ just because we like it’ but seriously consider the plant’s suitability for our garden. The position of a plant in the garden should be a big consideration as should the need to water and feed it. He was keen to emphasise the fact that different plants require different nutrients so an ‘all purpose’ feed is not necessarily best for every plant. He used the example of gooseberries requiring potash and recommended that we do some research on which plants are more suited to our area before making a purchase. Trevor also suggested that we choose varieties not just because we recognise their name, and gave the example ofCox’s Orange Pippin as a fruit tree everyone has heard of yet, it will really only flourish successfully in the southern counties. He also said not to dismiss the lesser known and more modern varieties as these have been purposely bred to be more resistant to certain pests for example.

All in all, Trevor’s advice was logical yet thought provoking and certainly made me want to endeavour to develop smarter solutions and adaptations in my garden.

About Nadia Dawson

Retired primary headteacher now working at Lincoln University
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