|Scampston Hall, North Yorkshire, still looking good in early October|
|A historic greenhouse range awaits restoration.|
One unfortunate result of a run of a twenty year run of mild winters, and much ill-informed press speculation about climate change, is that the British just got silly with what they were planting. A generation of younger gardeners grew up not knowing what a ‘proper’ winter was. And... I can’t help feeling, cynically perhaps, that there was a certain amount of wishful thinking that global warming was somehow going to make our climate more like that of the Med, that land where the British middle-class like to holiday, the land of olive trees, vineyard-draped pergolas and tomatoes picked effortlessly from the garden. ‘Preparing for climate change in the garden’ for some people meant living out their fantasies about the good life in Provence without having to move from Islington.
|Sesleria autumnalis is a grass of infertile moorland type habits, its a useful height and spead.|
The last three cold winters and our lousy summer should make them think again. OK, it is less sexy than the Mediterranean look, but the Steppe look might actually be a better look to cultivate. Forget Provence, Tuscany and San Tropez, think Anatolia, Kazakhstan and Colorado. Sorry lotus-eaters.
Steppe climates have cold winters and hot summers and tend to be dry. Anything from a steppe climate will survive drought, extreme heat and extreme cold. My experience of them is actually pretty limited, but I suspect we are all in the same boat. We already have plenty of steppe plants in cultivation: a lot of grasses, bearded irises, perovskia, European-origin Salvias. There is scope for more plant-hunting of course.
|Molinia caerulea 'Poul Petersen' in waves - one of the best and most original pieces of contemporary formal planting I know.|