But then we were inundated with floods and gales – so what are we to think?
Well, bearing in mind some rotten summers from my childhood, it’s business as usual and first item on the agenda is damage limitation.
With today’s all-year-round container gardening, potted fruit, evergreens and hardy palms can be blown around the garden something chronic. You can pick them up, but they are just blown over again, which bashes the plants and risks breaking the containers.
If you can’t stand them under cover, support them. Tie tall plants to walls or trellises and push shorter plants close together in a corner of the patio so they keep each other upright. If you arrange them they can still look decorative.
The best containers for a windy winter are squat, heavy and planted with tough hollies, potted topiary and troughs of winter-flowering heathers. Make sure you lift them up on bricks or “pot feet” so excess rain can run away quickly.
Hanging baskets are always risky winter decorations. On blowy nights when the wind spins them round, rusting chains can snap under the strain and drop their load.
In bad weather, winter hanging baskets are better lifted down and placed on top of a big pot half-filled with stones for ballast or hung in a large, enclosed porch or light car port.
A wet and windy winter also means slippery paths.
Dead leaves, dirt and damp create ideal conditions for moss and algae, which make hard surfaces dangerous. Take advantage of any break in the weather to get out, sweep up, wash down and hose off.
If water collects on paths you use regularly, dig a gully round the edges to help it drain faster. This can also help with soggy flowerbeds and raised beds.
But the biggest problem is the lawn. In a mild, wet winter the grass keeps growing but you can’t cut it. All you can do is keep an eye on the weather and get out with the mower at any opportunity.
If you do cut the grass, you might consider sprinkling a light dressing of gritty sand over it and working it in with a stiff broom. This firms up the surface and improves drainage and aeration, which keeps grass roots healthier.
If bad weather means you can’t mow the lawn, you are better keeping off it until conditions improve.
Wait until the ground is firm underfoot and the grass is dry, then reduce the height by about half. If the grass has grown too long to cut with your usual mower, hire a rotary scythe or motor mower.
If you have a small lawn, you can do the same thing with a strimmer or a pair of shears.
Trim it as regularly as you can, reducing the cutting height gradually.
Once conditions are back to something like normal in spring, you could help things along by spiking the grass with a garden fork, sticking the prongs in every four inches to about half their depth. Then follow up with a dose of lawn feed towards the end of April.
The weather has always been unpredictable and experts have warned that global warming will bring greater extremes.
So all you can do is be vigilant, be flexible and above all, be prepared.
Published at Sun, 05 Nov 2017 00:01:00 +0000