The Slope on Thursday – Tropic of Italy

It has been said that one of the effects of climate change would be that England would become Mediterranean and Italy more tropical; if July 2014 has any relevance we could say that we have had a taste of the future this month.

This week has seen a couple of days and night with torrential rain, thunder storms accompanied by cooler nights than are expected in July but days that are very pleasantly warm (mid to high 20’s °C)  I have been calling this my English summer but as Frances at Island Threads pointed out, few English summers are actually as warm as it has been and rarely is the rain torrential usually more gentle over a longer period.  So although many Italians are feeling very cheated by not having a summer this year a few secretly are enjoying the fact that it is cool enough to sleep at night and if you are working it is far more pleasant.  Even at the beach it is much more pleasant when there is a slight breeze rather than the intense heat that saps all one’s strength.

The usual view

The usual view

The cloudy sky makes the Perovskia look a very deep blue

The cloudy sky makes the Perovskia look a very deep blue

Drops of rain decorate the waving stems of the Gaura

Drops of rain decorate the waving stems of the Gaura

There was one plant of Queen Ann's Lace on the slope last year, I hoped they would seed around and this year there are 3 plants, I will have to be vigilant that my wish doesn't come true too much more!

There was one plant of Queen Ann’s Lace on the slope last year, I hoped they would seed around and this year there are 3 plants, I will have to be vigilant that my wish doesn’t come true too much more!

Solanum jasminoides Album  continues to produce its pretty white flowers month after month

Solanum jasminoides Album continues to produce its pretty white flowers month after month

Ground-cover Verbena has been flowering since April

Ground-cover Verbena has been flowering since April

As you can see the Stipa tenuissima has been cut back to reveal all the blue, silver and grey of this area of the slope

As you can see the Stipa tenuissima has been cut back to reveal all the blue, silver and grey of this area of the slope

I thought the Panicums had died after the very hot August and September last year but the year means they are taller than ever before (not by the height they grow in others gardens but how they have grown here

I thought the Panicums had died after the very hot August and September last year but the year means they are taller than ever before (not by the height they grow in others gardens but how they have grown here

I have decided to cut back all the Stipa to encourage fresh new foliage for the autumn

I have decided to cut back all the Stipa to encourage fresh new foliage for the autumn

It is always difficult to attribute one good/bad year to climate change as there is always and has always been quite large variations in the weather year on year.  But I do think the seasons are no longer as well defined as they once were.  Would I mind if every year was like this one?  No certainly not, a mild winter and spring with plenty of summer rain would be perfect but I don’t expect next year to be the same.  How would you feel about a long term change in the weather?  Have you noticed long term changes or just yearly variations?

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33 thoughts on “The Slope on Thursday – Tropic of Italy

  1. Your summer is mirroring mine Christina. This is a different summer than it has been in the last 10…what I have noticed is the storms we get are stronger and more damaging than they have been in the past 20 yrs and they have been growing in intensity.

    Loving the lushness of the slope especially all the silver green foliage.

  2. All is looking lovely on your slope Christina and a misty dappled sky does look English. We have had relentless high 20’s temperatures and I feel exhausted, working as a gardener there are only so many people who will tolerate me working at 5 in the morning or late at night. I keep a weather diary and can’t pinpoint a pattern, the weather generally has been erratic over the last few years. I agree seasons are not defined any more and quite often my senses are confused by the muddle of weather changes. Global warming is potentially catastrophic for many species of wildlife and plants and the knock on effect to humans. We can’t turn back the clocks, but hopefully we can slow down the changes.

  3. Your slope is still looking beautiful Christina, and obviously appreciating the rain you have had. At last we have had a couple of showers today and more forecast for tonight, hopefully the garden here will look a lot happier by morning.

  4. It seems to me that the changes are coming with extremes rather than long term and gradual: more weather disasters everywhere. Maybe Mom Nature is just trying to get our attention.

  5. I love your Queen Anne’s Lace, but do watch those seeds! ;-) I think that view of the slope is nicer without the Stipa right now. We have had lots of rain, but then very high humidity too, so even 25 degrees seems unbearable…

  6. Your garden is clearly enjoying the more tropical conditions. I’m beginning to fear that we’re shifting from a Mediterranean climate to a desert climate. Our rain was at a record low last year and the drought seems firmly entrenched. This summer our humidity levels are much higher than normal but, unfortunately, we haven’t received any of the monsoonal rains common to the areas to the east of us.

    • The normal almost desert conditions here in July and August are not pleasant especially as the cold (sometimes) winters mean I can’t grow desert plants. Tropical would mean humid, which I don’t like but at least many plants grow well.

  7. The prediction for the UK now is for more extreme weather. Summers that are warmer, but with more frequent storms. We certainly had our fair (?) share of that this last winter and lost some trees. It makes me a little nervous living in the middle of a wood!
    Your garden is certainly looking lush and not at all like the Italy I remember from holidays there. Long may it continue.

  8. Lovely photo of the rain on the gaura! Re the weather – it was only a few years ago that some in the UK thought they ought to start planning for a drier garden… but then we had a succession of wetter summers. In a temperate climate we can expect a lot of variation but over the much longer term things are definitely changing – I can certainly recall how much longer our winters were when I was younger, and how trees were leafless from Sept/Oct right into April/May which is certainly not the case now.

  9. Christina the slope is looking beautiful, the blue and silver sing out and do benefit from the cutting of the grass, have you any blue grasses? I don’t seem to remember seeing any,

    weather wise well up here is not getting warmer but like you wetter and cooler only this far north we do not need wetter and cooler, it makes me smile the way people refer to the UK weather as being what they experience in their corner, I can sometimes understand the Scotland leaving the UK when so many south of the border behave as if Scotland has never been part of the UK! sorry better not read your other commenters in future, Frances

    • I do have Festuca glauca but it grows too much and looses its form plus the local cats seem to find it the perfect toilet. I have another blue grass but that needs some water do isn’t suitable for the slope.

  10. That was so brave to cut back all your stipa, but, as you say, it does accentuate the lilac/silver colour scheme. As for the climate/weather, it is hard to draw a conclusion, but I’ve often felt, that, rather than the hotter, drier summers they were predicting, it has become warmer and wetter – more tropical – with shorter winters, and warmer springs. Our summer is now earlier in the year. And now this summer has proved that theory wrong!

  11. Your garden does look lovely, and that gaura is just beautiful – it is clearly enjoying the weather as much as you are!

    It’s been wonderful here in Wales, having a ‘proper’ summer, but I must admit that personally I’d have liked more of a winter. Just to kill the bugs off… storms, we had. Low temperatures – nah. At least we’ve now got some rain, though.

  12. It’s very hard to kill Panicums with drought. Those roots go really deep and the are acclimated to prairie fires. The weather certainly does seem different, though very inconsistent. For instance, we had several abnormally mild but snowy winters in a row and then a very long, cold, and snowy winter. Also, there is a definite zone creep going on. Some plants like Ceratostigma that were very marginally hardy here years ago are now growing much more robustly. (Although why that is happening this year after this past winter is a mystery.)

  13. I love the combination of the perovskia and the fennel Christina, and it was certainly worth cutting back the stupa, the blues, silvers and greys make a wonderful combination. It certainly feels as if the seasons are becoming more muddled, we’ve had mild periods in mid winter and then long cold spells until late spring. Like Kate I have really enjoyed having a proper summer, but the current cooler weather, and the rain, are rather welcome. I still don’t feel I have a handle on what is normal here weather wise, I hope we don’t have the storms again this winter, but some proper cold weather would be quite nice! I like cold and crisp. I’m expecting cool and wet! It will be interesting to see what happens with our respective climates over the coming years.

    • I think all gardeners actually like a good cold winter to kill the harmful bugs. It also helps the roses and some other plants to have a proper rest – I mean dormant period of course!

  14. I don’t miss the stipa at all. I’m surprised…. I don’t think I would have been brave enough to cut it all back, but this year especially I like the look of the green better!
    Glad to see the verbascum still carrying on, and yes I’ve seen spring creep in earlier and earlier, but it also seems the risk of late killing frosts has increased…. I hate to see all that damage done :/

    • The Stipa will regrow and it seeds so profusely that it doesn’t matter if some dies. It’s golden foliage just shouts dryness so it is good to cut it back and let me think it is spring again when it regrows green.

  15. Your “usual view” is outstanding! Also, your ground cover verbena is so beautiful. Its leaves look quiet soft. My verbena, which I would call a ground cover though I don’t know its name, has stiff leaves and purple blooms; it also has been blooming since April.

    • Yes, he leaves are quite soft. This was an amazing plant, I bought one in a 3 inch pot and it is now covering about 10 square yards around the garden, very good value.

  16. I’ve seen the first signs of autumn today. Leaves turning and hawthorn berries ripening. Definitely the seasons are much more blurred than I ever remember. For once we’ve had a proper summer and it has been lovely.

    • How lovely that you’ve had a good summer this year. Everyone everywhere seems to feel the same about the blurring of the seasons. I hope we have a reasonably cold winter it is much better for plants like the roses if they have a dormant phase.

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