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Gardening Advice from Noah.

I fear the current wet weather may be my fault. Two weeks ago, I considered writing a piece on watering, and the heavens opened! I don’t know about where you live, but here in the North West we have had maybe 2 days without any rain since then. At first my positivity reigned (oh yes, I am trying to be funny), and I could be heard saying “Well, the plants and trees need this rain.” Now, I am less chirpy, muttering “We will be taking gardening advice from Noah soon.”

However, I am an optimist so I am going to push on with the watering advice in the hope that we might need it soon.

· I am going to start with a contentious issue – grass. While a lush green lawn is often the centre of our garden, it will survive without being watered. It will go brown and not look great, but at the first sign of rain it will bounce back to life.

· Always try to water either first thing in the morning, before the sun is warm, or late in the evening once the heat of the day has passed. (I am working on the assumption that we will experience warmth again).

· It is not essential, or even helpful, to water your whole garden. If you have freshly planted shrubs or perennials in your borders these may well need an intermittent water but try not to water them daily beyond the first couple of weeks after planting. This encourages them to put down deeper roots as they seek water.

· Mulching with bark chippings or well rotted manure around your plants helps to keep the soil moist.

· Pots – pop saucers under those that you can, group them together to reduce water loss and where possible group them as near to your hose or water butt as is practical.

· If you are planting up pots, use the largest that you can. The smaller the pot, the quicker it will dry out.

· If you are using a hose pipe to water, place a few cans around the garden near to those pots or plants that dry out more frequently, filling them as you water. That means that you can water ‘hotspots’ without having to drag out the hose when the rest of the garden does not need watering.

If you only have a few small things to water (seedlings etc) why not use a recycled bottle with a nifty little rose lid - available from most garden centres or online shops.


Water butts are a great way to reduce the amount of water we are taking out of our reservoirs and for those of you on a meter, very cost efficient. It does mean however that you rely on heavy cans rather than a light hosepipe. Consider investing in a small truck that you can load your cans into and pull around the garden – just don’t fill them too much or you may end up spilling more on the path than the flowers. (I have something similar that I use when out and about delivering workshops. My husband suggested it, and being a little stubborn, I resisted, insisting I can carry things myself. Don't tell him, but it was the best thing I ever bought. I have become known as 'The Lady with the Trolley' in many a care home!')

The other way to approach reducing the need to water is to choose plants that can stand

drier conditions. Here are a few ideas, check out your local garden centre for their suggestions too –

· Eryngium (Sea Holly)

· Cistus

· Osteospermum

· Lavender

· Sedum

Alpines are also an exciting range of plants that are often drought tolerant, their natural habitat being rock crevices. They are like the mountain goats of the plant world.

Doing the watering can sometimes seem a bit of a bind, especially at the end of a warm day. Personally, I like to water first thing in the morning (I have even been known to do it in my pyjamas!) and I love that opportunity to walk slowly around my garden taking in all that is going on in it. Things can change daily; those buds I saw yesterday are fully opened up blooms today. My little dog will follow me around as I do this task, so I will chat to him about what I am noticing.

This is a perfect chance to do something together with your loved one who has dementia. Look at things together, talk about the colours, touch the different textures and breathe in the various fragrances. There is something very evocative about scent, it can prompt memories more than any of our other senses. Remember that memories are not always a picture or a clear recollection of an event, they may simply be a feeling. That can bring significant comfort to someone who is confused about their world.

It is also an opportunity for someone with dementia to help with something that needs doing. It can be easy to approach chores with the attitude of “It will be quicker if I do it myself”. While this may be true, it would be more fulfilling for your loved one to be involved, helping them to feel of value and able to contribute to the daily running of their home. This in turn can help to relieve their frustration and boredom, reducing some behaviours that are colloquially described as ‘challenging’. Often this is just an indication of an unmet need such as mental stimulation or the need to feel useful.

So, reduce your need for watering to help save the planet and your energy; and include your loved one in the watering you have to do to improve your time together. And would it be the worst thing in the world if a water fight started…….?

(As I go to post this I realise that not only has it not rained today, but it is actually sunny……Noah can stand down.)


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