Rain plus heatwave sees desert plants bloom in UK for first time ever

Lisa Walden
Photo credit: RHS

From Country Living

Thanks to May's late spring rain and June's early summer heatwave, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has seen a surge in desert plants blooming across their four glorious gardens.

Over at the RHS Garden Hyde Hall, a Dasylirion wheeleri has produced a three-metre-tall flower spike for the first time ever. The agave-like plant is a common sight in Mexico (where it is also used to make an alcoholic drink similar to tequila), but is rarely seen flowering here in the UK.

"Even though the Dry Garden is never watered and all the plants have evolved to grow in arid conditions, it still needs a top-up of rain every so often for the plants to really thrive," Robert Brett, RHS Garden Hyde Hall Curator, says. "We're thrilled by the flowering of the Dasylirion as it's not often seen in the UK, so we hope people will come and see it as an example of what it's possible to grow in some of the most extreme weather conditions we see in this country."

Photo credit: RHS

Meanwhile, over at RHS Garden Wisley, gardeners have spotted a 30-year-old royal agave (Agave victoriae-reginae) flowering for the first time, thanks to the soaring sunshine. As well as this, the Furcraea parmentieri, Agave parrasana, and hydrangeas have had their best flowering season in years.

Wisley's Curator, Matthew Pottage, adds: "Hydrangeas are always reliable performers, but recent dry springs have brought the stress of drought in the early part of the growing season – the rain we've had this year was very welcome and the developing buds already look magnificent. We're expecting them to be a sight to behold come July."

But that's not all: at the RHS Garden Rosemoor, two celebrated rose gardens have been thriving in the current heatwave, with hundreds of varieties in full bloom. Plus, visitors heading to the RHS Garden Harlow Carr can enjoy a temporary display of colourful bedding plants, salvia and rudbeckia this summer.

Photo credit: Neil Hepworth/RHS

Heading to an RHS Garden soon? Harlow Carr's Curator, Paul Cook, says: "We're still operating a pre-booking system to ensure that the garden doesn't become overcrowded, but if the good weather continues throughout the summer we expect slots to be booked up very quickly. We hope that as many people as possible will be able to enjoy a safe visit for some much-needed fresh air and sunshine after the 'lost' spring."

Make sure you don't miss out on the beautiful unusual sights at the RHS Gardens. See here for more information about tickets and visiting times.


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