TALK April 12th 2022

Darren Lerigo, Owner of Modern Mint

‘Diluted:How to cope with excessive heat and lack of rain’

The first time our Speaker gave this talk was in Shropshire when the county was being deluged continuously with heavy downpours of rain. He had to make an early exit after his audience found it all very amusing!

Fortunately he didn’t have to make an early exit last night. On the contrary members had lots of questions for him following his intersting and entertaining talk.

Given climate changes we are experiencing, the next stage in garden evolution, the majority of garden designers will be developing and encouraging ‘Rain Gardens’ to combat expected future drier conditions. Principal idea is to CAPTURE/STORE/REDISTRIBUTE rainwater.

Darren gave us many examples how this can be achieved. Create a sunken border (Bio Retention Pot in modern day jargon!) to retain water for longer. Plants that enjoy bog like conditions include Persicaria (good for containing ground elder) Eupatorium (provide lots of nectar for bees), Aster, Verbena bonarriensis are also recommended.

  • Full list of suitable plants at the foot.

Permeable paving for patios will again help to retain water. Mulching with bark of compost is a must. Compost containing wool holds water and contains nitrogen Gardens need to slow down and store water. A green roof on a shed or an outbuilding is another good solution. Mixing copper in rainwater makes it cleaner. Grey water can help but leave it for a minimum of 3 days to dilute out soaps and shampoo.

On a show of hands members only used rainwater on their gardens as opposed to tap water which was the first time in Darren’s experience he had this result!

Sink terracotta pots into the ground to let water seep out over time. When plants are established they need little watering. Always water early in the mornings not in the evenings.

In Essex all new build housing developments must agree to incorporate ponds and swales (flat bottomed canals a sort of gutter) to retain rainwater.

When carrots are established they need little water as it will discourage carrot fly. Tomatoes when established should be watered infrequently as over watering will dilute the taste. If you want really hot chillies only water when the plant is stressed!

If you are fortunate to have a stream running through your property get a beaver who will quickly build barriers to slow down the flow of water!

Here are some relevant links members may like to investigate:

Dalefoot Compost made of wool:

Charles Dowding and his No_Dig vegetable patch:


Nigel Dunnet of Olympic Park fame:

  • More plants for Rain Gardens










Hellebore Camassia


Helenium Inula (and other plants from the daisy family)

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