English Gardens Endangered By Warming?

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Species propagated from bulbs, such as hyacinths, daffodils, snowdrops, bluebells and irises, often require cold winter temperatures to stimulate root development. British gardeners in the warmest areas may have to remove some bulbs and refrigerate them to ensure normal development, said the study.

Other important economic plants such as cherries and blackberries require a winter chill to stimulate growth of flower buds—a situation of concern for the U.K.'s fruit industry as well as home horticulturists.

Consistent Drizzle

The U.K climate is well-known for its moderate temperatures and the "remarkably even" nature of rainfall throughout the year, said Richard Bisgrove, a horticulturist and garden historian at the University of Reading and one of the report's authors.

"The picture of the U.K. as a damp, cloudy, and cool—but not cold—place has been a fair one," he said. However, as summers heat up and winters get wetter, maintaining the flawless lawns Britain is famous for will become increasingly difficult, he said.

Still, the changes might offer British gardeners some interesting new possibilities.

"Gardeners are adept at coping with the weather, and the likely climate change over the next 80 years will present exciting opportunities as well as challenges," said Simon Thornton-Wood, head of science at the Royal Horticultural Society in London. Gardeners may be able to add exotic fruits and sub-tropical plants like citrus and cannas to their repertoire, he said.

Bananas, dates, olives, pomegranates, palms, yucca plants, and other plants not usually associated with the typical English garden may also become increasingly common in the English gardens of the 21st century.

"I already grow my own figs, have grown peaches, and grow grapes and kiwi-fruits in a cold glasshouse, and I look forwarding to growing these outdoors," said Bisgrove.

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