What can I do to influence my garden's micro-climate?
Every garden is unique. This is ultimately because each gardener will find different climatic areas within his or her garden, often with significant differences between sections. Take a look around and check which areas of your garden are in the blazing sun and which are in cool shade, where the warmest or coolest areas are, where the wind blows most strongly, and where there are protected areas. Each micro-climate offers an opportunity for individual design and creativity - through the best possible use of the location in question and by counteracting disadvantages by means of clever plant selection and care.
Simple design features such as hills, summer houses, hedges and trees can protect against the wind if positioned correctly and can cast shadows which create a slight change in temperature. Climbing plants on facades provide a buffer for temperature differences and are suitable for use as wind protection and screens. Even putting in a pond changes the micro-climate of a garden, since the temperature in the vicinity of water is at least two degrees lower than in a garden without a pond.
How do I make the best possible use of a micro-climate?
Trees and shrubs decorate and lend character to any garden. Under-tree planting is sometimes a real challenge. To prevent beautiful shrubs and ground cover from leading a shadowy existence, take a moment to consider the special conditions of dry and damp shade'. If dense foliage keeps off the rain, varieties which grow low to the ground like a carpet, such as ivy, waldsteinia or daphnes, thrive superbly well. Combinations of shrubs such as foxgloves and hostas with shield-ferns and ornamental grasses are extremely attractive in 'damp shade'.
What about sunny spots which are protected from the wind, next to south-facing walls, for example? First, make sure that the soil stores more moisture, so that plants such as lavender, mulleins and eryngiums, which prefer dry positions, can thrive in abundance. If, however, there is a fresh breeze in the area you are looking at, wind-tolerant plants such as common yarrow, hornbeam or knapweed will do very well.