April Showers

'Though April showers may come your way, they bring the flowers that bloom in May …..' Well that's the theory anyway, but as our weather patterns respond to changing climatic conditions and flooding or draught becomes an all too regular occurrance for some parts of the country, seasonal certainties seem to be a thing of the past, lessons from history rather than geography. The 'rain cycle' is another one towns and cities have started to rethink. Once it was simple, rain fell onto the earth to be soaked up by forests or slowly infiltrate its way through the ground into streams and rivers to the sea to be returned by evaporation to the clouds, to fall once again as rain and snow. Now so much land is built over with impermeable roads, driveways, and the roofs of so many buildings and channelled from there directly into storm drains, that in heavy rain a deluge rushes directly into and overwhelming our rivers. As flood plains throughout the county were built on pushing the problem further down stream, more of us have felt the devastating effects. If all this sounds depressingly familiar don't despair, there's no need to wait for officialdom to catch on, it is possible for us to use our homes and gardens to alleviate part of the problem ourselves. The roof is a good place to start, a flat or gently sloping one may be perfect for a green roof, planted with Sedums or similar draught tolerant species in a suitable substrate it will absorb some of the rain falling onto it and allow the rest to leave more slowly. By adding a diverter to the downpipe or an ornamental 'rain chain', excess water can be stored in a butt or underground reservoir for use when the draught arrives, or my favourite, piped directly into a pond and from there to a garden soak away, ditch or swale. Gravel, a permeable and relatively inexpensive surfacing also allows the water to drain away more naturally and of course any type of planting in the garden will take up some of the rain falling onto it. Best of all I think are trees, the earth's natural covering. Stabilizing banks and preventing water run off, giving us shade and shelter, providing homes for wildlife and in April giving us some of the most spectacular flowers of the year.