Water is a precious resource locally and globally. Rainfall in Cambridge has averaged only 557 mm annually over the last 30 years and Cambridge’s climate is classified as ‘semi-arid’. The Dry Garden has been designed as a beautiful, water-wise planting.
The plants grown within the Dry Garden flourish despite us never having provided any supplementary irrigation, even in times of drought. All the plants here have been selected for their ability to survive in low rainfall, while close plantings and the application of mulches help conserve soil moisture. Many of the plants grown here display adaptations which help them survive periods of heat and drought. Many, such as Potentilla fruticosa ‘Snowflake’ have small leaves which reduce water-loss, while some, including Santolina pinnata ‘Sulphurea’, have leaves which are covered in silvery hairs to both trap moisture and reflect heat
Others like Aeonium ‘Zwartkop’ have thick, fleshy leaves which act as a water storage system. The hedges Fagus sylvatica (beech) and Rhamnus alaternus ‘Argentovariegata’ have even been selected for their drought-tolerance. With its carefully chosen mixed plantings and hard landscaping, the Dry Garden serves not only as a demonstration of water-wise gardening, but also as a lesson in low-maintenance gardening.