It’s an inevitable part of being a gardener in the UK. Somedays it will rain. Water is essential for life, and without it everything would quickly wither and die. I would prefer it to rain during the two thirds of the day I’m not at work, but unfortunately the weathers schedule cannot be chosen. We must therefore find ways to continue working, despite the best attempts of Mother Nature to thwart us.
There is a popular saying in Scandinavia which my Norwegian brother-in-law is very fond of; “there is no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing”. It is very true that with the correct apparel, most weather conditions will become much easier to cope with.
Staying dry is fundamental to this. Once wet, it can become impossible to get warm and dry again without a change of clothes. A good set of waterproofs is always a worthwhile investment. Modern fabrics are waterproof and breathable, so I hopefully don’t end up dripping with sweat, and just as wet inside the waterproofs as outside. It’s also a good idea to get a tough set. The garden is full of thorns and branches just waiting for the opportunity to snag your jacket, and a coat with holes offers very little protection.
Good footwear is also an essential. A warm, comfortable and waterproof pair of steel toe-capped boots will always work wonders for morale. Damp socks means cold feet and a grumpy gardener, and a grumpy gardener won’t make a good garden.
One of my most essential pieces of kit for dealing with bad weather is my shed. It is a refuge where I can temporarily retreat from the rain for a quick break and a cup of tea. It could be in the glass house, the car or even under a big tree, but as long as it provides shelter, so I can spend a few minutes out of the worst of the weather, warming up and drying out a bit, and I will soon be ready to go back out again.
Occasionally it is too wet to be in the garden. Wet soil is prone to compaction and sometimes it is best to let it stop raining before undertaking any work. On days like this it is time to take on inside jobs. In the glasshouse there is almost always work that can be done, sowing seeds, taking cuttings or repotting plants. I often take wet days as a rare opportunity to tidy and reorganise my shed. A few hours spent finding a sensible home for items will save me hours locating them when I finally do need them. A bit of time spent sharpening and maintaining the tools will pay dividends when I next need them and they are razor sharp and ready to go. Cleaning and stacking pots doesn’t feel important now, but when I need them next, I will be glad I did. Sometimes a wet day is the impetus I need to sit down and deal with paper work. It may be the only time I get during an otherwise action-packed week to deal with plant orders, accounts and planning future work. These are easy to overlook while the weather is good, and I can be out on the ground to doing the work I love, but can quickly become critical when deadlines start to loom.
Once in a while there is nothing left to do but to just look out at the garden, watch the rain drenching everything and relish the fact that at least I won’t need to do any watering this week.