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Expert advice for gardening in a droughtThe lack of rain, and now the hosepipe ban, makes it a challenge to keep gardens lookinggood.In the Abbey Gardens in Bury St Edmunds – which draws one and a half million visitors ayear – only the central flower beds will be watered this year if the area needs it.The gardens are Bury’s biggest attraction and many of the town’s shops and businessesbenefit from the tourist trade.To use as little water as possible, the gardeners will use a bowser to carefully target howthey give plants a drink.The rest of the gardens and grassy areas will rely on any rainfall to keep them green.The bowser will also be used to water the hanging baskets around the town. All the basketswill have reservoirs to stop the water dripping through and water-retaining gel will be mixedinto the compost so it stays damp longer.Abbey Gardens’ Head Gardener Steve Burgess shares his tricks of the trade for gardening ina drought.- Only water if plants really need it.- Check the weather forecast – rain may be on the way.- Water early morning or in the evening to stop evaporation.- Water near the roots without the rose (sprinkler head) on the watering can – don’t spraywater over bare earth.- Use a water spike pushed in the ground to water shrubs. The dry earth on top will keep soilunderneath damp.- Collect as much water as possible – through a water butt or by recycling water from thehouse. It’s fine to use bath water on the garden.- Before planting, add water-retaining gel to flower beds or pots and baskets.- Mulch shrubs with bark chippings or mature garden compost. Mulch pots with stonechippings.- Leave the lawn a bit longer than normal to keep it green.- Grow plants which need less water, such as those with grey, silver, downy or waxy leaves.These conserve water better.Plants which cope better with less waterFor hanging baskets: Bidens, Brachyscome, Convolvulus Sabatius, Diascia, Felicia,Nemesia, Pelargoniums, Tropaeolum (nastursium) and Verbena.For containers and borders: Calendula (pot marigold), Cosmos, Diascia, Eschscholsia(Californian Poppy), Gazania, Lantana, Nemesia, Nicotiana, Nigella, Osteospermum, Papaver(poppy), Plectranthus, Pelargonium and Verbena.