Every garden - and gardener - is controlled by the weather. Here in Umbria we know to expect hot dry summers and cold (but not always) damp winters.
Temperatures rise to 40 degrees in summer with often no rain for two or three months. In winter the thermometer drops to minus 6 degrees or on occasions much lower. So we have to be able to cope with nearly 50 degrees variation during the year, which can be rather daunting for gardeners. Without the winter freeze we could just plant cactus and bougainvillea and be done with it.
These cold winters mean that we are not in a typical ‘mediterranean’ climate zone, more like a ‘continental’ climate. This is because our land is at a relatively high altitude, even though it doesn’t always feel that it is - but the surface of Lake Trasimeno is 250 m above sea level, and my garden is at around 400m.
Rainfall varies greatly from year to year and across the Region. A neighbour records an average rainfall of around 750 mm per year whilst a friend who lives near to Orvieto sees 880 mm on average. In most winters some of that precipitation arrives in the form of snow.
Here are some thoughts on the weather and how changes in climate might be affecting us in Umbria.
The photo at the top of this page shows the garden in December 2017 after an extreme air frost coated all the plants and trees with ice. Not only did it look very beautiful but the concentrated frost helped eliminate the olive fly that had started to become a problem in our area.
Many of these articles first appeared in the Castiglione del Lago monthly newsletter “Qua e là” edited by Priscilla Worsley
All text and photographs © Yvonne Barton unless stated otherwise