Water butts and water buts – or garden plumbing

I had a very, very wet two hours the other day trying to sort out the rain maintenance in our garden. This area of the UK is very dry (really). It is as unpredictable as any other part, but average rainfall is low, the soil is sand on chalk and the garden is always thirsty. Add to this the fact that we are foolish enough to grow rhododendrons and similar plants that prefer rich acid soil and consequently have to live in ever larger tubs as the years pass.

Rhododendron Yakushimanum Cupcake

Rhododendron Yakushimanum Cupcake

So, over these years, we have acquired many water butts and with the building of the greenhouse we had to start playing musical chairs with these. The big old pale green one behind the new greenhouse had to be swapped for one of the small ones from the back of the garden. But as the rain fell I discovered that this was now too high, so I removed the stand, dug up and added another concrete slab, an old tile and (temporarily) a blue enamel bowl.


This butt fills another bigger butt round the corner, that has a run off into the gravel.DSCN5621

The original pale green butt has gone to join several other behind our shed. As the rain poured down I discovered that the my linking arrangements hadn’t worked. So I had a merry twenty minutes up to my elbows in water ‘re-wiring’ the whole system to ensure a safe run-off into the garden. I think we now qualify for the Heath-Robinson prize.DSCN5618You’d think that would be enough water for us, but this is all in addition to the underground water harvester that we put in five years ago.DSCN1385

In the middle of winter.DSCN1401

As I stripped off all my soaking and muddy clothes, it was difficult to believe that we still sometimes run out of rainwater. (And there are a couple more small water butts at the end of the garden).

5 thoughts on “Water butts and water buts – or garden plumbing

  1. We used to live in a village with no mains water. Just a bore hole. Running dry was no joke. I remember 1976. I think we could have used a few water butts then. Your ingenuity is amazing. Your harvester would almost fill our HK garden!

  2. Pingback: Pumps, beans, peppers… and a temple? | Green Writing Room

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