You will often hear people remark that meteorologists cannot tell us what the weather is going to be like in forty minutes so how can they predict what it's going to be like in forty years. Well actually meteorologists study current weather patterns, it is climatologists who study the world's climate.

Climate change has always been with us. Two thousand years ago the Romans were cultivating grape vines in this country and today you can do the same thing in your own garden. There is little doubt that the rate at which our climate is changing has increased and will continue to do so - this will not only change the way we garden but will also dictate the sort of plants that we will be able to grow. Already plants which were considered too tender for our climate a couple of decades ago can be left out all year with only minimal protection.

For us gardeners the main impact is going to be rainfall. We can expect periods of drought interspersed with torrential rain - as the population continues to grow the use of hose pipes and the domestic water supply to irrigate our gardens will become a thing of the past.

Rainwater harvesting is going to be more important than ever and this doesn't necessarily mean water butts. Water storage tanks can be sunk below ground level or set below decking. Changes in the planning laws mean that driveways or hard standings with an area of more than five square meters and constructed from impermeable materials need planning consent. In most cases these will require some means of storm water attenuation - a means whereby water is collected and allowed to soak slowly back into the ground - usually a soak away or modern plastic cellular construction. When clients are considering such work (even a new patio) we suggest that surface water is collected for later use and any overspill be allowed to soak slowly away.

More gardens will have raised beds - apart from being easier to work, raised beds allow storm water to drain away and prevent plants standing in waterlogged ground. Mulching, preferably with organic materials will prevent water loss due to evaporation - it will also protect roots from ground frosts during winter.

Climate change doesn't mean that we will all have to plant cacti and drought tolerant plants. British native plants have been around a long time and will stick around a lot longer. Never the less we can choose plants which are drought tolerant, grouping them together in beds which will receive little or no artificial irrigation.