The Right Place At The Right Time

August 1, 2012

What type of soil do you have in your garden? wwwgardendesignercouk-18.jpg

In some parts of the UK you’ll have clay soil which fortunately is highly fertile, however, the down side is that clay soil sticks together making drainage very slow and in hot weather clay soil dries out and compacts. The solution to this is to add grit or to dig in coarse organic matter.

Luckily enough, there is a large selection of shrubs that will quite happily grow in clay soil. For a sunny position you can go for Berberis darwinii which has cluster of orange flowers in spring followed by black berries. Also many brooms, or the Cytisus will tolerate clay soil. For some heavenly scent go for the Philadelphus, common name of Mock Orange. Other clay-loving shrubs include Escallonia, Spiraea, Potentilla and Weigela to name just a few.

There are some good hardy shrubs that will tolerate both clay soil and partial shade like the Aucuba japonica, the Spotted Laurel with lovely glossy green leaves with bright yellow blotches. For some early spring flowering colour the Chaenomeles, Ornemental Quince is a lovely shrub and Choisya ternata, is an evergreen shrub with aromatic foliage and white flowers. These are just a few shrubs that will grow in clay soil and you’re sure to find many more.

We all have parts in our gardens that get less sun than the rest, however the combination of the type of shade, together with the type of soil is also very important. Do you have full or partial shade with dry or moist soil? Once you know, it’s quite easy to narrow down the choice of plants that will do well in a particular area.

A stunning plant with bold foliage for a moist partial to full shade site is the Hosta, but be aware that slugs and snails love this plant too. Most Ferns like moist shade, but there are just a few that you can get for dry shade.

Dry shade is regarded as a difficult site to grow plants in, as it may be under a dense leafy tree canopy or in the rain shadow of a brick wall or building. This kind of soil could be improved by covering it with organic mulch and watering the area. Luckily, there are plants that will quite happily tolerate this type of condition. As I wrote last week, it’s a good idea to see what plants grow where in nature in order to give us some idea of where to plant them in our gardens. So, plants that are going to thrive in dry shade are varieties that grow in woodland areas. Some plants which do like dry shade areas include Lily of the Valley, latin name of Convallaria majalis, Dicentra the Bleeding Heart, Iris foetidissima and the hardy Geranium known to some as Cranesbill.

I hope that I’ve helped you learn a little more about plants and why they prefer certain areas of the garden. So, the next time you go shopping for new additions to your garden, remember that each plant has it’s own preferred home. It’s up to you to give it the right environment, one that will keep it healthy and happy.


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