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I have kust started a small garden and have heavy clay what plants would be suitable for this sort of soil? I have mainly only ever grown in the South of England and the pacific Northwest of America and so not used to this sort of soil, very heavy and sticky when wet and hard as iron when dry. So any ideas would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
The tough answer is that you will have your pick of plants ( except the ericaceous) if you improve your soil. When I started I could not get a fork in the ground in the summer and dug really tiny holes to plant in and lost numerous plants.
ooh just thought - ladies mantle does well - but must admit when we moved in the previous people had improved the soil in parts of the garden. We do have areas of rock hard shade under trees where nothing will grow apart from weeds...
ok here are the other plants that we've grown in our slightly improved clay -many many cranesbill, euphorbia, elephant ears, dicentra, ferns in the shade, roses, magnolias, iceplant, aqualegia, quince. Where the ground is hard and sunny - lavender, gravel with house leeks. Also clematis and honeysuckle in sun. Bulbs have to go in pots - they just rot. Built raised beds on top of the clay for fruit and veg. Used wood chippings every year on beds and its made lovely soil on top of the clay, which we mix in a bit. We really struggle for late summer flowers though.....
one more - woodruff - pretty little groundcover plant thats done really well.
Ems2 is correct with the plants, one way of working is to dig as deep a hole as possible drop some drainage in it then fill with compost, then plant up, over time the garden will be blooming although in wet weather water will lay.A field near me which was a market garden for nearly one hundred years before the builders moved in only had one foot of good soil on top of brick clay yet they grew good vegetables on that field. Raised beds would help if that is possible.
roses are great in clay. I'm on similar soil in S.E. England, irises do surprisingly well - keep their rhizomes above the soil and they get baked - which is good.