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We have a retaining wall in our back garden made from railway sleepers.  The water from the top part seeps down under the wall.  I have cut out several little beds at the bottom of the wall, but as we have horrendous clay soil with awful drainage, everything I plant eventually dies off, the roots having drowned and rotted off.  Any suggestions as to what I could plant there - ideally something evergreen, growing to about three or four feet tall!  A tall order methinks!


I would start by trying to improve the drainage in the soil before planting.

our garden v heavy clay but luckily lots seems to thrive, i;'m just learning,also only been in house 4 months, have been going through lots of horticultural grit when i created new beds where was paved,clematis supposed to like cool (damp?) roots

To improve heavy clay soil it is recomended that grit is added-


I find heavy clay responds best to loads of well rotted Farm yard manure, compost or other humus  such as cheap growbags.The fibre stops the clay sticking together into a large lump.About a 50/50 mix if possible.



To improve drainage I would add grit and sharp sand,

Have you tried ferns?  Some are evergreen.  Such a wide range of leaf colour, shape and size.  The variegated  periwinkle will do well there.....lovely blue flowers too.

Hydrangeas too?  

There are lots of plants...not evergreen...that will grow there to add to the mix


How high is the wall Poly-anthus and also - do you have planting on the top part? Something there would help soak up some of the excess too. Another alternative is to get some extra drainage in the top area - dig out some vertical 'pipes' and fill with gravel to create mini soakaways which will divert a bit of it farther into the back of that part. All the above suggestions too- cover all bases! Clematis need good drainage though.

Thanks everyone for your replies.  The wall is about three feet high and has gravel at the top.  The gravel area does have a wide border at the back, against the fence and lots of things are growing there quite happily.  I have been digging lots of compost into the borders, but the area under the gravel is, I know, compacted heavy clay with lots of large stones in it.  Digging that lot up is not an option - not as young as I used to be!! . Thanks Verdun for the hydrangea suggestion - didn't realise it would grow in very wet soil, and the fern suggestion is definitely an option.  Thanks again everyone.


Hydrangeas would do well as long as theres some drainage.  With those stones it sounds like there is.  Aconitums would do well there..tall, leafy and lots,of blue flowers.  And arum lily.  I used to grow this in a pool.  

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