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Hi I have been busy in my garden over the past few days, I have a side of the garden that has boggy soil and in partial shade many of my flowering plants do not grow there. Have you any ideas what will grow, I would really like some colour and flowering plants, Thank you
Erin A - have you tried astilbes? They love dappled shade and lots of water but you mat have to improve your drainage. And Iris siberica would love your conditions. Then there are the mimulus species, filipendula, globe flowers, brown celandines,oh,so many lovely flowers for boggy conditions. Just have a look at the bog garden in the nearest botanic garden or take a walk along a river bank near you. Busy lizzies would probably give you colour for this summer.
hi there kate... could you give me some advice please, i have managed to buy a piece of land at the side of my garden,for the past few weeks ive had loads of work done to it,ie a very large lovely pergola, slabs put down and now the final thing is planting,my question is im going to put some turf down and ontop the turf when it is layed can i put wildflower seed on it ..or is it to late for seed to flower this year,plus not sure if the turfs will take if i put on seed . happymarion...if you wish you could thinking your a good gardener as you seem to know a lots of plant things...and i bet your garden is lovely.x
Sarah's pondlife. if you are aiming for a wildflower meadow turf is not the answer. A mixture of grass seed and wild flower seed could be sown now but you would have to remove the rich topsoil. If you do want to turf you could buy wildflower plug plants from say "Wiggly Wigglers", grow them on a little and plant them randomly in the turf. You need to let them seed themselves before you cut the grass. I'm not sure if it is possible to get a successful wild meadow this way. The team at the Bristol Botanic Garden are making a meadow featuring the wildflowers found on the Bristol Downs but it will not be seen in all itsglory for a year or two. At the moment the top soil has been removed so it is not too rich an environment for wild flowers. In the autumn there will be a seed collecting expedition to the Downs to collect seed, including some beauties like the Bristol onion and spotted orchids and yellow rattle which will keep the rank grasses in check. There is one other way. You can buy turf ready sown with wild flowers but this is expensive and the fun but longer way would be the way the Botanic Garden is doing it. My garden is a real joy at the moment and only the wild flowers need no watering from me.
I spent far too much time watching a fledgling blackbird yesterday which was hiding in the potentilla instead of doing useful things! I did get my sweet peas planted out and some lily bulbs planted but have lost a big escallonia to the winter weather so this weekend coming have a fun job trying to remove it!


Sarah's pondlife - do what happymarion says! If you want a wildflower meadow you will need to remove the top layer of soil as it is too rich for wildflowers (unless there are already wildflowers growing there?). Grass can smother wildflowers so I wouldn't advise you to sow wildflower seed, especially in turf. If I were you I would first sow some wildflower seeds in plugs, so they become plug plants. (Do you get Gardeners' World Magazine? There is a project on making wildflower plugs in the April issue.) Or buy them from reputable suppliers, like Wiggly Wigglers as happymarion suggests, or Habitat Aid. While the plugs are growing on, remove the top layer of soil, exposing the subsoil beneath (which is usually lighter in colour), then plant the plugs and sow grass seed at the same time, to give the plugs a head start. Include yellow rattle in the wildflower mix as it suppresses grass growth, helping the wildflowers thrive. Annual wildflowers should flower this year if you're quick, while perennial ones will flower next year if you sow them now. Hope this helps! Kate
Lovely to read all your comments, I hope you all got your jobs done. My garden is finished (for now!). Happymarion – that sounds lovely. Your friend seems very sensible, unlike me, trying to create a perennial cottage garden in a tiny space, and then getting cross with the plants that aren’t in flower all of the time! Babs – the tadpoles should be gone by late-summer, but some do remain over winter. Do you really need to clean your pond out? It’s healthy to have a layer of sludge at the bottom for frogs and other creatures to overwinter in, a long as there are plenty of oxygenating plants in the water. Dead leaves and other debris should be removed as these can release noxious gasses when they decompose. Didi1975 – I once visited a house where the owners had grown some grass in a shallow wooden box, for their pet rabbit. Alternatively, you could remove the flag stones, sand and builders’ rubble and import topsoil and turf your yard, like I did. The grass might struggle in deep shade though… Plants good for shade include foxgloves, hellebores, honesty, cranesbill geraniums, Japanese anemones, hebe. Good luck! Gardeninglily – it certainly sounds like drastic action is needed! Established wisterias will survive anything, as happymarion says. Take a look at our fact sheet on pruning wisteria Sculinky – I have that problem too. I keep checking how many frogs are in the pond, and going indoors so the blackbird can forage for grubs. But it’s all pat of gardening, and makes it much more enjoyable!
hi kate and happymarion,many thanks to both of you for your advice,,,its not as easy as i thought doing a wildflower area,,,however i will still try,my main garden is a cottage garden and at the moment it looks glorious [if i do say so myself],its just doing the new side bit of land and i want to carry on the theme but hopefully in a week or so it should all be done... mind you today i decided to do another pond ...digging in this heat [not good]. but doing gardening is always worth while. oh and kate i didnt get any frogspawn this year....very disappointed.
tut tut kate and happymarion i forgot to say in my last blog,i went onto the wiggly wiggers web-site,and i spent a fortune on plants,seeds and bug boxes....[naughty naughty].
I have had a busy bank holiday weekend and managed to finish my dry stream bed, planted vegetables in the raised beds and prick out some of my wild flower seedlings, these are on top of the usual lawn mowing and weeding jobs. This bank holiday weekend has been set aside for the erection of a new fence so no rest for the wicked as they say!
Just been watching the wedding so no gardening today. Tomorrow I need to get out and pot up my trailing begonias which have just arrived - into hanging baskets. It says 5 to a 12 in basket? I will give it a go and hope for a good display as past years have been dismal!!!! My peas have come up but loads didnt so need to re-sow. Happy gardening everyone!
I need to tackle my front lawn, it has 2 large brown areas, and there are lots of small holes appearing in these areas, does anyone have any tips or advise on what these may be caused by. I have looked at Mony's tips on improving your lawn and will take these on board, as the soil here in the North East is heavy clay.


Sarah's pondlife... you mentioned the lack of frogspawn the other week.. or was that your daughter? Did you used to come on as Muddy Boots and now you both come on as Sarah's pondlife? Is strange that you didn't get any spawn. Do you normally get some? My teenage frogs started croaking in the pond last week and I thought they might finally start mating, but they stopped, and got on with catching flies. Kate
hi kate,,,,yes thats my daughter[muddy boots]...and yes my daughter is nuts about writing on your blogs.....we normally have loads of spawn but none this year...and we were all wondering why...i think maybe its because of very cold weather killing the frogs however we do still have some very small frogs and newts in pond and the other day i did see a kinda big frog but not as many as last year. isabel [my daughter] hasnt liked going in the garden for the past few months as our dear fox died at xmas....[and shes still upset about it],they were the same age...... so i think thats why she hasnt blogged...however she did get carried away writing stuff on line ..... im surprised she didnt tell you all about it....everyone in the neighbourhood heard about it and she still goes on about it now...............for heavens sake. for example mr fox died on xmas day and miss muddy boots says 'oh it ruined her christmas and every christmas from now on.....' CHARMING..dont worry about poor old mr fox....hes the one thats died...
Didi1975 - I have a north facing backyard - good plants in pots, low maintenance: Dicentra spectabilis (Bleeding Heart) - perennial which dies back each autumn and then magically starts again in spring with beautiful heart-shaped flowers. "Alba" will really shine out in a shady place. Also not too bad in light shade are Aquilegia (Granny's Bonnet) which look delicate but take quite a lot of cold wind and shade in pots. They are short lived but self seed if you leave the heads on the flowers. Hellebores (Lenten/Christmas Roses) also good in shade but their sap can irritate the skin. Some hydrangeas are good - if you have a shady trellis you can grow a climbing hydrangea in a pot and it will spread quite far (pot would need to be a couple of feet in diameter and depth). Japanese honeysuckle is also relatively bullet proof, good in pots and will cover unsightly things if grown around a trellis (e.g. surrounding an oil tank). Nice fragrant white-to-yellowing flowers in summer-autumn and can go a bit mad so best grown in a pot. Vinca/periwinkle, clematis montana, some camellias (grown in ericaceous compost), fuschias (although latter can be a bit delicate in north winds and could be lost over winter). All these are good for a shady spot in pots in a back yard/patio.
Had everything going well plug plants to pot up then disaster admitted to hosp for 2 weeks so half plants died and im way behind oh well least im on the mend
And i am willing to bet wanting to rescue your plug plants and look after your garden speeded up your recovery, pattiuk. Best wishes for better health and thanks for the reminder to make the most of what time we have and be grateful for the therapeutic qualities of growing things in both senses - things that grow and cultivation. While you are way behind enjoy the wild flowers in this glorious spring.