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Wet and dry area

WilderbeastWilderbeast East YorkshirePosts: 1,410
We bought a section of extra land to add to our garden which gives us 3/4 acre space and has allowed my wife to design her dream formal garden, it's based around Newby halls huge formal beds.

It's all doing great however it has an Achilles heel, a large section which is very dry during (it's barely possible into get a spade in) spring/summer, it's bordered by a 10/12ft hedge of mixed varieties of tree/bushes. In winter this area becomes extremely wet and sometimes standing water up to a foot deep.

After 2 winters some plants are doing ok others aren't which is hardly surprising. Has anyone some ideas for plants that can manage with these different extremes 


  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 49,147
    Do you have a drain or similar which leads into the area and causes a problem? You often find little soakaway ditches running along field boundaries, so perhaps you have something like that?
    If not, you'll just have to improve the area as much as possible - rotted manure and grit will help improve the general structure of the soil, and help with drainage through the wet times.
    It's quite hard to find plants which suit both extremes. Are you looking for shrubs or perennials? A few photos of what's already there etc would help, if you can manage.

    Big, sturdy evergreens [like Laurels] will help soak up excess water over winter, but you'd need to improve the planting area first to get them established. Creating a raised bank would help, using some good soil/compost etc, piled up a bit, so that water can drain away more easily. Planting would then be along the top.
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • josusa47josusa47 Posts: 3,531
    edited November 2019
    We have the same problem in the park where I volunteer.  Clay soil in a saucer-shaped area of land.  There is a perimeter hedge and a few feet inside that an assortment of coniferous and deciduous trees.  So all these are on the higher ground and not too badly affected by the winter floods.  The flower borders are at the corners, again, not too soggy.  The tarmac paths converge at the centre, where there is a large circular raised bed, high enough to be out of the water.  The rest of the park is grassed, and much of it is currently under water.  Several years ago (before my time)  the volunteer gardeners decided to go with the flow and designated the wettest part as a bog garden.  We planted a few small willows, large grasses and non-invasive bamboos, and flag irises.  More recently, we've planted kingcups and ragged robin.  Self-seeded michaelmas daisies have spread throughout the patch and give a glorious show every autumn.  We have tried gunnera, without success.  It likes to be wet all year round, and doesn't tolerate being alternately submerged and baked!  If you look at my thread "Queens Park, Craig-y-Don" you can see some pictures of the park, but mostly taken in nice weather so you don't get much idea of the flooding.
  • josusa47josusa47 Posts: 3,531
    Rik56 said:
    Does the hedge create a large area of deep shade?
    Not really, not relative to the area of the park.  It's about 4ft 6 high.  One of the corner flower boarders is a bit shaded, with the hedge on two sides and some big trees close by.

  • WilderbeastWilderbeast East YorkshirePosts: 1,410
    Thanks for all the replies, and advice

    The plants that are thriving are cardoons (Mediterranean plant which should hate all that water) stipa gigantia,  bugle (it just keeps on creeping), an unknown geranium (a freebie from a customer) which flowers forever, hot lips salvia, verbena boriensis, Karl foerster grass.

    Plants to fail are eryugium big blue, black and blue salvia, echinops, restios, fatsia, various aquilegia. 

    We are total beginner's to gardening on any scale and 2 years in this is being our only bug bear. We have 3 beds of 3.5m X 9 m on each side of the garden filled with a huge range of perennials, the bed in question gets full sun from about mid morning. All the other beds have done brilliantly with masses of flowers and foliage this year. 

    There's no where to drain water to and I'm working hard on improving the soil. Clearly it's a tough cookie being as it has such dramatic swings in ground conditions. 

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