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Is it too late to improve drainage?

I've recently moved from Australia to Northern Ireland, and have managed to make some fantastic gardening mistakes forgetting the differences in climate. I managed to get my head around having to grow things under glass and "hardening" etc., but missed the boat on preparing the soil. My Oz garden was in a desert, so a sucessful garden needed heavy organic compost and mulch, and I never had to worry about drainage because the was practically no rain and you could regulate water by watering less. Foolishly I failed to realize that in Northern Ireland the only break from regular rain seems to be snow, and so I've followed my old habits and filled my beds with loam and peat heavy compost, and I believe there is solid clay underneath. A perfect example of pride and fall.

So my dilemma is this: I've already got bulbs and some violas in the garden, all just starting to sprout and thanks to the very cold Spring, but they seem to be surviving. Once it warms up I have dozens of annual plants that I intend to put into the same bed. I'm worried that my bedding plants are not going to do well in the moisture heavy soil. Is there anything I can do to improve drainage without digging everything up? Is there any hope at all that it might be alright despite my soil botch?

Many thanks for any advice or words of comfort.



  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 86,175

    I think they'll be fine - there will be dry spells, even in Ireland image

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 27,312

    Lots of plants will put up with that Amy. Have a look to see what's successful in neighbouring gardens. If you google 'plants for heavy soil' you'll get a list of what will cope with it. Good luck, you'll be OK.  

    In the sticks near Peterborough
  • Amy KellyAmy Kelly Posts: 23

    Dovefromabove and Nutcutlet, thank you for your replies and encouragement. You are right, the garden seems to be coming along well despite my mistakes. I've got loads of tulips in flower and the allium buds will soon be opening. The violas and pansys are not doing quite as well as those I have in pots, but they aren't dying either, so hopefully the other annuals will come on alright as well.

    This is my first year in this garden so I'm going to take it as it comes and learn from anything that doesn't work.

    Many thanks again for your encouragement and for taking the time to reply.

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