In Your Garden
Question: What plants can I plant in a wet or boggy area of the garden? Answer: The first thing to do before you decide on any plants for a wet area of your garden is to make certain any wet areas are not caused by something more sinister (for example broken underground pipes, which is best investigated by a licensed plumber). Of course, any naturally wet areas in your garden can be alleviated by improving the drainage to the area, or by improving the structure of the soil. However, there are a number of plants that will tolerate wet and poorly drained soils that you can plant including the following Australian natives. Many bottlebrushes will tolerate damp and wet areas and one of my favourites is Callistemon citrinus, more commonly known as pink champagne. This shrub will grow to about three metres high and two metres wide and profusely produce soft pink bottlebrush shaped flowers in spring to autumn. The flowers will also attract many honey-eater birds to your garden, along with many pollinators, which is an added bonus. Another popular plant that will tolerate boggy areas of your garden, and is also commonly used as a hedging plant, is the lily pilly. One that I like because of its spectacular pendulous flowers is Syzgium wilsonii. It is a rather large shrub to three metres, and just like pink champagne is a great bird attractant to your garden. It prefers to be well mulched and likes a semi shaded spot; it will be well established in three to five years. If you have a very shady area and prefer a ground cover plant that can be a great substitute for areas where you just can’t grow turf, then you cannot go past the native violet or Viola hederacea. It produces beautiful little mauve flowers. This plant is so easy to look after, and as a matter of fact prefers if you neglect it - so is a great plant for the lazy gardener! It will only grow up to a height of 0.1 of a metre and will easily cover approximately one square metre. If you are looking for a strappy leafed plant, then something like the Crinum pedunculatum or swamp lily is ideal. It is such a versatile plant that can withstand shade to areas of full sun. It has a strong clumping habit and grows to a height of 0.5-1 of a metre, with lovely delicate white flowers towering over its lime green strappy leaves. Breaking a leaf in half produces a thick, sticky substance that can be used as a great remedy to stings and bites. This plant also creates a lovely haven for many native frogs, who love to seek shelter in the plant’s broad leaves. The last plant I would recommend and suitable to wet and boggy areas of your garden is the aptly named swamp banksia or Banksia robur. The swamp banksia is a long-lived shrub that is often grown for its attractive new growth and flowers. It is such a hardy shrub and will grow to a height up to two metres high. This shrub’s architectural, upright habit certainly creates a focal point in a garden, and I have seen this plant often lit at night with its silhouette projected against a fence that accents a garden and creates an interest. Many more Australian natives will also grow quite happily in a wet, poorly drained area of your garden. But there are just as many exotic plants that will do the same job. So if you don’t like natives, go out this weekend and see your local nurseryman and get some advice on what other plants they have for the difficult to grow areas of your garden. ■ Disclaimer: The comments provided in this article are general in nature only and are not a substitute for professional advice. The author accepts no responsibility for any action taken by a reader in relation to this article.