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.

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