Joe's 5-plant borders: clay soil
Get the best from clay soil by creating a border with Joe Swift’s five-star plants
Over the years I’ve worked in many gardens with clay-based soil – London is full of them! It’s often seen as problematic – sticky, wet and cold in winter and rock-hard in summer, all of which are difficult to grow plants in. And yes, it may take plenty of graft to get it into decent shape initially ( by digging it over, and adding lots of organic matter and drainage material), but it can also be the basis of a very useful, nutrient-rich soil. The good news is there’s a huge range of plants that will thrive in clay soil, including roses, shrubs such as hydrangeas, viburnums and dogwoods, and hard-working perennials like Japanese anemones, brunnera and pulmonarias – but I have only five to play with in my border. As with all my five-plant borders in this series, I have chosen plants that will thrive in their conditions and look good together – this scheme is versatile enough to work in many gardens. You may already have a nice climber on a wall but want some ideas of what to plant in front of it, or maybe you have an established rose to plant around. These plants are not expensive or hard to get hold of, so you could plant them now and be enjoying them by summer.
Alchemilla mollis will thrive in clay soil and often produces a second flush of flowers