This might seem a strange image to post next to a blog about clay soil. Find out why…..
I took this photo of Sossusvlei in the starkly beautiful Namibian Naukluft dessert earlier this summer. ‘Deadvlei’, this particular location, means dead marsh. What was once a marsh and prone to seasonal flooding, is now a dried out clay pan (clay soil) surrounded by towering sand dunes and containing dead Acacia trees dating back possibly 900 years. The river that used to flood this region changed it’s course and the climate was so harsh that the trees, rather than decomposing became petrified. Understandably it is one of the the most photographed regions in sub Saharan Africa.
Wouldn’t it be great of we could say the same about our own waterlogged or dried out clay gardens !
Having visited Namibia with it’s dead trees and vast clay pans I feel inspired to write something positive about clay soil……
So, lets hear it for clay soil…….!
1.It is extremely rich in nutrients and very fertile
2.When mixed with organic matter it doesn’t dry out in the summer months….less watering
3. When it rains, clay holds on to the nutrients such as Potassium and Nitrogen, essential for plant growth. In sandy soils these are leached away and need replacing. So no need to add supplements each year or after heavy rain.
Lots of plants absolutely love clay soil. Here are a few….
When we look at some of the amazing plants that thrive on our clay soil, it’s hard to understand why not everybody wants to garden on clay !
But of course as we know it can have many issues for the gardener, and knowing how to tackle it is 90% of the battle. In my next blog I will look at some of the solutions available to winter waterlogging and summer drying out.
Below are a few clay soil loving plants;
Acer (Japanese maple), Amelanchier lamarkii, Betuala (birch), Crataegus (hawthorn), Euclayptus, Malus (crab apple), Pyrus Salicifolia Pendula (weeping silver pear)
Thuja plicata, Taxodium disticum, Picea (pine), Abies (fir)
Roses, Viburnum, Spirea, Hydrangea, Buddleja, Cottoneaster, Mahonia, Berberis
CLIMBERS AND WALL SHRUBS
Pyracantha, Rose, Hyrangea petiolaris, Lonicera japonica & periclymenum (honeysuckle), Kerria japonica, Garrya elliptica, Cottoneaster horizontalis
Bergenia, Euonymus fortunei,Geranium, Juniperus communis, Persicaria affinis & bistorta, Vinca
Anemone japonica & hybrida,Astrantia, Hosta, Sedum, Geranium, Astrantia, Asta novae-belgii, Alchemilla mollis