Thriving damp!
Amateur Gardening|May 29, 2021
Not every garden can enjoy full sun and some get less light and suffer from damp, but don’t despair! Camilla Phelps reveals the plants that are happy in damp conditions
Camilla Phelps

IN these climate-changing times, we’re having to cope with extremes of wetter winters, heavier rainfall and storms, as well as warmer, drier temperatures. Mediterranean plants definitely don’t appreciate their roots sitting in soggy soil, so if your garden tends towards the damp and maybe boggy, too, it’s wise to choose plants that will be happy in these conditions.

Damp growing spaces can come in a few different varieties. There are out and-out boggy, riverside or pondside areas that might also be prone to flooding during wetter weather. Or you might have heavy clay soil that gets sticky and boggy in wet winters but can dry out in the summer. Perhaps you have a tricky spot that tends to stay damp and shady, where the soil holds onto moisture and remains cool, similar to the edge of a woodland.

As always, nature provides the solution to all these problems in plants that are perfectly adapted to these conditions. There are shrubs and perennials that span a wide range of interest to give you seasonal colour, texture and structure right through the year and many of them are magnets for pollinators, too.

From the first appearance of primulas and marsh marigolds in spring and irises in early summer, the damp garden is full of colour. You can carry this right through into autumn with successional planting.

There are so many damp-friendly perennials to choose from, right across the colour spectrum. Astilbes come in hundreds of shades from white through pink to deep red, while persicarias will bring more ruby and white tones, rudbeckias and ligularias will add some sunny golden zing with their daisy-like flowers.

Adding foliage plants

Foliage plants also come into their own in damp areas, with giant Gunnera manicata making the biggest statement of all. But if you don’t have room for this monster, the diminutive G. magellanica makes great ground cover. Japanese petasites, which is also edible, puts on a wonderful, lush foliage display, but needs room to spread. For smaller spaces, hostas and ferns will transform shady areas into cool green havens.

Some of the best shrubs to combine with perennials in moisture-retentive soil in a layered planting scheme are salixes and cornus. These look great both in waterside locations, and in mixed borders, where the coloured stems are great for winter effects and the summer foliage makes a good companion for the more brilliant flowering perennials.

6 plants to grow in very damp soil

Astilbe ‘Fanal’ (x arendsii) AGM

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM AMATEUR GARDENINGView All

Versatile hardy geraniums

Camilla Phelps explains why no garden should be without hardy geraniums and offers her selection of the best of this underrated genus that's tough and easy to grow

6 mins read
Amateur Gardening
May 28, 2022

Let's get with the beet!

'Moulin Rouge' beetroot is a versatile variety, says Ruth

1 min read
Amateur Gardening
May 28, 2022

Running to catch up

You've still got time to sow runner and climbing French beans, says Bob. Follow these tips to runaway success

2 mins read
Amateur Gardening
May 28, 2022

This week...Hostas

With their lush foliage hostas are ideal ground-cover plants, particularly for shady areas

5 mins read
Amateur Gardening
May 28, 2022

Just desserts

Look after your rhubarb and you'll be rewarded with lots of luscious stalks for plenty of summer puds, says Toby

2 mins read
Amateur Gardening
April 30, 2022

Care of wild and tamed lawns

Ruth looks at our swards at the end of No Mow May

2 mins read
Amateur Gardening
May 28, 2022

Focus on... Sweetcorn

If you get the spacings and the timings right, you too can be enjoying delicious sweetcorn harvests. Lucy Chamberlain explains how to find your sweet spot

6 mins read
Amateur Gardening
May 28, 2022

How to get months of colour

Ruth's top tips for prolonging that sense of summer

2 mins read
Amateur Gardening
May 28, 2022

Heaps of Colour

Hydrangeas offer great structure, huge blooms and late-season colour in semi-shade. Hazel Sillver explains how to grow them and looks at 16 of the best types

6 mins read
Amateur Gardening
May 28, 2022

Feeding time

Val looks at plants that provide food for caterpillars

3 mins read
Amateur Gardening
May 28, 2022
RELATED STORIES

Gentle scenes

Soft pastel is a special medium for me. It gives me freedom, control and the possibility to express myself on paper in a variety of ways. I use different types of paper for different effects.

3 mins read
International Artist
December 2021 - January 2022

NEW YACHTS

RUPERT HOLMES REPORTS ON INNOVATIVE CRUISERS AND THE LATEST FOILERS

7 mins read
Yachting World
November 2021

Creating Emphasis

Working from dark to light colors, Pamela Hamilton’s pastel paintings feature the smallest and brightest marks at the focal point

6 mins read
International Artist
August - September 2021

IRSAN GREGOIRE

HYPER REALISTIC ART A deep level of communication

2 mins read
Art Market
Issue #54 December 2020

Using T-Track

T-track is a versatile product that has many great uses around the shop.

3 mins read
Popular Woodworking
February 2021

Big Time Dinosaur

In general, sauropods rarely appear in dinosaur model collections due to their size and scale but not due to a lack of interest. In 1/20 or 1/15 scale, the average sauropod measures between 45 and 60 inches and is priced like a mid-range laptop.

2 mins read
Prehistoric Times
Summer 2020 #134

Take your pick

Gorgeous flowers to grow that will not only look lovely in the garden but are also perfect to fill your vases indoors

2 mins read
WOMAN'S WEEKLY
April 19, 2022

Late-summer STARS

Keep your borders and pots blazing brightly with these long-flowering plants

2 mins read
WOMAN'S WEEKLY
April 19, 2022

Gnudi

Simple to prepare, these spinach and ricotta dumplings make a quick and delicious alternative to gnocchi.

2 mins read
Gourmet Traveller
April 2022

THE FOOLPROOF GUIDE TO Bathroom renovation

Consider these 10 helpful tips before making any big changes to your bathroom

4 mins read
Your Home and Garden
April 2022