A garden full of a colorful and wide array of flowers, shrubs and trees is every gardener’s dream. However, their soil has a different plan in mind. The soil that the gardener is forced to work with is clay. Hard, dense and does not allow for proper drainage. The gardener can generously amend their soil over a period of time with organic matter, such as compost. Over time the soil will bulk up to ease compaction for ease of planting; however, hard clay soil has a higher nutrient amount than normal soil. Therefore, plants that require well draining soil will not work in a hard clay garden. The people at Botany.com (www.botany.com) suggest rugged prairie plants as they have the constitution to hold up in clay soil. They also suggest the ten following plants that will do will in clay soil and give the garden color that every gardener looks for:
1. Aconitum also known as Monkshood. This plant belongs to the buttercup family. It will grow three to four feet in height with dark green leaves and during mid to late summer will bloom with violet blue flowers.
2. Hollyhocks. Can grow anywhere from six to ten feet in height with large rough leaves. During Summer through early Fall it produces spikes of flowers either in double or single rows ranging in color from white to red as well as yellow, purple and crimson.
3. Aster. A member of the daisy family, growing in different shapes and colors. The plant comes into full bloom in August and September.
4. Coreopies Verticillata also known as Tickseed. Another member of the Daisy family. This bushy plant only grows one to two feet height and produces flowers that a golden yellow up to two inches across. It should be noted that during the blooming months, the plant will produce more flowers if the plant is “dead headed” (remove the spend blooms) and will bloom longer.
5. Digitalis also known as Foxglove. These funnel shaped flowers come in a variety of colors from golden brown to white. The spiked flower bloom in mid-summer, unfortunately they are short lived.
6. Echinops also known as Globe Thistles. This plant grows in clumps with spiny leaves that range from gray-green to green covered in light white fuzz. When the plant blooms it has compact heads of tiny pale blue/grayish to white flowers.
7. Helenium also known as Sneezeweeds. They appear naught more than daisies as this plant is yet another member of the daisy family. The plant ranges in growth from two to five feet and produces golden yellow to dark red orange blossoms.
8. Kniphofia also known as the Torch Lily. Grows in tufts that range from two to five fees with narrow arching leaves. The leaf colors range from blue-green to a medium green. During late summer the plant blooms with flowers that range from bright yellow with a scarlet base to white with a pink base.
9. Lysimachia also known as Worrywort. This plant has lance shaped leaves. When the plant it young the leaves are a yellow green and as the plant matures the leaves darken to a full medium green. The blooms of this plant are star shaped and white which is a bright contrast to the green leaves.
10. Monarda also known as Bee Balm. This plant has thin leaves and a spicy fragrance. When it blooms it produces whorls of flowers up to two inches across ranging in color from white to pink to purple. No matter which flower color is blooming, the plant will have the slight scent of lemons.
There are ten plants that will help the gardener who has clay soil bring color into their garden. It is still a good thing to continue to incorporate organic matter into the soil that more plants (ones that require well draining soil) can be incorporated into the garden.