Monday, 19 March 2007


Is it just me that thinks it’s been a bit wet over the last couple of weeks? I have this wonderful self-watering system set up to water my plants but I haven’t really had the chance to use it yet. In a way this is a good thing, as the plants grow better with rainwater as opposed to tap water. The conditions are actually very favourable for growing at the moment as we are still getting the sunshine even if we aren’t tempted out into the garden because it is either wet or windy. If you are the member of the family who darts outside in between the showers to cut the grass you will probably know what I am talking about. The weather we are having at the moment has been making my little brain tick over, how do I make the best of the situation? As Billy Connelly said “there is no such thing as bad weather it’s just that you’re wearing the wrong clothes!”


Planting up a simple display of plants that can tolerate their roots being saturated in water would be an ideal solution for people who forget to put drainage holes in their containers when they fill them up. We are a bit limited on the choice of water plants that are available around here, but with a little imagination we can find plants that can tolerate these wet conditions. I have loads of yellow irises and reeds in my back garden, but I think that is taking things to extremes! There are a few plants that are classed as marginal plants that will do the job nicely, such as some Hostas, primulas and cultivated Iris’s. Creeping jenny could also be used which is popular in hanging baskets. There are probably many more plants which will suit, so now would be a good time to pick the brains of the garden centre staff.

One of the simplest ways to create a water container is to use a window box. Bog plants (or marginal plants as they are also called) can be used to good effect. The plants you choose can be placed straight into soil in the container or put into soil wrapped up in an old piece of fine material such as a pair of old tights, this makes it an easy job to take out any plants that have gone past their best. The container can then be filled with gravel and of course water, remember though that the container will be very heavy so it will need to be secure on the windowsill. Most bog plants prefer to be placed in full sun so you can put the container on the next flight to the south of France for it to flourish!

An idea that I particularly like is to use half a barrel and sink all but a few inches (cm) into the ground, this looks particularly effective in areas around an alpine bed or a seating area. The barrel would probably need some pond liner inside it to stop it from rotting. When it is in place it can last for years, just one water lily can give a great show all summer and fish could also live in it all year as it would be deep enough and insulated in the ground enough to keep the water from totally freezing.

It might be a good idea to have a poke around in the dusty corners of the house or garage to find anything that would hold a marginal plant, an old metal watering can can be used to good effect, you might have to fill it half full of gravel first as it will be a bit deep for most shallow loving plants. When the old sink is thrown out, put it in the garden, put the plug in and away you go, an instant water garden!

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