Plants that Thrive in Clay-Heavy Soil

GardenWise on Clay-Heavy Survivors

Some areas are lucky to have clay-heavy soil, something I think about often as I work often in the clay heavy soil of Northern Virginia.   I use the word lucky because I have the opportunity to share some of the most beautiful clay heavy soil survivors, with blooms that will take your breath away.  Below are some suggestions for those with clay-heavy soil, beginning with the irresistable Blue Cornflower.

Blue Cornflower (Centaurea cyanus) These brilliant flowers are what memories are made of — rare among “blue” flowers as they are actually blue.  They are delicately fragrant and drought tolerant.  This flower has a lot of history — it’s the national flower of Estonia,  was used in Pharaoh Tutankhamunand’s funeral wreath, and was President Kennedy’s favorite flower, worn by John Kennedy Jr. at his wedding to honor his father. 

Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) These plants (herbs, actually) do very well in clay-heavy soil, are drought tolerant,  and come in a variety of colors — the  purple blooms will stop you in your tracks.  They will break up soil as they grow, and are a favorite among those who practice herbal health as they have been known to boost the immune system. 

Daylily ( Hemerocallis) A must grow for anyone with clay-heavy soil, they do well in a wide range of soil conditions, come in a variety of wonderful colors, and are rugged.  They also establish quickly, grow vigorously, and survive winters with little care.  

Liriope (Liriope muscari) With spikes of tiny violet-blue flowers, this grass-like plant is named after the nymph Liropie, mother of Narcissus.  The plant is a member of the lily family, has dark green, ribbonlike foliage that recurves toward the ground, and does very well in soil with clay.   

Coreopsis Verticillata or Tickseed is a plant that is very tolerant of clay and its disc florets and ray florets are bright yellow that will make you smile from ear to ear, even on a not so sunny Fall day. 

• Black Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia) is the Maryland state flower and a cheery perennial with bright yellow petals that surround black centers. It’s a striking flower that does very well in clay soil. Plant them en masse and enjoy the show!

Shasta Daisy (Leucanthemum x superbum) With its classic daisy appearance of white petals around a yellow disc, they are attractive to bees and birds, and are drought-tolerant.  They do well in clay-heavy soil and have cheery blooms.

Leaf Removal Prevents Home and Garden Damage

Here a Leaf, There a Leaf 

Don’t be a procrastinator!  As we journey further into Fall, it’s important to get the leaves off the ground quickly and to mow your lawn until the first frost.  This will keep the grass strong and healthy.  If leaves aren’t removed and remain on your lawn as they fell, they’ll  deprive your lawn of important sunlight and rain that will help it stay healthy through the winter months. Also, if leaves are left on the ground, it will lead to mold and pest problems (mice, rats, etc.) because the water will get trapped in the lawn.

And be sure to remove leaves from your deck — leaves that accumulate on decks can lead to algae, mildew and mold, which will cause the wood to rot.  

And keep in mind, leaves do not just fall on your lawn and deck  — they fall in your gutters! Clean your gutters every month. Clean gutters will save you from experiencing  serious problems with water around your house whether it be landscaping erosion, water in your basement or damage to wood around your roof. But be careful on that ladder, and work in pairs to be sure you don’t have any ladder accidents.   

Gardenwise on Leaf Removal

Leaves, Leaves, Everywhere!

It’s really important to remove the leaves from your lawn — if they’re left there they’ll  deprive your lawn of important sunlight and rain that’s going to help it through the winter months. Also, if leaves are left on the ground, they could lead to mold problems and even pest problems (yes! mice, etc.) because the water will get trapped in the lawn.

Don’t be a procrastinator!  It’s important to get the leaves off the ground quickly and to to mow your lawn until the first frost. This will keep the grass strong and healthy. Be sure to remove leaves from your deck — leaves that accumulate on decks can lead to algae, mildew and mold, plus cause the wood to rot.

And remember, leaves do not just fall on your lawn and deck  — they fall in your gutters! Clean your gutters every month. Clean gutters will save you from experiencing  serious problems with water around your house whether it be landscaping erosion, water in your basement or damage to wood around your roof. But be careful on that ladder, and work in pairs to be sure you don’t have any ladder  accidents. 

Getting Ready for 2011          in 2010, DC Style!

A new GardenWise project in DC, pictured left, includes a new front entrance that is under construction. Improvements include new stone entry walk, and a front porch with surrounding seat wall.  An array of new plantings will include evergreens for year round interest, and  a variety of perennials and ground covers that will provide texture and variety for seasonal interest.