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.