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Plants for Clay Soil

Clay soil is usually heavy, wet and hard to dig in the winter but tends to dry out and crack in the summer. However, the soil can be improved and there are plenty of plants happy to live in clay soil. Improve clay soil by:

- Digging it over in the autumn and leave it in 'clods' (big lumps). The wind and frost will break it down
- Add bulky organic matter each spring such as manure
- Add some gravel or grit which helps separate the sticky clay particles - creating gaps for air and water.

Clay soil isn't necessarily a bad thing - clay soil is actually full of nutrients.

Here is a list of plants that will be happy in clay soil.

Trees

Prunus (Flowering Cherry) - Likes the sun, pink or white flowers in spring
Betula (Birch) - prefers shade, slow growing

Evergreen Shrubs

Pyracantha (firethorn) - Likes the sun, thorny stems, white flowers in spring, red, orange or yellow berries in the autumn
Buxus (Box) - Likes the sun, small leaves, ideal of hedging / topiary
Viburnum tinus - Prefers shade, spring/summer flowers, dark leaves
Choisya ternata - Sun or shade, fragrant white flowers

Deciduous Shrubs

Philadelphus (Mock Orange) - Likes the sun, white flowers, fragrant.
Sambucus 'Black Lace'  (Black Elder) - Likes the sun, dark leaves, pink flowers in summer, purple berries in autumn
Kerria - Prefers shade, yellow flowers in spring
Hydrangea - Happy in shade, large flowers.

Herbaceous Perennials

Helenium - Likes the sun, red, orange and yellow flowers in late summer, quite tall.
Astrantia (Masterwort) - Likes the sun, red, pink or cream flowers, quite tall.
Anemone Japonica - Prefers shade, pink or white blooms, flowers late summer, quite tall.
Aquilegia (Columbine) - Sun or shade, summer flowers in many colours, quite tall.
Paeonia (Peony) - Likes sun, large red or pink blooms, low growing.
Hemerocallis (Day Lily) - Likes sun, lily shaped flowers in orange, red and yellow.
Hosta - Happy in shade, many shades of green, low growing
Bergenia (Elephants Ears) - Happy in shade, spring flowers in pink or white, low growing

Grasses

Calamagrostis (Reed Grass) - Likes sun, tall stems, fast growing, feathery flowering spikes in late summer
Deschampsia - Happy in shade, mound shaped, flower spikes in mid summer.

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