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Cold and damp gardens

My own garden (Sandro's Garden) is a cold and damp garden, being north facing, 1,000 feet above sea level, with only a three months growing season. I have chosen to plant woodland species and wetland species as these are the most appropriate for such a site. Woodland species can be planted in a sheltered part of a colder damp garden. However, wetland species are very hardy and will grow almost anywhere. 

In Ireland, in summer, moist soils are always cool . A cold moist soil is usually covered in moss, sedges or rush, it tends to heat up slowly in spring and cool down slowly in the autumn and favours late flowering autumn species, such as fleabane and devils bit. Often you will find a soil with a high clay content. Its ph tends to be neutral to acid.
Damp and cold gardens will favour spring flowering species such a s ragged robin whose stems carry laced pink petals to 2 feet. Ladies smock will attract butterflies for miles and Yellow rattle, Oxeye Daisy and Sorrel will grow in abundance. Red clover, Hawksbit, Water Avens will flower in the summer and meadow sweet, iris and loosestrife will grow tall in the high summer. 

Ragged Robin is an excellent species for a damp area.

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wetland and moisture loving wildflowers


Plants that like a cold and damp garden will try to cover the soil quickly. they are able to exploit the gaps created by the harsh conditions. Therefore weeds such as creeping buttercup can be a problem and if you have creeping buttercup on your site, try to eliminate it before you sow seeds. 

To improve a cold damp garden, create suntraps, either south facing semi-circles of trees and shrubs, surrounding the garden or part of the garden you wish to warm up. Bookmark suntraps earlier on page. As with most wild flower plants use thick belts of conifers to the north. On the windward site, mix small more shade tolerant conifers with the faster growing pioneer broadleaf trees and wind hardy shrubs. Our recommended native Irish species are Ash, Birch, Rowan, Alter, Elder, Willow, Viburnum, Rubus species and Tutsan.

To the south only plant fruit trees and a few small wind hardy shrubs and an occasional upright tree such as birch or rowan. This will keep the centre of your suntrap sunny into which you can plant your meadow. By doing this plants such as meadowsweet who enjoy a cold damp soil will send their flowers into the sunshine and produce the most wonderful scent. Species like devils bit will produce more nectar for butterflies which really appreciate the shelter provided for the suntrap. 

Into your suntrap about 20feet away from the trees, plant fruit or more exotic ornamental trees as that is where you will trap the sun and want to put your deckchair. All species including the meadow flora will benefit from the increased air temperatures and the warmer soil found inside a suntrap. 

A woodland on a cold and damp site.

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Its often the best choice to plant a woodland garden from young whips or sapling trees which will grow quickly and provide essential shelter. In many cases a woodland can be created as a shelter belt with trees, shrubs and wild flowers all planted at once. See Orchard. Mixture.

When woodland grows it will help keep the soil most, so tall trees tend to blow over on a wet soil, so try to plant species which grow to no greater than 60ft, like birch, alter, ash. The woodland will help maintain rising temperatures in early summer.

 

 

 

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