Perennials needed for WET, Clay, Shade

bigbrownthumbJune 24, 2008

I have a narrow strip of land between my privacy fence and driveway about 6" to 1' wide that I've been looking to fill with a hardy ground cover that will like the conditions as is.

The year before last I put Creeping Myrtle in there and it died.

Last year I put Dragon's Blood Sedum in there and it died. I also put in Winter Creeper and it is doing so-so. Each plant has gotten very spindly but it's not spreading or re-rooting like I thought a "creeper" would. About half of them didn't survive the winter.

This spot floods every time it rains so I need a plant that doesn't mind being under water for a spell. Plus, there is a lot of clay in the ground so it doesn't drain well. If I absolutely HAVE to do SOMEthing to the soil, please spell out for me the path of least resistance. As you can see by my name, I'm not an avid gardener.

This is the worst thing to try to learn without having someone here to help you get the feel of it and I'm getting really bummed : (

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One word...HOSTAS

    Bookmark   June 25, 2008 at 12:11AM
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I'm from the K.C., Mo. area so don't think my winters are quite as severe as yours, but we do get freezing and snow. I also have clay soil in some of my gardens. I've found that "Magic Carpet" Thyme is quite hardy & works very well as a ground cover in an occasionally soggy area. I also love the lemon scent. It might be worth a try. Hope this helps. Good luck!

    Bookmark   June 25, 2008 at 12:11AM
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leslies(z7 No VA)

This could be an excellent spot for variegated bishop's weed (aegopodium). Normally this is a plant to avoid at all costs, but it's cheap and readily available, it's indestructable, it spreads, it lights up a shady spot and on the side with the driveway, at least, it should be controllable.

What's on the other side of the privacy fence? Neighbor's driveway - or neighbor's garden? Do you like your neighbor?

    Bookmark   June 25, 2008 at 5:17PM
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mikeygraz(5 Omaha, NE)

I'd recommend astilbes, bergenias, Carex, hostas, chelone lyonii (turtleheads)...

    Bookmark   June 25, 2008 at 5:51PM
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Did you say it's 6 inches to 1 foot wide? Something that crawls on top, rather than sending out long runners will be better. That's a very narrow space.

Creeping Jenny 'Aurea', Lysimachia nummularia (aka gold moneywort) might work for you. I have it growing over rock alongside my stream in both shady and sunny spots and it doesn't care about the soil as long as it's fairly moist. Some places it is invasive, but I don't have a problem with it here. It's aggressive (fast growing).

The gold groundcover is Creeping Jenny:

    Bookmark   June 25, 2008 at 9:01PM
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that is what growling in wet clay shade for me and I had to create that additional wetness- dug soil and placed pond liner under bed as well.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2008 at 9:40PM
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marcia_m(5 and 9)

What is the big leaved plant in the center foreground, Linda?

    Bookmark   June 26, 2008 at 10:06AM
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gracie01(z5 IL)

Ajuga; once it gets going there's no stopping it.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2008 at 12:03PM
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Thanks to everyone for the replies. Some cracked me up "do you like your neighbor?" LOL
Actually, the other side of my privacy fence is a row of concrete blocks to prevent his crap from growing onto my side. Beyond that, there is a chain link fence and his grass. Yes, there is about 1' distance between our two fences. Weirdness but there's your answer to how well I get along with my neighbor. LOL

The area is really too narrow for hostas and I had one growing in the wider portion and it really hasn't done well.

SO, the next question is, where do you get your plants? I go to the nurseries and gardens with a list and can never find anything I'm looking for...I've never done mail order. Is it recommended?

    Bookmark   June 26, 2008 at 4:01PM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

Have you considered putting some good soil on top of the clay? Ground covers don't make really deep roots (at least some), so that might be just enough to get them up out of the flood and give them a fighting chance. Mazus reptans would do well in your conditions if you can get them out of the standing water. It's well behaved. Your neighbor won't be bothered. :) I have it growing on truly hard, packed down clay, but with about one to two inches or so of compost. If your ground is really low, maybe you could use something cheap for the bottom and then a better quality over the top. Mazus is evergreen and can take some foot traffic too. From a distance it looks like a putting green. (Blooms in the spring too.)

    Bookmark   June 26, 2008 at 6:29PM
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Get a few creeping jenny to start. Then when it rains, go out and pinch off a sprig and stick it in the ground to root. After awhile you'll have all you need. :-) Lowes Hardware carries jenny around here. Shouldn't be more than $2 or so per plant.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2008 at 7:18PM
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I'm lucky I guess, that I have a couple of really great nurseries I buy most of my plants from, but I have also bought several through mail order. I've had pretty good luck with Jackson Perkins, Spring Hill Nurseries and also Wayside Gardens. The main drawback to mail order in my opinion is the plants you receive are very small, young plants so you have to wait a season, sometimes longer, to see the fully grown plant. Generally they're really healthy though, so with care they'll make it to maturity. I've purchased a couple of plants through Ebay, but hesitate to recommend that. I've received the wrong ones and also a couple that weren't that well packed that were on the verge of dying when I received them. I'm sure there are sellers there that are good ones, but how do you know which ones?

    Bookmark   June 26, 2008 at 10:38PM
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C'mon, it should be a perfect place for a plain ole pachysandra -wet shade, clay what else does it need?

    Bookmark   June 26, 2008 at 11:09PM
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You guys are all AWESOME!

I've got my list and am feeling inspired. I think I will try the pachysandra and maybe mix in a few of the other plants listed. I forgot to mention that I have 3 Japanese Holly/Sky Pencils that I put in last year at the wider section of the strip and they seem to be doing fine. I think it will compliment the pachysandra well.

I think I'm going to try to raise the bed also.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2008 at 11:56PM
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big leaved plant in the center is astilboides tabularis, there is also various iris, daylily, ferns, geum rivale, euphoribia palustris on the right, ornamental rhubarb rheum palmatum atrosanguineum in the back center, japanese maples to the left, hardy geraniums, primulas,etc
most plants you see in my pic are seed grown. I do what they call winter sowing- welcome to check Winter sowing forum FAQ- and grow gazillions of my own plants.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2008 at 1:12AM
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marcia_m(5 and 9)

Thanks, Linda. I don't know if I have a spot for it that is shady/moist enough, but they sure look lovely in your garden.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2008 at 12:12PM
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Do you have a nursery near you that specializes in ponds? They usually sell a variety of plants suited to your condition.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2008 at 7:44PM
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arbo_retum(z5 ,WinchstrMA)

linda, what a HANDSOME planting. my one question- japanese maple in WET?????!!!!! i've always been taught they they're like rhodos- happy growing on rock.....
we have 50 here in the arboretum, but none in wet soil, much less clay! wow, really?


    Bookmark   June 28, 2008 at 10:49PM
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One word of warning about the bishop's weed, when someone says it spreads, they aren't kidding. I have some in my back bed (I didn't even plant it -- no idea where it came from) and it went berserk. I guess it depends on how much maintenance you want. If you keep up on it you can keep it under control but it will take a mile if you give it a quarter of an inch! The creeping jenny is definitely a good groundcover. I also have catchfly, sundrops, blue cohash, trillium, daylilies, autumn fern and chocolate mint growing in my wet clay shade (it does get some dappled light a couple times a day through the trees). The mint is invasive too, but it smells so yummy when you pull up the runners -- like being in a box of Thin Mints Cookies :).

    Bookmark   June 29, 2008 at 9:03PM
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pondwelr(z5 WI)

For a simple and permanent solution, you could lay flagstones (obviously, long and narrow ones) all along the narrowest strip. Fill in between with small gravel, and if you choose, plant thyme or moss in that gravel.

For added color, add seasonal pots of annuals on the big stones.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2008 at 12:18PM
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That sound really pretty. What an awesome idea!

    Bookmark   July 2, 2008 at 12:48AM
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pondwelr(z5 WI)

I am amazed at what grows well in gravel. I have an arbor
entryway to my patio, right next to a downspout. Under the arbor is a deep layer of gravel. And this area gets a ton of seasonal water from the downspout. This year I had at least 50 or more columbine that self seeded in that gravel!
This year, I put thyme in there too. Its doing very well.

Of course, nothing grows under the flagstones.

This year I put thyme in there too, & its doing very well. My absolute easiest garden area to care for!

Good luck with whatever you choose. Pondy

    Bookmark   July 2, 2008 at 8:42PM
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