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Against the flow Help gardens survive in heavy rain; Gardening.

Byline: David Domoney

FLOOD-hit Britain has been struggling through the storms this year, with large swathes of the country submerged.

It is having a huge impact on many people's day-to-day lives - but our gardens are suffering too.

Excessive waterlogging limits the oxygen supply to roots.

Over a long period it can kill or seriously damage the plant.

Symptoms include leaves yellowing, herbaceous plants not growing and the smell of dank vegetation in soil where roots and tubers have rotted.

The good news is there is not a lot of activity in plants at this time of year. Many of them are dormant for the winter. Excessive waterlogging in the middle of the summer is dramatically more harmful.

So don't panic. In most cases the water will drain away, not having caused a huge amount of damage to your garden.

But I have some simple steps to help your garden recover and limit future damage.

In the short-term, try to keep off the soil if it is waterlogged or damaged. And don't dig or walk on it until it's dried out.

I would, however, clear as much debris as possible from drains, borders, guttering and curbs.

Remove obviously dead plants and dig out dead roots.

Some people believe digging grit or sand into heavy clay soil aids drainage. I'm not a fan of introducing gravel but I do believe in putting a lot of organic matter into the soil.

Dig it in and it will start to break down the clay. You'll need a lot, about one wheelbarrow to one metre of soil, but over a period of time it will really help draining.

If you have a natural slope you can dig a drainage ditch to direct the water to a drain or soak it away.

One idea to drain excess rainfall is to dig a sink hole below the water table at a low point in the garden and fill it with rubble.

And remember, whenever you are laying a patio, slope it towards a drain so the water doesn't collect in puddles or flood the garden or house.

Another option if you're in an area that is prone to annual flooding is to create raised beds using old railway sleepers or decking boards.

These will lift plants and veg above the waterline. They area lot easier to weed and crop at waist height too. If you are putting in trees, plant them on TipWHEN you harvest cucumbers, don't pick whole off half and a slight mound. It looks ornamental and will help prevent their roots becoming waterlogged.

Plants that will survive and even thrive in waterlogged or damp conditions include hostas, irises and astilbes. Also try dogwood, hydrangeas and flowering nutmeg.

If you have got an area that is particularly damp, willows and birch are big drinkers. They'll help dry the ground out.

But don't plant them near your house or drains. They will seek moisture wherever they can find it - and will block them.

While it is easy to feel down about the damp conditions, it is important to remember that we live in a country that has always had a wet climate. This is one of the reasons for our green and pleasant land.

thing. wrap If wet the and you harvest cucumbers, don't pick whole thing.

Cut off half and wrap clingfilm on the end of the bit still attached to the plant. It'll keep fresher for longer than in the fridge.
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Title Annotation:Features; Opinion, Column
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Feb 23, 2014
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