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Water-Logged Gardens With Eugene Higgins

Wednesday, 5 September 2007


After the wet summer we've just had Eugene is here to tell us how to reverse the damage the wet weather has caused to gardens all across the country this summer.Eugene will also be taking your calls so get in touch!

On August 25th, the Irish Independent and Met Eireann documented that Ireland had been subjected to rain for 40 days straight. It noted that this marked the 40th wet day since St Swithin's day, ringing true a legend which has existed for over 1,000 years. The proverb goes that should it rain on St Swithin's day, July 15, it will continue to rain every day for the next 40. The legend stretches back as far back as 1,036 years when the remains of St Swithin were buried on July 15, 971, after which there was heavy rainfall.This summer has been one of the worst in recent history.

The Phoenix Park in Dublin had 297mm of rain in two months, the highest level in its 170-year records, while Mullingar had its wettest July since 1960.

The Good
So did the rain destroy everything this summer?
Believe it or not, excessive rain has made the garden grow better than ever.
Many flowers are blooming and hanging baskets in particular that normally look dried out at this time of year are thriving.  Normal rain would not penetrate the baskets. But the torrential rain has.

The Bad
Tell us about the damage?
The continuous rain and miserable weather caused many problems including the following:
You cut not cut the lawn
You could not work in the garden
Roses suffered as they don't like wet conditions
Vegetables did badly
Laying a lawn was difficult.
Slugs and bugs were on the increase.

Now the weather is improving so soon we will notice an improvement in our roses, veg. The bugs will be less. Good weather means we can work in our garden to reverse the waterlogging damage.

What type of problem has the waterlogging caused?
When soil is waterlogged, plants suffer. Roots need oxygen and if the soil has too much water, the oxygen can't get to the roots. Wet areas are low in nitrogen which helps leaves to grow. Wet soil also encourages fungus disease that attacks roots.

How do we reverse the damage?
Very wet soil tends to dry in a compact block. When you walk on it you compact it down. To help drain the soil away you should spike it with a fork.

If you have a problem with your garden being wet as it or part of it is in the shade, you should try to build a French drain. This involves digging a trench and filling it with porous sheeting and pebble. Alternatively you could place some drainage pipe here. This results in excessive water draining away.

The Plants
So what do you have for the gardener who is eager to get out and start planting again?

4 plants all widely available.
1. Dierama €11.95
This plant is also known as Angel's fishing rod. Eugene thinks this is a fantastic plant. It is suitable for wet gardens.  If you plant it beside any kind of water feature, when flowering which can take up to 3 years, the flowers grow towards the water.

2. Aucuba Japonica Variegata €12.95
This evergreen two toned shrub will grow almost anywhere including damp areas.

3. Helleborus €11.95
This Jan/Feb winter flowering plant is also known as Christmas rose. It is great to plant at this time of year.

4. Vinca minor variegate €8.45
This low growing shade loving blue flowering plant is great in a damp garden.



Eugene is ready to take your calls!