Creating a water garden

Creating a water garden<br />
    The recent wet weather that has severely affected some parts of the country has also had an impact on gardeners.

If the damp conditions are here to stay, gardeners may wish to consider adapting and working with the weather, rather than battling against it.

In the Telegraph, Bunny Guinness suggests developing a rain garden to cope with the increased rainfall.

Gardeners can use many methods to collect, retain and slow down water. Roofs, gutters, downpipes and channels can be used, as well as planted areas and pools.

Herbaceous and shrub planting, along with small trees, helps to retain downfalls.

Horticulturalist Nigel Dunnett is well-known for his work on the Olympic site and his gold-winning Blue Water Roof Garden at the Chelsea Flower Show last year. He recently moved to the Peak District and his new, hillside garden puts many of his ideas into practice.

Downpipes lead from his house to a shallow pool on his terrace, which has a pebbled bank to reduce erosion.

Surplus water is directed via a spillover to a series of rectilinear borders that flank an entrance path to his house.

He uses many plants that can survive in wet and dry conditions. These include Thalictrum ‘Black Stockings’, lacy foliage and clusters of lavender purple flowers; many hemerocallis; Japanese anemones; and grasses such as miscanthus (elephant grass), carex (sedge) and Molinia caerulea (purple moor-grass).

The slabs on Mr Dunnett’s paved area are bedded on sand and hardcore as opposed to mortar, allowing water to percolate through.

Trees can be used to absorb water – they are more effective than other forms of vegetation, but deciduous varieties have little impact during winter, when flooding tends to occur.

Coppiced trees work best in rain gardens, such as ornamental willows, alders and the river or red birch and Betula nigra.

Temporary pools and streams can be hard for gardeners to deal with. A one-way valve can be used, which allows the emerging groundwater to flow into the lined pool, raising the water level. The soil above can take the form of a marshy area, if desired.

With wet weather a seemingly permanent fixture nowadays, water gardens could be the way forward for gardeners.

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