Updated: 17th February 2021
Clay soil can be very challenging even without the conundrum of how to fill it with plants that will benefit bees and other pollinators.
In a garden I owned some years ago, I spent two years, a lot of energy, many hours and a
small fortune on conditioners and composts, trying to
break up the heavy, wet clay in order to improve it. However, the truth of the matter was that I had little time for gardening back then, and also very limited knowledge. At that time, it would have been far better had I simply stuck with plants that are happy in wet conditions. I could have saved myself quite a bit of money, and hours of work.
Of course, if you have the time, energy, money and preferably all of these, there are actions you can take to resolve the issue, even going as far as installing drainage systems. However, that could prove costly and unnecessary. There are plenty of clay soil tolerant plants that attract bees and other pollinators. You may be surprised at how many plants will tolerate it - indeed, I only mention a handful here. Also, please check the suitability of these plants in your own region and country.
If your soil is so bad you could almost consider supplying a pottery works, you may need to take action to improve it in order that anything will grow, but first of all, I would consider consulting a specialist organisation to see whether that's necessary.
Another option might be to create raised beds. I have no idea how this would work in the longer term with regard to drainage. A small scale experiment with this idea if it appeals to you, might be wise.
In the meantime, why not try some of these clay soil - tolerant plants and shrubs in your garden. If you are able to grow them successfully, you are sure to attract bees and other pollinators once they are established. Also, see my tips below for seeking inspiration.
Consider these options:
I have always found it useful to refer to nature for inspiration in dealing with difficult growing patches. I have a dry wooded area in my garden, and as a result I have looked to the flora of wooded areas for inspiration of what to grow.
For clay soil, I would seek to find plants that are happy to get their roots wet in the natural growing environment.
in these conditions is hard work - I know! However, before you spend a
great deal of money on resolving the issue, trying out a few of these
plants may be a good idea and could save a lot of money too!
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