Not all plants do well with changes in soil water levels, but there are plenty that do and many Scottish natives seem to be born for this job. By planting, soil life is encouraged through root growth and root renewal, and leaf fall ensures there is slow topsoil buildup, both of which ease the compaction of soil. On top of that, the plants act like a sponge when it rains, and slowly release water back into the atmosphere and soil in drier periods. It can be this simple to improve water cycles in your garden and here some great recommendations!
Alder, Alnus glutinosa
A beautiful tree with that is an indicator species of wet soil. It has evolved to grow in boggy soil and uses this to its full advantage. It is a nitrogen fixer, similar to peas and beans in the vegetable garden. Through leaf fall and constant root regeneration, it releases this nitrogen into the soil. Soil life then helps to make this nitrogen available to other plants in your garden.
Goat willow, Salix caprea
This tree is associated with riverbanks and the iconic catkins are a lovely spring feature in the garden. Although there are cultivated forms with weeping branches, I personally prefer the uncultivated variety, giving a very natural feel to the garden.
Yellow flag, Iris pseudacorus
For very boggy sites, yellow flag is a wonderful native that spreads in the right conditions. It attracts pollinators and adds height and colour in summer.
Angelica, Angelica archangelica
This is one of my favourite plants in shady, damp conditions. It is not only unassumingly gorgeous in flower, the skeleton of the seed head is an attractive winter feature in any border. It self-seeds throughout the garden, so every year there is a playful spontaneity weaved through the border. Purple cultivated varieties grow a lot taller and make impact with their colour.
Sweet Cicely, Myrrhis odorata
Every year when the green seed pods appear, my boys eagerly pick them and pop them straight in their mouth. The liquorice taste is fresh and exciting. The plant itself has this wonderful soft, lacy feel to it. Low growing with a soft green and typical white spots, it is great for bigger gardens where its slowly spreading habit is not a problem. The entire plant is edible, but please only eat if you are sure about what plant you are picking from, when, for example, it has been bought as a plant and planted out in your garden. Some wild plants in the carrot family are poisonous.
Katrina Flad runs her sustainable garden design and landscaping business frock n wellies from her home in Aberdeenshire. Passionate about the planet and all things that live on it, she wanted to make a real difference to her environment ever since she can remember. In her regular column, Katrina will bring you design solutions for your garden which are sustainable, practical and beautiful. Follow Katrina at frock n wellies on Instagram and Facebook.