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Problem planting areas - slopes round ponds

Posted by Catharine on September 29th 2014
or should I say moats?   In Suffolk, east of England,  moats are ubiquitous .   I have lost count of how many customers I have with the address “Moat House Farm”. The problem is that the banks down to the water are steep.  So what are the options for maintenance and aesthetics?  Lush growth of weeds?  Regular strimming?  This gives a denuded look and chucks nutrients back into the water which is not good - bald looks apart.  So how best to plant the banks?  The soil is clay which cracks and dries out in the summer.  That rules out the list of marginals such as Lythrum virgatum that need to keep their roots wet. The look is for the wild effervescence of plants that look like they love water.  Second consideration is good ground cover so that the weeds are kept out.   I am experimenting with crocosmia, persicarias, sibirica irises and centranthus.  Plants that are good at establishing and clumping up .  Above all they must tolerate the crazy strictures of summer clay. As for these moats - what exactly are they?  A wet ditch round a house or castle but sometimes also found round  haystacks or orchards.  They were pretty practical - clay was dug out as a building material and then the owner was left with his sewage and drainage sorted and with a source of fish.  It's a little questionable how those three added up in a healthy way. In Elizabethan times they were a status symbol - not quite a deer park, but the next best thing.
Problem planting areas - slopes round ponds