Some soggy, boggy bliss

Sentebale Forget-me-not Garden, designed by Jinny Blom, during the Chelsea Flower Show (picture  Sang Tan/AP/PA Photos)
Sentebale Forget-me-not Garden, designed by Jinny Blom, during the Chelsea Flower Show (picture Sang Tan/AP/PA Photos)

Maverick designer Diarmuid Gavin advised gardeners that they would have to roll with the weather to ensure their gardens survived and thrived the extremes.

That advice may prove useful to people who are looking out on yet another rainy day and wondering which plantings will withstand consistently soggy conditions and come to life in very wet soil.

Look at the positives of having a boggy site. Damp ground is a valuable wildlife habitat and there are plenty of plants which will thrive happily with wet feet, including bugle (Ajuga reptans), Siberian iris, lobelia, Arum lily and globeflower.

As for trees, native willows and alder are at their happiest in damp conditions if you have plenty of space to plant them a safe distance from your house.

Quite a few perennials and shrubs will thrive, such as hostas (although be vigilant against slugs and snails) and Jerusalem sage (Pulmonaria saccharata), an evergreen with white spotted foliage and red, pink or white flowers that bloom from late winter to late spring, while the foam flower (Tiarella cordifolia) is a spreading perennial with spikes of creamy white.

Popular shrubs which will tolerate a lot of water include many viburnums, dogwoods and spiraea. For those with big bog gardens which are wet throughout the winter and damp in summer, go for the enormous Gunnera manicata, which has dark green deciduous leaves spanning up to 2.5m (8ft) and provides a great backdrop for seasonal flowers.

If you haven’t much space, it may be better to plump for smaller specimens such as houttuynia and mimulus, which go well together.

Another plant that boasts impressive foliage is the skunk cabbage (Lysichiton americanus), which grows 1m (3ft) high by 1.25m (4ft) wide. But try not to plant it too close to nose level, as its big yellow flowers have a striking odour.

If you are creating a bog garden, bear in mind that bog plants look best in bold groups. Combine a good clump of foliage with some smaller, more colourful choices.

For those who want more colour, astilbes love wet soil and produce delicate plumes in white, pink, mauve, red and crimson in summer.

For a splash of green and yellow in spring, Euphorbia palustris is the one to go for, although beware of the milky sap which can irritate skin.

Cowslips should also be included in your bog garden border. Among the best is the giant cowslip (primula florindae), which grows to around 1m (3ft) and carries stunning tubular pendant yellow scented flowers in summer.

Another wonderful variety which is easily sown from seed is Primula denticulata, which bears beautiful flowerballs in lavender, cerise, mauve or white. And candelabra primulas are also bursting with colour in early summer, in a vast range of colours.

For a tall, elegant perennial, try Ligularia przewalskii, which has 2m (6ft) high stems and produces spires of yellow flowers in mid to late summer.

If you want your colour scheme to last longer, plant some Rodgersia podophylla, which has creamy white flowers in the summer and leaves which change colour beautifully in the autumn.

With plants which love soggy conditions, weed carefully as many of them will seed around the parents. If primulas do this, they have a tendency to produce a lot more colours.

If you want your wet garden to look natural, plant around existing features such as logs or mossy tree stumps.