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If you Garden in the South East (the White Cliffs of Dover) you will know you have mostly lime rich chalky soil, it is dry, stony and low in nutrient, but by choosing the right plants, species that are naturally adapted to these environments like our own wildflowers growing in the meadows of the South Downs and the Mediterranean flowers and shrubs that are at home in chalky soil, lovely gardens have been created on chalk.
For those of us not sure what type of garden soil we have, a simple soil
test will point us in the right direction.
We then have choices, spend a fortune trying to change the chalky soil in our garden, or grow what will grow. If you want to grow lime-hating plants like rhododendrons, camellias, azaleas and heathers and you have chalky soil, grow them in containers filled with ericaceous compost
The types of plant I know will grow well in Chalky soil are:
Other Chalk loving Hardy perennials to be mixed with the plants I have mentioned above too create a natural chalk garden.
Androsace lanuginosa Rock jasmine, Aster amellus 'King George' Aster, Aster x frikartii 'Monch' Aster, Bellis perennis 'Pomponette' Bellis daisy, Bergenia cordifolia 'Purpurea' Elephant's ears, Blechnum spicant Hard fern, Briza maxima Greater quaking grass, Buglossoidespurpurocaerulea Gromwell, Campanula takesimana 'Elizabeth' bellflower,
entranthus ruber var. coccineus Red valerian, Cephalaria gigantea Giant scabious, Cerastium tomentosum Snow-in-summer, Chelone obliqua Turtle head, Clematis tubulosa 'Wyevale' Clematis, Coreopsis verticillata 'Moonbeam' Tickseed , Crocosmia 'Lucifer' Crocosmia, Deschampsia cespitosa 'Goldtau' Tussock grass, Bleeding heart, Dryopteris filix-mas Male fern.
There are several more wildflowers that will grow and thrive in chalk soil wildflowers grow in
Identifying chalky soil
Chalky soils range from gravelly to clayey in appearance and can be light or heavy, but are largely made up of calcium carbonate and are very alkaline (they have a pH of 7.1-8.0) To test for lime in the soil fill a jam-jar with vinegar and drop some soil in, if it froths it contains chalk or limestone and is lime rich.
The problems with gardening on chalky soil.
Good things about chalky soil.
How to improve chalky soil.
My advice would be to make the most of what you've got, or move home to London on clay, but if you want to spend money and time, here are a few things you can do;