Oxfordshire Soil offers a rich variety of soil types including clay, sand, chalk and every gardener’s choice, silt. We’ll start our survey with these four…
Oxfordshire Soil – Oxford Clay
This is the prevalent Oxfordshire Soil, especially in the north of the county typified by the alluvial site of Otmoor. Clay, of course, is nutrient rich but drains poorly and is prone to waterlogging. However, once sufficient organic material has been dug in, most hedging plants will grow well.
The following plants find clay a relatively friendly environment: Carpinus betulus (Hornbeam); Escallonia Macrantha AGM; Euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald ‘n’ Gold’AGM; Euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald Gaiety’ AGM; Lonicera nitida and Thuja plicate Atrovirens (Western Red Cedar).
Oxfordshire Soil – Sandy
The antithesis to clay, sandy soil is a prominent feature of areas around Cowley, Tadmarton Heath and near rivers and lakes. Sandy soils can be nutrient-poor. Mulching and feeding will remedy this. However, drainage is normally excellent. Lavenders like nothing better than a sunny, sandy spot.
Plants recommended by the RHS for sandy soil include:
Taxus baccata (Yew); Leylandii; Griselinia littoralis; Photinia Red Robin and varieties of Elaeagnus; Escallonia; Lonicera; Pittosporum and Sarcococca. Lavender and Rosemary also grow well in sandy soils.
Oxfordshire Soil – Chalk soil
Chalk soil is prevalent in Harwell and on the Chilterns. Chalk retains some nutrients but is prone to leeching. It is, of course, generally very alkaline.
Plants recommended by the RHS for chalk soil include:
Carpinus betulus (Hornbeam); Fagus sylvatica (Beech); Taxus baccata (Yew); Thuja plicate Atrovirens (Western Red Cedar); Buxus sempervirens ‘Suffruticosa’ (Dwarf Box); Euonymus fortunei cultivars and Lonicera nitida. Lavenders, too, get the nod.
Oxfordshire Soil – Silt soil
Silt soil is fertile, light and reasonably well-draining. It is also prone to compacting and erosion by wind and water. This can be remedied by digging in organic matter. However, silt is the rarest of all soil types to be found in gardens, not least in Oxfordshire.