It is difficult to give advice on planting. What would you do with a brief like this:
- Sloping site, next to the house and visible from the living rooms
- Partial tree cover and clay soil
- Unsightly retaining wall
- Limited budget
- Stylish, contemporary conversion in the countryside, surrounded by beautiful wood
- Busy owners who are just starting to garden
Is there a vision which could be described? Is this garden, a mix of grasses and colour, by Ton ter Linden the aim? The Knoll Gardens site has several interesting photographs of gardens planted with grasses.
If so, what do you think of these ideas? Miscanthus Sinensis ‘Kleine Silberspinne‘ is upright while other varieties (‘Herman Mussell) arch more softly, Carex Elata Aurea, Pennisetum Alpecuriodes ‘Hamelm‘ are lower growing and could give variation in height… Knoll Gardens helps with selecting the best grasses for a specific site.
And spilling over the edge of the retaining wall Stipa Tenuissima, Nepeta, Alchemilla, or even the humble trailing lobelia. Friends are always pulling out self-seeded alchemilla and lobelia come in multipacks early in the season. Stipa are propagated fairly easily but take time to mature unless you have a greenhouse.
And what about colour? Crocosmia Lucifer, Sanguisorba, Sedums, or annuals like Gaillardia or Cosmos which could be changed each year? Sedums are easy to propagate and probably available from friends; cosmos can be found in economical multipacks early in the season, and even crocosmia bulbs can be found cheaply on the internet and will increase over time. Or what about wild flowers, which can be planted as plugs? For colour early in the year you could tuck in some bulbs, or bergenias.
You may be interested in
Top Ten Plants of the Dutch Wave
Knoll Gardens – great site with beautiful photographs & loads of information, particularly grasses
Kimmei – another excellent site, with photographs & information on grasses
Designing with grasses – thoughtful article
Dutch-influenced gardens in the UK
Bee-friendly wild flowers