What if we treated the sloping site like a gravel garden, and planted with spaces between the plants?
We have to tackle a blank canvas and a sloping site – and the plants need to be HARDY. The soil is normal, and there is sunshine, apart from the shade under the magnolia tree.
What to plant underneath the magnolia tree? Euphorbias, Brunnera, Bergenias…
They murmured something about ‘a table and chairs for sipping wine…’ and I think either this, or a small tree, but we need some kind of focus to balance the magnolia. (I remembered this view at Pensthorpe.) And then hardy, easy care plants: Miscanthus ‘Kleine silberspinne’ and ‘Morning Light’ behind the table and chairs, with Cornus Alba ‘Elegantissima’ or Viburnum Opulus ‘Compactum’ along the barn wall on the right hand side.
And in the sunny part: Pennisetum Alpecuroides ‘Hamelm’, ‘Karley Rose’, or ‘Villosum’; Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’, with Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ and Alchemilla spilling over the edges and attracting the bees.
And for height should we squeeze in Anemone ‘Hadspens Abundance’, Verbena Bonariensis? Or are Rudbeckia and Gaillardia better colours?
Another idea for the sloping site would be to use dogwoods – different varieties of Cornus. This would create a leafy bank, with soft greens and whites, and coloured bark in the winter. Growth could and must be controlled by pruning early in the spring. But I wonder if the site is damp enough? And is this the right ‘image’?