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Planting around a tree in full sun

So... I have a large twisted willow tree with a very high canopy. There is a circle around the base where in spring I’ve got cyclamen bluebells etc. This summer o created a wild flower meadow circle but having just cleared it all away am left with a bare circle of earth. So help please: dry fryable but clay based soil, full sun, some tree roots! No grass/turf suggestions please!!



  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 34,591
    When you say "no grass" do you mean lawn grass , or ornamental grasses?
    I think a mass of hakonechloa would look lovely. 
    If that's the wrong "grass" Soz!!
  • Hi thanks! Yes I love hakonechloa grass and have an area of topiary buxus balls surrounded by what will be a mass of h.grass one day 
    so this needs to be something else I think (or does it? 🤔) 
    hakonekloa are quite pricy & I’d love to find a way more cheaply 🙏🏻
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,029
    Is it to replace the wildflower area and be a permanent planting?
    Euphorbias would work, but anything you try will need some care initially to cope with the roots and lack of water. 
    I'd take those lower branches off as well to keep the trunks clean up to a decent height  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • Thanks Fairygirl & hostafan1 ...
    yes it’s to replace the wildflowers , that didn’t really work & looked tatty for longer than they looked good! 
    I’d like permanent planting and although it’s under a tree it’s not woodland type plants. The tree has a very high canopy, there is a rose growing through it and as you can see in the photo a couple of irises grow at the base. It’s a dry sunny site - as the tree canopy is so high it doesn’t create shade...
    I’m looking for mass planting, low maintenance (although I know initially I’ll need to water daily) and quite contemporary.
    we open each year for the NGS (maple barn, Pebworth, Warwickshire) 😊☀️🤔👌🏻
  • debs64debs64 Posts: 5,029
    I love salvias and they are pretty tough and inexpensive especially if you have them elsewhere and can take cuttings and the colour choice is pretty wide. 
  • purplerallimpurplerallim Posts: 5,117
    I know you said not woodland, but ferns? Or maybe Gaziania for a real pop of colour, I have even managed to overwinter them in the ground with a good mulch on them. Crocosmia for height they will battle any growing conditions. Just a thought.
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 86,174
    edited July 2019
    I have a similar spot ... we have a mixture of lamiums and hardy geraniums with hellebore argutifolius,  iris foetidissima and that sort of thing ... but even these need watering in dry spells... and it's not neat and tidy ... more 'sunny woodland edge' sort of thing .... looking at similar spots in the wild ivy seems to manage by itself ... you could keep a neat bed of ivy by clipping ... but it's not going to be colourful ... sorry, not a lot of help :/

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • NollieNollie Posts: 7,341
    I have euphorbia polychroma ‘bonfire’ edging a very dry bed where there is not much planting depth - forms a low mound of ever-changing colour, from green to plum to orange with acid yellow flowers. That might make a good edging around your circle? Looks great with orange agastache, you could add some purple salvias in the middle, alliums for height maybe... all those are drought tolerant, like full sun and would cope with the competition from the tree.
    Mountainous Northern Catalunya, Spain. Hot summers, cold winters.
  • How lovely of you all to reply! My first time in this forum & some fabulous ideas!! 👌🏻🙏🏻
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