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South facing gravel shrubs - easy to propagate.

Hi all,

My parents have a very long wide area covered in gravel with the lovely weed fabric underneath. It's south facing and I am going to start planting shrubs in the area for them.

I was thinking a mix of evergreen and deciduous for year round interest. The soil would be clay but i understand the soil was slightly improved before adding the membrane and gravel with the intention of planting it up.

Just looking for some suggestion of plants for the area. I should say that the area is slightly sloped which is the reason it was graveled. 

I have already planted a few hydrangeas. I was thinking hebes would also work. I wonder would some form of repetition of plants along the length area could work well.

Hydrangeas, hebes, lower growing buddleias, some nice conifers and maybe some reliable perennials also. I would aim to plant the taller plants at the back etc. It's quite a big area so it was my intention to plant it over a few years really and propagate the plants from cuttings.

I guess a few roses could also work. Really I'm open to any suggestion of plants that could work quite well and mature to complement each other.

Many thanks in advance.


  • TheGreenManTheGreenMan Posts: 1,957
    Lupins will thrive in those conditions. Also lysimachia if you don’t mind them popping up all over. 
  • Lupins will thrive in those conditions. Also lysimachia if you don’t mind them popping up all over. 

    I have both so can divide from my own garden  :) I guess yellow loosestrifes would not spread much with the membrane... i hope.

  • Photo of the area attached.
  • As you can see, it's a very large area. I guess i was thinking more shrubs with membrane but I guess perennials would work mixed though. I guess if i get a big list of plants, i can try work out nice combinations.
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,819
    edited February 2023
    South facing won't suit most hydrangeas as they struggle in full sun, especially through the heat of summer.
    Hebes need decent drainage so you may need to experiment to see if they thrive well enough.
    Potentillas will be fine though, and almost any type of Spirea. How about some smaller feature trees too? Amelanchier are excellent in that sort of situation, as they don't block views or cast heavy shade, due to their lighter canopy. The slope also means the height is lessened a good bit. The beautiful winged Spindle, Euonymous alatus would also be fine. Both give great autumn colour.  Things like Ilex [holly] will be fine too.
    Ceanothus might be ok if the soil has good enough drainage. Likewise Escallonia. 
    Loosestrife [certainly the yellow one]  will spread regardless of membrane.
    Loads of perennials will suit- hardy Geraniums, Kniphofia, Astrantia, Monarda, Lychnis, Ligularia, Hemerocallis and some Irises - sibiricas, for example, will be fine in clay. Asters if there's adequate drainage. Unfortunately, the membrane would prevent spring bulbs unless you lifted a section and added some along with the perennials. There will be many, many more. 
    Avoid anything that loves really sharp drainage to thrive, at least until you see how other plants manage.  I assume there's fairly high rainfall there, so that will affect choices with the soil   :)

    I'm sure roses would also be fine but I don't grow those so someone else will be able to help with those. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • floraliesfloralies Posts: 2,683
    I have Cornus Alba baton rouge growing in a gravelled area. The red stems are quite spectacular in the winter. They take the heat and the winter weather and don't sucker.
  • PlantmindedPlantminded Posts: 3,483
    I'd think about the position and type of evergreens you'd like first so that you can get some structure into your planting and ensure that there's some interest there in winter.  Also, consider the bare outlines of deciduous trees, shrubs and perennials over winter to add interest.  If your border looks good at the worst time of year, you've done a good job!
    Wirral. Sandy, free draining soil.

  • LoxleyLoxley Posts: 5,689
    I would like to see masses of Miscanthus, in big groups, in the area shown in the picture. With some nice multi-stem shrubs like Cornus kousa. And larger perennials like Rubeckia maxima, Cephalaria gigantea, Persicaria amplexicaulis, Persicaria alpina, Thalictrum 'Elin'. Go bold!
    "What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbour". 
  • @jaffacakes If you type in 'Mitigating heat' at the top, on the first page I have posted a list of plants growing in my front garden. Soil is improved clay. Here is photo often shown before and upside down. It may give you an idea of the atmospere it creates.
     Retired Gardener, new build garden, clay soil, South Notts.

    The more I garden the less I know but the more pleasure I get from it. Monty Don 
  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 Posts: 12,394
    I would just add that if you plant a lot of perennials, you would need to factor in annual maintenance, I think shrubs might be easier to manage.
    North East Somerset - Clay soil over limestone
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