As I am currently working on a garden with clay soil, I thought it would be good to discuss some suitable plants for clay soil. Clay soil can cause a sharp in take of breath, but I would much prefer a clay soil to a sandy one. The garden I have designed is typically English with a beautifully painted summerhouse, obelisks and trellis work. Local stone has been used for the paving and the layout is symmetrical and linear. The style of the garden has therefore dictated the planting and luckily many of the plants on the Clients’ wish list are suitable for clay. There are a few extra sticky areas in the garden where we have had to do some thorough ground work to improve it, however in the main I am just working with what we have. Unfortunately we have had to cull the idea of lavender beds and some yew topiary but there are plenty of other options to work with.

The colours in the garden are blues, pinks, purples, white and deep burgundy. An existing purple Japanese Acer dictated the deep burgundy colour and this is being picked up around the garden in shrubs and perennials.

Many of the plants in the following list are being used in the garden and I have added some extras which will also be happy in a clay soil, this is just a taster as there are plenty of options.


  • Pyrus salicifolia ‘Pendula’
  • Carpinus betulus
  • Malus
  • Quercus robur
  • Crataegus
  • Catalpa bignonioides
  • Sorbus intermedia
  • Platanus x hispanica
  • Amelanchier



  • Magnolia
  • Sambucus
  • Mahonia
  • Cotinus
  • Spiraea
  • Viburnum
  • Chaenomeles
  • Escallonia
  • Hydrangea
  • Rhododendron
  • Philadelphus
  • Aucuba
  • Choisya
  • Osmanthus
  • Skimmia



  • Ajuga
  • Aster
  • Aquilegia
  • Bergenia
  • Astrantia
  • Hemerocallis
  • Astilbe
  • Brunnera
  • Polemonium
  • Pulmonaria
  • Hosta
  • Campanula
  • Aconitum
  • Actaea
  • Rodgersia
  • Eupatorium
  • Persicaria
  • Delphinium
  • Ligularia
  • Sanguisorba
  • Helianthus
  • Inula


And finally, and luckily, roses just love clay soil as it offers plenty of nutrients. This garden is going to be filled with shrub and climbing roses and I’m looking forward to the abundance of blooms which hopefully the much maligned clay soil will produce.