Prairie Garden at Redhill Lodge, Rutland

A prairie garden at Redhill Lodge in Rutland

Formal garden design elements and wild, breezy planting lend a fresh perspective to a sloping, prairie-style garden that follows the ebb and flow of the rolling Rutland landscape. Words Kendra Wilson, photographs Richard Bloom

Redhill Lodge has sloping, prairie-style planting within a formal context. The Rutland garden measures 70m x 40m out of a five-acre garden and has rich clay with a climate that is sunny, exposed and subject to strong winds. Hardiness zone USDA 9.

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Chris Moss' garden around a 17th century farmhouse in West Sussex
© Eva Nemeth

For plants, a sunny slope is a comfortable dwelling place, with welcome drainage and plenty of light. For people, a garden incline that is steady and continuous can be less pleasing; we require some horizontals, not least for a house. Between the top and bottom of Sue Moffitt’s five acres of prairie-style garden in rural Rutland, there is a difference of eight metres in height. Discover eight of her key plants here.

If ‘low maintenance’ means less thinking as well as less doing, then this area of Sue Moffitt’s garden is a model of its kind, with the tricky question of colour removed entirely. “The rest of the garden has been colour-themed, but up here it doesn’t worry me,” she says. When the structure is there, texture comes to the fore: “If it works in black and white, it works in colour.” Discover the garden below.

Prairie Garden at Redhill Lodge, Rutland
© Richard Bloom

The top corner of this prairie garden in Rutland faces southwest and is sunny but also very windy. Tough perennials, such as Perovskia ‘Blue Spire’, and grasses occupy a formal grid of rectangles and triangles cut out of turf and set around a still, black pool that reflects the open sky.

Prairie Garden at Redhill Lodge, Rutland
© Richard Bloom

A pair of weeping beech mark the entrance to the prairie garden, next to an oak building built to accommodate machinery and a potting shed.

Prairie Garden at Redhill Lodge, Rutland

A turf viewing mound, influenced by the work of landscape designers Charles Jencks and Kim Wilkie, overlooks the scene. Tall beech hedges are cut into waves to complement the shape of the fields beyond, while short, diagonal yew hedges in the rectangular beds add evergreen structure within the parterre.

Prairie Garden at Redhill Lodge, Rutland
Prairie Garden at Redhill Lodge, Rutland
© Richard Bloom
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Sue’s planted grid repeats structural plants to tie the planting together. Vertical tufts of Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’ stand tall later in the season, along with browned seedheads of Veronicastrum virginicum ‘Fascination’ and clouds of purple Perovskia ‘Blue Spire’.

Discover eight key plants for a prairie garden