What would be the best hardy plants for a woody garden. There are 4 trees in the immediate area with many more in surrounding area, the soil is clay based and it is part sun. I want to create a tapestry effect with clay, loam type soils to surround small floating style deck. Currently have gallium, sweet woodruff, periwinkle, and several different types of short and tall grasses. I want to creat a hybrid carpet effect with ground cover, plants should take off speedily would be preferable. I also have some lilac bushes, clematis, vines, hellebores and Russian sage. The climate is zone 4-6, area is sloped so needs erosion control and beautiful carpet for childrens’ play.
You seem to be looking for an attractive lawn alternative or groundcover that will work on a slope to help stem erosion, look good with all of your trees, shrubs and plants and provide a base for children to play on. Toronto Master Gardeners in partnership with the City of Toronto have put together a Garden Guide that should be helpful to you on Lawn Alternatives and Organic Care of Groundcovers.
In that Guide, you’ll find the following groundcovers recommended for shade or part shade:
For dry shade – barrenwort (Epimedium), geranium (Geranium macrorrhizum), Japanese spurge (Pachysandra), Spotted bellflower (Campanula punctata)
For damp, semi-shade to shade – bugleweed (Ajuga), dead nettle (Lamium), lily-of the-valley (Convullaria), lungwort (Pulmonaria)
And the Toronto Master Gardener Guide on Broadleaf Evergreen Groundcovers provides even more information.
I think that both Guides will help you choose the plants you want and help you to care for them.