Did you watch Gardeners’ World last week? I loved the feature on grasses. Carol Klein visited Neil Lucas an expert in grasses, at Knoll Gardens, Wimborne, Dorset.
20 years ago, Neil Lucas got hooked on them and now has an enviable collection; his expertise on the subject is unrivalled.
During the last 20 years, grasses have come to the forefront of our thoughts of design through our gardens. They bring sparkle, sound and movement and extend the season right through the year.
With over 10,000 species of grass available, there are certainly plenty from which to choose!
Japanese hakonechloa does very well in the shade and is especially good for planting around tree roots as it copes very well with virtually no nutrients and a poor soil. Beautiful bright green foliage forming gradually spreading mounds with masses of tiny flowers in late summer.
Because of its lack of demands, it would also make a perfect plant for containers.
Pennisetum macrourum or African Feather Grass is a lovely grass that has established in the UK and now does very well here. It is a robust green foliage enhanced by tall erect pinky-beige spikelets in late summer to autumn, gracefully moving in the slightest of breezes.
Miscanthus sinensis ‘Malepartus’ is a tall and impressive grass, standing over 2 metres tall with narrow arching foliage and large upright purple-red flower plumes in late summer. The foliage turns bronze in autumn and the flowerheads fade to silver, giving a long season of interest.
Miscanthus is brilliant in winter as it has solid stems that wave in the wind. It can then be cut down in March or even into the first week of April.
Miscanthus Ferner Osten is a shorter, compact variety that will thrive in any type of soil once it is established. These ornamental grasses are Deciduous so cut back stems close to ground level from late February through to the end of March. Cut stems can be left on border as natural mulch or composted.
Miscanthus Roland is one of the tallest cultivars with beautiful pink tinted inflorescences from mid summer, that look as though they have been crimped.
There are so many varieties to choose from that do well in the UK and it would just be impossible to list them all. One of the qualities that Gardeners like about grasses is their ability to move around in the wind. It’s one of their prime qualities as that is how they pollinate – very clever!
So go out now and see some of the grasses as they are showing at their best, and get inspiration for your own garden.