Grasses

These are really low maintenance plants and can achieve a strong mediterranean effect . The Ornamental Grasses- good for coastal spots and windy locations that suffer drought like conditions. Usually most will survive in mixed conditions although usually must be well drained, they can tolerate semi fertile soil without additional food. This includes most soil types whether Chalky, Sandy or Loamy. The conditions are usually a full sun/partial shade aspect/free draining soil. They can add an archeitectural element to the garden without much effort. There is very little to do them bar a handful.

Pampas Grass can often need some attention because usually people wait until its too late and you have a front garden with 1 Pampas Grass dominating the entire green space. A yearly crop to the base 6 inches and it will regenerate better than you think coupled with helping maintain its size and shape. Dividing will help and you will have more plants equally , bear in mind that cutting back dead growth will encourage next years so do take it to the base. Either when spent before dormant season or just as it is warming up (Spring). They are quite resilient so don’t be too alarmed at the bald lump that is left after giving it a good cut. Very rarely does it fail to replenish, it controls it too.

Bamboo is not associated just with towering specimens that dominate the designated spot. There are dwarf and standard varieties. Pleioblastus variegatus can provide the same bamboo foliage on a smaller scale. Some are suited to shade, some full sun and others exposed areas but again the salient point being not too wet and free draining. They are fit for purpose whether in a pot as a wind break, clump forming or in a running course. Varieites suited for potting as Shibataea Kumasca, Fargesia nitida better placed for hedging and a running course and Chusuea culeou/Phyllostachys nigra for your wind breaker/screening

Carex buchananii (Brown) Glauca (Blue/Green) Sedge, Fescua Glauca (Blue) can all be used as an effective contrast plant. Stipa tenufolia (Pheasant Grass), Ophiopogon nigrescens (Black Mondo) once in situ doesn’t need anything more than cutting rough ends and can be left to their own devices.Drifts of them can be quite dramatic. Miscanthus – which whistles in the wind (nice attribute) sinensis – many different varieties including some variegated leaved forms. They usually add good autumn interest and need cutting back to the base to encourage new growth. ‘Graziella’ Pink and then silver. ‘Marlepartus’ Purple plumes and the silver in Winter. Most varieties are quite self contained and neat clump forming. Smaller varieties M . sinensis ‘Adagio’, ‘Gnome’ do not usually have a clump habit and would be planted in drifts. These both are smaller but have quite dense foliage.

The range doesn’t stop at shades of Brown and Green. There are varieties as Arthropodium candidum ‘purpureum’ Rock lily that has a show of Purple bronzed leaves and forms tiny white flowers as an extra element. Carex dipsacea ‘coppertop can provide a vibrant a bronze effect with specks of orange appearing at tips. In addition, Carex testacea ‘Indian Summer’ can provides a rusty, orange glow at its peak.

A contrast example might be the variegated leaved varieties which Carex shares one Carex brunnea ‘variegata’ of but also Bromus inermis ‘Skinners Gold’ or Acorus gramineus are possibilities for a green/yellow effect. . There are specimens suited to being potted Arundo donax ‘Golden Chain’ and ‘versicolour’ is another but sometimes check for hardiness as with some they require extra protection in the chillier months. Arundo donax can reach a mammoth size there is a type that falls short of Bamboo that being the above. This reed like structure towers above most and is hollow inside. Nonetheless, it shows why they are such attractive and versatile plants which can be used for a variety, adapt to diverse conditions, need little or no attention and achieve quite startling effects.

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I'm Craft Gardener with several years experience. Due to the massive impact the internet has had on advice, forums and consultancy services - it seems knowledge and experience is everchanging and we should therefore share techniques and offer others alternative routes in pests, diseases and weed treatments. The very smallest alterations in aspect, soil conditioning and pruning can determine a plants vigour, health and lifespan hugely. My blogs and online assistance should motivate and interest even the most amateur of green fingered people. As my ex partner used to say "it's green isn't it"?