Ornamental Grasses

These Ornamental plants are incredibly easy to look after. Most are almost self sufficient. Once in situ they offer texture, shape, colour and structure.

An example would be Cortaderia selloana (Pampas Grass). In the 1970’s, there was a popular trend in planting Pampas in a small frontage, then to find it 20 years on dominating the entire space. Each year the width increases so the plant should be cut 6 or so inches off the ground. The dead growth pulled out. This invigorates the plant, encourages fresh growth and curbs the size too. These plants are not nice to maintain, the sheaths of foliage are very sharp and must be handled with gloves. Division in the early years will manage the health and size too.

Miscanthus (Maiden Grass) is wonderful as it whistles in the wind and comes in different coloured foliage. M. ‘Zebrinus’ commonly known as Zebra Grass is a stripey variety. They add sound autumn colour and only need cutting back close in Spring encouraging new growth. ‘Graziella’ offers a Pink finish then turning silver. ‘Marlepartus’ provides Purple plumes and Silver in Winter. Most varieties are quite self contained and neat clump forming. Smaller varieties M . sinensis ‘Adagio’, ‘Gnome’ do usually have a smaller clump habit and would be planted in drifts. These both have quite dense foliage.

Hakonechloa Aureola ‘macra’ (Japanese grass) is a bright variegated grass. It has an arched habit, striking colour in its peak. It does provide an autumn brown effect when spent but then it does lose its leaves unlike some grasses. A striking red grass would be Imperata cylindrica (Japanese blood grass) again decidious. In early spring, the dead growth would be cut back to the base, other than this no maintenance. A softer choice would be Stipa tennuissima which is clump forming offering very fine foliage with delicate silver green flowerheads. Little to be done except the removal of dead growth and a “chop” in Spring.

Arthropodium candidum ‘purpureum’ is an unusual addition that offers a contrasting effect to Browns or Greens. The plant has a show of Purple bronzed leaves and forms tiny white flowers as an extra element in midsummer. Carex (Sedge) buchananii (Brown) glauca (Blue/Green), Fescua glauca (Blue) all offer quite vivid colours. These too are effective as contrast plants. Carex dipsacea ‘coppertop’ can provide a bronze/rusty effect with specks of Orange appearing at tips. Similarly, Carex testacea ‘Indian Summer’ has a rusty, Orange glow at its peak. On the darker side, Ophiopogon nigrescens (Black Mondo) once in situ doesn’t need anything more than cutting rough ends off and can be left to their own devices. Drifts of them can be quite dramatic. The plant is quite small and so a large number is necessary for any impact.

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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"?