Watch­ing the grasses grow

Ormskirk Advertiser - - Your Garden -

DUR­ING late sum­mer, the con­tem­po­rary gar­den takes on dif­fer­ent tex­tures and colours as a new pal­ette of plants ma­tures. It’s peak time for many of the or­na­men­tal grasses that have started flow­er­ing and will con­tinue to do so un­til au­tumn.

Some grasses, such as Mis­cant­hus, will look su­perb right through win­ter, stand­ing tall with flow­er­heads that re­main in­tact, al­beit fad­ing to sil­ver. I don’t cut these back un­til around March or April as they are still pro­vid­ing good in­ter­est be­fore the spring peren­ni­als re­ally take off.

In larger scale land­scap­ing, they can look won­der­ful planted en masse, but in the smaller gar­den, that ap­proach doesn’t al­ways work so well.

I think they’re of­ten best planted in com­bi­na­tion, ei­ther with colour­ful peren­ni­als or ev­er­green plant­ings so that some struc­tural in­ter­est re­mains once the more del­i­cate grasses col­lapse at the end of the sea­son.

Grasses are rel­a­tively low­main­te­nance, though if you have a lot of them, the an­nual cut­ting back can be quite a job.

Us­ing ev­er­green va­ri­eties such as Carex mor­rowii will lessen the work. These can get a lit­tle scruffy, so ben­e­fit from a cut back ev­ery few years to al­low for fresh clean growth.

There’s great ver­sa­til­ity to be found with this type of plant­ing, with va­ri­eties suit­able for both sun and shade po­si­tions, and damp or dry con­di­tions. Taller colum­nar types make good fo­cal points or upright ac­cents in a bor­der, while the foun­tain-shape types look re­ally well in pots.

Here are some ideas of how to com­bine them with other plants:

Stipa gi­gan­tea is the grace­ful gi­ant of the grass world, achiev­ing heights of over 2.5 me­tres, but be­cause the stems are so see-through and the foun­tain of golden oat-like flow­ers is light and airy, it never over­pow­ers. Gor­geous paired with Ver­bena bonar­ien­sis, which has lit­tle balls of mauve flow­ers which seem to float atop leggy stems, as well as San­guisorba with its bot­tle­brush flow­ers on tall stems.

Pen­nise­tum, Chi­nese foun­tain grass, has fluffy bot­tle­brush flow­ers which tempt you to ca­ress them. ‘Kar­ley Rose’ has lovely rose pur­ple flower spikes and I’ve planted them be­side buxus balls to loosen the plant­ing scheme.

For smaller gar­dens, ‘Lit­tle Bunny’ is more com­pact and would as­so­ciate well with late-flow­er­ing peren­ni­als

Fox­tail foun­tain grass (Pen­nise­tum alopecuroi­des) such as Michael­mas daisies (Aster) and cheer­ful Rud­beckia ‘Gold­sturm.’

Stipa tenuis­sima, Mex­i­can feather grass, is a cute lit­tle grass with a fluffy blonde pony­tail which works well in many herba­ceous plant­ing schemes. It loves the sun and is won­der­ful for in­tro­duc­ing a light feath­ery ef­fect and link­ing dif­fer­ent groups of plants. I think it’s re­ally pretty paired with some pink cos­mos.

Im­per­ata cylin­drica is the Ja­panese blood grass, which has flat lime-green leaves that turn blood red from the tips to­wards the bases to make a dra­matic dis­play.

Its fiery ap­pear­ance pairs well with those late-sum­mer, bold-coloured peren­ni­als such as false sun­flower, He­liop­sis, rich red and or­ange he­le­ni­ums, and cro­cos­mia. Grow in full sun or par­tial shade, but keep them moist for op­ti­mal ap­pear­ance.

Hakonechlo­a is the Ja­panese for­est grass and per­haps my favourite – the sur­prise ev­ery au­tumn is the beau­ti­ful or­ange tints that ap­pear.

It has a beau­ti­ful dome shape and at the mo­ment I’m pair­ing it with Hy­drangea ‘Annabelle’ for a cool white and green el­e­gant plant­ing scheme.

Hakonechlo­a macra Aure­ola or­na­men­tal grasses planted un­der­neath a de­cid­u­ous tree

Mis­cant­hus is great for the gar­den and the en­vi­ron­ment be­cause it ab­sorbs more car­bon than it re­leases

Pen­nise­tum ori­en­tale seed­heads, above, and Im­per­ata Rubra cylin­drica Red Baron grass, be­low

YOU can in­crease your stock of bor­der car­na­tions by lay­er­ing – choose a healthy side shoot that isn’t flow­er­ing, bend it over with­out snap­ping the stem and peg firmly into the ground with some wire. Cover the stem with soil and wa­ter in. DI­VIDE over­crowded

bearded irises to im­prove their vigour for next year. CYCLAMEN corms that you have been stor­ing can be started into growth in the green­house. HAV­ING trou­ble with ear­wigs on your dahlias? Make traps, right, with pots stuffed with shred­ded pa­per or straw, and re­move ear­wigs daily. PRUNE climb­ing and ram­bling roses if they have fin­ished flow­er­ing. CONIFER and ev­er­green hedges can have a fi­nal trim be­fore au­tumn slows their growth.

Beau­ti­ful Stipa gi­gan­tea – known as golden oats

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.