SU­PER GRASSES

Bring a dif­fer­ent tex­ture to your gar­den with wild and glo­ri­ous or­na­men­tal spec­i­mens

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEW HOMES -

Septem­ber in the gar­den den has a dis­tinct look as s sum­mer gen­tly gives s way to au­tumn. Late au­tumn peren­ni­als dis­play rich colours, such as red and pink dahlias, orange cro­cos­mia, blue salvias and pur­ple pen­ste­mons. It’s also when many or­na­men­tal l grasses are at their peak, bear­ing golden, sil­ver and yel­low flow­ers, bring­ing to mind fields of wheat and nd bar­ley about to be har­vested.

Grasses bring a dif­fer­ent tex­ture to the gar­den and, in­ter­spersed among herba­ceous peren­ni­als, they cre­ate soft struc­tural el­e­ments in the bor­der and through­out the gar­den.

Sin­gle spec­i­mens can be used as fo­cal points on cor­ners or paths.

Mass or drift plant­ing makes a soft state­ment and is a good way to cre­ate a calm ef­fect or deal with large tracts of space.

They work well in a mixed bor­der, a mod­ern plant­ing scheme and in the cot­tage gar­den. They are the sta­ple of ‘prairie-style’ plant­ing which uses read­ily avail­able peren­ni­als and grasses to cre­ate a wild, nat­u­ral­look­ing bor­der.

As with all plant­ing, size and form is ev­ery­thing when it comes to grasses.

They vary in size from the gi­ant Mis­cant­hus sinen­sis ‘Go­liath’ which stands 2.5 me­tres tall, to Deschamp­sia ‘Ta­tra Gold’, a neat lit­tle tuft with flow­er­ing stems that reach about 30cm at most.

In gen­eral, grasses pre­fer a sunny spot, but there is a grass for ev­ery lo­ca­tion, in­clud­ing shade if that’s ap­pro­pri­ate.

Like­wise, there is sa a grass for ev­ery soil – some like it dry, oth­ers pre­fer to have their roots damp. Read the la­bel when b buy­ing, or if you’re not s sure, ask for ad­vice – good g gar­den cen­tres and nurs­eries are full of en­thu­si­as­tic gar­den­ers who are de­lighted to share t their Re­sist knowl­edge tidy­ing up and your ad­vice. gras grasses in au­tumn – many of their seed heads will look good through­out win­ter and you can chop them back in early spring to neaten things up. Here’s a list of some of my favourites that I find both func­tional and beau­ti­ful: Pen­nise­tum ‘Hameln’ – there are a num­ber of va­ri­eties of foun­tain grass now avail­able, but for the British cli­mate, Hameln seems to be the most re­li­able for pro­duc­ing fluffy flow­ers. It prefers a sunny site with well-drained soil and will tol­er­ate drier soils.

Stipa gi­gan­tea – golden oats will reach two me­tres and over if it gets the right con­di­tions. It is one of the most mag­nif­i­cent grasses in full bloom and makes a strik­ing spec­i­men plant in the mid­dle of a large bor­der. It prefers well-drained soil in full sun. Cala­m­a­grostis ‘Karl Fo­er­ster’ and

hR ‘Over­dam’ are two very use­ful grasses – at 1.5 me­tres they have an ex­cel­lent up­right form and de­light­ful blooms of soft seed heads that con­dense to a neater, nar­rower form over the sea­son. They like full sun and moist soil.

Hakonechloa macra – Ja­panese for­est grass is my favourite. I love its Mis­cant­hus sinen­sis (Ja­panese sil­ver­grass) grace­ful green fo­liage and round mound shape. It per­forms in sun or par­tial shade so long as soil isn’t too dry.

Cor­tade­ria richardii is a rel­a­tive of the pam­pas grass and, like its

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