AUTUMN’S FEATHERY JEWELS
Miscanthus are one the jewels of the autumn garden, with feathery flower plumes topping their often colourful foliage from late summer into winter. There are a good range of sizes and varieties available, both old and new, with cultivars to suit most gardens.
One of the most graceful is Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’. Its fine textured foliage has a thin white margin borne on 180cm stems which form a vase shape, swaying in the lightest breeze. Its crimson-red flowers are produced in late summer, turning a silvery white as they mature, providing good autumn and winter interest. An exceptional new variety is M.s.‘Navajo’ released a few years ago. Its arching stems reach around 120cm, sporting foliage which starts to colour early in the year becoming a dark bronzyred by late summer when it produces its silver-pink flowers which turn a silvery-tan in winter.
Another excellent smaller variety is M.s.’Red Cloud’ growing to only around 100cm and slowspreading. It’s a good choice for a container or smaller garden; its mid-green leaves are quite narrow with a silver-white mid rib and by midsummer it produces rich burgundy weeping flowers which turn silver as they age.
Miscanthus grow best in full sun but will tolerate some shade but if it’s too much they will get spindly and flop. They are tolerant of many soil types but prefer moderately fertile moist but well-drained conditions, disliking winter wet. Cut back last year’s stems in early spring to around 15cm before the new growth starts.