Look locally over the garden gate with Lucie Giselle Ponsford

Screenshot 2022-09-28 at 16.30.44

September’s plant in focus is Grasses...Molinia caerulea, Stipa tenuissima, Calamagrostis brachytricha, Anemanthele lessoniana are poetic in their titles and in their grace in the border. 

I know not all are fond of the fronds of these swordlike perennials. We don’t all need to follow the fashionable at the Chelsea flower show or even the generic in municipal plantings on council borders. Yet even our lawns are under threat with synthetic alternatives that need no water, mowing or re-sowing! But grasses are more than meets the eye. Though I will wax lyrical about how wonderful they are when filtering low sunlight or how in a light breeze they form waves in the wind. They are September’s plant in focus because now as the summer wains and the season creeps steadily on we will see them golden and glow standing where other perennials fall.

So if you are interested in bringing them into your garden I would like to share how to use them and how to maintain them.

They really need to be repeated and in clumps to create impact. They have fabulous companions with Salvia nemorosa and Allium ‘Purple Sensation’. which will light up different seasons and will stand with them the winter long too. As a sward leaved perennial their growth from the basal plate is continuous throughout the season so maintenance with secateurs should be limited to the first spring cut down and then leave them to their devices. Not all grasses are the same. Some are deciduous and some are evergreen and the latter does not respond well to being cut to the base. Stipa tenuissima, for example, is best combed through with a gloved hand (as they are a little sharp ) or a leaf rake as they get clogged up with their seed cases.

All grasses are wind pollinated and amazingly and no doubt in part due to this fact they are on all continents even the polar regions. They are so adaptable they colonize spaces other plant life can’t. With shallow roots and bulletproof durability grasses can survive even though they crisp to a brown, a form of dormancy. We see this with our lawns lying latent waiting for rain or sat in a boggy mire during winter and then when they tap into that sweet spot for growth they are up and off again and away we mow!

I recommend the stalwarts of Calamagrostis × acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’ for upright and compact performance, Stipa tenuissima for a natural flow and breeze reflective rhythm,  for structure and seasonal colour Panicum virgatum ‘Heavy Metal’ and Carex elata ‘Aurea’ for block planting and edging. There is so much to be loved about grasses not least because they are land securing pioneers. So think frondly! of our tufty friends and nurture grasses at home and afield.

For more plant facts and information visit my Facebook page @mimosagardendesign and our community group @ilovemynewgarden

Email: info.mimosadesign@gmail.com  | Call: 07737 286784

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