Molinia (Purple Moor Grass)
Miscanthus sinensis 'Positano'
Stipa tennuissima with Crocosmia
Growing Ornamental Grasses
Ornamental grasses look great both summer and winter and have so much going for them. Easy to maintain, many are as tough as old boots and yet graceful, elegant and they create movement in the border. On a summer's day, with the light behind them, grasses shimmer and dance and in the winter they sparkle. Grasses make me as lyrical as I can be about any garden plant . Grasses look good grouped together but are also ideal planting companions. If you are not growing grasses now, I hope this page and the images here and Pinterest will inspire you to do so. The Pinterest pages have lots of images of different types of grasses, too many to fit on this web page.
Above left is Stipa gigantea ( Golden Oats) in the winter its fronds are frosted and graceful. Grasses do look spectacular in the winter for which reason it is best not to cut them down until February so that they can be seen at their best in the frost.
The centre images shows how tough some grasses are. This is Deschampsia cespitosa, common name tufted hair which I forgot about and kept in an old bucket for several months forgetting to plant it out. It both survived and grew in the bucket, and I chopped it in half and planted it out; it looks great and none the worst for serial neglect.
Deschampsia will grow in sun and partial shade, it is easy to grow and produces a mound of shimmering flowers by mid summer.As a border plant, ornamental grasses mixed in with perennials grasses look especially good with Achillea, Allium and Crocosmia as illustrated above right .
Easy to grow Grasses
Amongst the easiest of grasses to grow, providing great light and movement are Stipa Tenuissima, Stipa Gigantea, Deschampsia, and Phalaris arundinacea, Miscanthus sinensis Zebrinus and Molinia caerulea. They are all easy to grow.
The first image is Stipa Tenuissima, a fabulous looking grass with many very fluffy flower heads. Fully hardy and fast growing up to .6m it needs nothing more than a trim back in the spring . It likes a sunny well drained spot. Stipa illustrated top left in its winter form (Goldon Oates) will grow best in moderately fertile soil with good light and plenty of sun. Gigantea as the name suggests is large up to 2.5m with large Oat like flower heads and is semi evergreen remove dead leaves in spring. Whilst these are the ideal conditions I have a self seeded Gigantea which is growing in a boggy area next to the stream so they are tough. Both are *** hardy.
Molinia (Purple Moor Grass) image second left is trouble-free grass will grow in most places prefers soil on moist side will grow in partial shade and fully hardy.
Miscanthus sinensis zebrinus has become a very popular, almost fashionable, garden grass admired for its striped leaves and plumes in summer not dissimilar to the now relegated Pampas grass. Illustrated 3rd left is the more attractive Miscanthus sinensis 'Positano' image 4th left and it has the most attractive light purple flower heads. Fully hardy plant in a sunny spot and all it needs is a trim in the spring.
The images on the left wispy Stipa tennuissima with Allium and Achillea and a Stipa growing alongside a path. The last image is Miscanthus nepalensis, deliberately planted here close together to make a lovely feathery entrance to a path.
Plant Combinations with Grasses
The image top right shows Stipa with Allium and Alliums do look good with all grasses so you can pick your favourites. Mix a dozen or so Alliums with your favourite grasses and this bit of the border will look after itself. An added benefit is that the Alliums are loved by bees. In the top right image this is the summer flowering Allium sphaerocephalon(not the spring varieties) to create the planting scheme.
The image above left shows Stipa with Crocosmia and Achillea, both summer flowering perennials which make an ideal planting combination for later in summer.
I have included, for it's sheer style, a Carex which is not technically a grass but it makes a great lime green bright plant image below centre.
Grasses can look just as good in the winter check this link for images of winter grasses.
An impressive garden in which to see grasses in late summer and Spring is the Hillier garden in Romsey Hampshire. It is well worth a visit in Autumn to see the magnificent trees in their Autumn colour, an extensive range of grasses and the long herbaceous borders. Some of the images on this page were taken there and see also on Pinterest.