I was never a big fan of grasses in borders until I identified every planting scheme that I liked, had a grass in it. I began to look at them in a different way and realised that there was a huge selection to choose from. From airy willowy dry grasses, to evergreen more robust varieties. Grasses offer something that no other plant can, they can provide calm, compliment and enhance more colourful flowers or simply be the sole focus of design. There are grasses to suit every type of environment from shade to sun, dry to wet. There are evergreen varieties semi-evergreen varieties, as well as ones that perform well in containers and difficult environmental locations. Add texture and opposition to any planting scheme. Add a grass next to a box ball and you have an instant POW! Grasses also add movement and energy to the space, they can add translucency and semi-screen an area beyond. Some of my favourite all time showstoppers are:-
Cortaderia selloana ‘Pumila’ AGM: Pampas grasses have been much maligned, but this smaller cultivar is elegant and mixes well with other perennials and shrubs. Height: 1.5m (5ft)
Festuca glauca ‘Elijah Blue’: One of the bluest of fescues, ‘Elijah Blue’ forms a spiky dome. Trim back every few years in March to get rid of dead leaves. Height: 40cm (16in)
Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’ AGM: A compact cultivar with slim cream margins to its leaves, this miscanthus is ideal for small gardens and even containers. Height: 1.5m (5ft)
Pennisetum villosum AGM: The fluffy rabbits-tail-like seedheads of this grass are an instant attraction. Not the hardiest: needs sun and free drainage for the best results. Height: 60cm (2ft)
Stipa tenuissima: The fine blades of this grass dance even in light winds. Cut back in spring for fresh green growth, which ages to soft gold by late summer. Height: 60cm (2ft)
Deschampsia cespitosa ‘Goldtau’ (syn. ‘Golden Dew’): Compact and graceful, this grass has spikes of airy, reddish-brown flowers. Tolerant of shade and damp conditions, it is can be grown in gardens unsuited to many other ornamental grasses. Height: 75cm (30in)
For me now, most of my planting schemes contain some sort of grass somewhere in the garden.