Garden grasses

We don’t grow a lot of grasses in the Genus garden but those we have play an important role, acting as a foil for the Dahlias, Rudbeckias, and perennial sunflowers that surround them.

We have two varieties of Miscanthus - their variety names lost in the mists of time - that occupy the corner of a border, squashed between a dry stone wall and a large stump of a long departed conifer.  Perfectly placed to catch the late afternoon sun they offer us some late structure as the surrounding perennials slowly collapse into a sodden, frost-wilted, heap.  It’s good practise to leave grasses overwinter and not remove their stems or foliage until spring as it offers the crown a degree of frost protection and we find in most winters they turn out to be the perfect home for wildlife.  Many times we’ve found a ball of dry leaves in the base of the clump where our resident hedgehog has decided to prepare its winter quarters.  We cut the clump down in April which suits the grass well as it is already showing new shoots and it also suits Mrs Tiggywinkle who has already vacated as she makes night-time forays into the garden and meadow to replace the body weight she has lost over the winter months. 

Another grass we have is Hakonechloa macra.  A beautiful knee high grass with wonderful billowing foliage that is great for edging beds, its foliage arches out gently over paths creating a softening of any hard edges.  Known as Japanese Forest Grass it comes in green and variegated forms.  In many ways it is the perfect low maintenance plant.  We really should grow more!