Favourite Grasses

I am relatively new to the world of grasses, having just allowed various grasses to self-seed around the garden over the past few years. Some I believe to be Yorkshire mist and purple moor grass, but cannot be sure and that’s only my assumption.

The benefits of allowing native grasses to seed and grow naturally is that native grasses are actually the larval foodplant of many British Butterflies and Moths. The big flutters such as Peacocks, Comma, Small Tortoiseshells and Red Admirals all use Nettles; however pretty much all the rest use grasses and are often found around grass, meadows and wasteland. If you have the space, please allow some areas of grass to grow long for this very reason. If I had the space I would happily leave a large area to grow wild. However my lawn just isn’t large enough but I do try to allow some ‘unsightly’ corners such as near the shed to grow long and only chop them back occasionally.

In 2011 I have added a number of new grasses after the failure of Pheasant’s tail grass and Pheasant’s grass which I didn’t realise were half hardy and of course the awful snow in 2010 killed off one Pheasant’s tail grass, the second survived but only barely and I am now considering getting rid of it too. My Carex were all crushed by the snow too and because Carex is a sedge, the blades were bent and never bounced back. For this reason I decided to stick to grasses which will often bounce back.

Most grasses added have been Stipa, however there have also been some Pennisetum ‘Hameln’, Imperata cylindrical ‘Rubra’ and Panicum virgatum ‘Rehbraun’.

Some Imperata cylindrical ‘Rubra’.

And some Panicum virgatum ‘Rehbraun’

I am really looking forward to them maturing and having nice swathes of grasses blowing around. At the moment they’re all rather small and immature.
Here some of them are in a temporary site; I planted them all here with autumn looming and knowing they needed to have the protection and warmth of the soil. It also meant that they could develop a nice healthy root system before the cold of winter arrives. I had planned to move them all but they do look quite nice together and certainly have a lot of promise!

One feature will definitely be the addition of Stipa Gigantea. It will be an imposing specimen and hopefully add a nice point of interest in an otherwise boring area.

2 thoughts on “Favourite Grasses

    • Hi Paula,

      I haven’t tried any grasses in mostly shade yet. However I can say that a Stipa I have in the front garden is doing very well, it only gets direct sunlight in mid-afternoon during the summer… Our front is north-est facing so for a lot of the time it’s in shade… But it’s still light, if you get me? ie the shade cast by the houses but isn’t deep shade like being under a tree.

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