Ornamental grasses are becoming much more popular nowadays and despite their lack of colour in flower, some make an excellent foil to other plants, whilst others with attractive foliage, are worth growing for this alone. Those varieties mentioned below are only a few of those available from specialist catalogues.

AVENA Candida
A. Candida is a simpler name than Helicto-trichon which is said to be correct. It is a blue-grey evergreen hummocky grass, with narrow foliage up to 18 inches or so. Above this in early summer there are hazy plumes of flowers, but these are best cut off when faded.


C. argentea is the well known, majestic ‘Pampas Grass’, which is best in isolation or against a background of evergreen. It is not safe to plant this until new spring growth begins in April. Even so, division of old plants is risky and losses may occur.

F. ovina glauca will transplant at almost any time and keeps its colour throughout the year. Flowers are of little value, and are best cut off as they fade. At only 6-8 inches high this is a neat grass for edging, or to plant en masse on a bank or anywhere as ground cover. F. ‘Eskia’ is similar in habit but of a rich deep green colour.

HAKONECHLORA macro-alba aurea variegata

H. macro-alba aurea variegata, this unwieldy name stands for one of the most charming dwarf variegated grasses. It is newly introduced from Japan but is quite hardy and has but a modest spread, preferring a good light soil, not too dry. Height is 9-10 inches and leaves die back between November and March, when now growth begins.

L. splendens, has handsome 3-4 feet plumes of creamy buff in June-July on wiry stems. The plant is fairly compact, green leaved, is easy to divide in spring and it is not fussy as to   soil.

All the Miscanthus are. reliable and though all have attractive foliage, M. ‘Silver Fern’ is the only one that flowers freely. In late summer and autumn the plumes rise to 6 feet or so, and make a real focal point in the garden. The leaves, as with the type, M. japonicus, have a whitish midriff, but in M. japonicus zebrinus they are striped or banded horizontally, with alternating yellow and green. ML japonicus variegatus is the finest tall variegated green 1 know, with the fine upstanding habit of the genus, and brightly variegated from April to November. M. japonicus gracillimus is narrow leaved, and as graceful as the name implies. M. sac-chariflorus is a giant, running up to 8 feet with broad, drooping leaves which afford not only a wind-break, but rustling shade as well. All Miscanthus have a slow, but steady spread. They can be left alone for years, but are best planted in spring.

M. caerulea variegata is cnarming in both leaf and flower. It is not evergreen, but foliage is colourful from April to November, whilst during later summer, the flower sprays provide a hazy overtone to the foliage. Spring planting is best and good soil, not dry, is preferred. M. altissima grows reedily to 4 or 5 feet, pretty all summer but in autumn biscuit yellow and very effective.

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