From dainty blue fescue grass to majestic miscanthus, ornamental grass provides texture, character and form unmatched by many other hardy perennials. Their presence develops through the seasons as bright and colourful foliage is joined by graceful swaying flower heads that last well into winter.
In large borders grasses can be planted in bold groups or striking drifts, but many varieties perform well in large patio pots, positioned where their individual shape and arching form can be fully appreciated. Popular grasses for pots include compact Blue Fescue Grass and Slender Sweet Flag ‘Ogon’, or taller varieties of Miscanthus such as the Zebra Grass (Miscanthus ‘Zebrinus’).
From green to gold, purple to a host of patterned and variegated forms, ornamental grass comes in a wide range of colours, sizes and growing habits. As well as selecting grasses to suit your colour scheme always consider their other qualities, positioning grasses close to paths and seating areas so you can run your hands over their feathery foliage and flowers as you pass. Popular grasses for tactile displays in sensory gardens include the Feathertop Grass (Pennisetum) or annual grasses like Bunny Tails.
Taller grasses also add movement to otherwise static displays, catching a summer breeze to add interest and catch the eye. Growing to around two metres in height, the bold form of Golden Oats (Stipa gigantea) is a real showstopper! Or if space allows, try planting a statuesque clump of Pampas Grass, and enjoy their feathery plumes right into winter.
Top four ornamental grasses
Many great grasses are available that have received an Award of Garden Merit (AGM) from the Royal Horticultural Society. Here are some of the most popular:
Festuca – such as Blue Fescue Grass (Festuca glauca ‘Elijah Blue’)
Pennisetum – such as Fountain Grass (Pennisetum setaceum ‘Summer Samba’)
Miscanthus – such as Zebra Grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Zebrinus’)
Stipa – such as Giant Golden Oats (Stipa gigantea)