Grasses and Bamboos
July 13, 2021

This is a group of plants that can make a dramatic change to the look of a garden. Most are about the same price as any other plant you might buy and in our own experience, never get greenfly or any other pest that we know of. 

You don’t have to be an expert to grow them and are not in the least fiddly. So if you have never considered ornamental grass, here are some that we have grown ourselves and might tempt you to try one.
The first three are quite short and can be tricky to place in a border as they need room to flow as they grow, so to look their best, we have them in pots. Some tidying up may be needed now and then but otherwise, leave them alone.  

Carex testacea Olive Carex
Very graceful and looks elegant in a pot.  Olive as a colour is difficult to describe but it works for this one.

Carex buchananii Bronze Carex
We have had a group in pots on the patio for several years and they still look fine.

Festuca glauca Blue Fescue
As far as we know, no other garden plant has such blue colouring. It tends to become untidy so a good comb through will improve the overall appearance.
The next five are much taller to very tall, are fine in a border and we cut them down to the ground every autumn.

Miscanthus Sinensis “zebrinus”
Zebra Grass. This is amazing when you see it for the first time with the stripes running across the leaves. Works well in the border next to almost anything.

Miscanthus sacchariflorus
We call this elephant grass.
At its full height of seven to eight feet, this looks like bamboo, costs nowhere near as much, can hide an elephant and whilst it will spread will not run out of control. It is an absolute cracker. 

Miscanthus Sinensis “variegatus” Japanese silver grass
Very statuesque and can easily make four or five feet sometimes more. We think this is very posh grass and is often used by professional garden designers. 

Calamagrostis “karl foerster”
A beautiful tall slender looking plant made even better looking when it comes into flower. We have ours right in the middle of a long border.

Stipa gigantea giant oat grass
The crowning glory of this grass is the mass of long spreading flower spikes which are held high above the crown of leaves. It will need some space but is well worth it.
In a previous garden, we grew quite a few bamboos and learnt a lot about them. They are some of the most statuesque plants you can buy. In our present garden, we only grow them in pots because they tend to run. 

Phyllostachys nigra black bamboo
And whilst it might take a year or so, the stems do turn black. Despite the price, this is one of the most imposing plants you can buy. It will easily grow to ten feet and more in one year. This is the only bamboo we grow and we have several in large pots. It is magnificent. Very expensive if you want a decent specimen.

Phyllostachys aurea golden bamboo
Very closely related to the above and is more or less a yellow stemmed version. Nonetheless if black is not a colour for you this will do the same job and unfortunately will cost about the same. 

All of these plants should be available in any good garden centre.