Friday 30th June

After much discussion around our upcoming Charity Open Day, we had a very good plant ident which this week was presented to us by Lynda.  We looked mainly at grasses, which she finds very useful in her windy coastal garden. She finds they need comparatively little maintenance, look good with perennial plantings and provide a very long period of interest. 

Stipa arundinacea – now renamed as Anemanthele lessoniana.


This is also known as Pheasant’s Tail grass.  Providing year-round colour, movement and structure, it is a fountain-like clump of slender evergreen foliage which emerges green but develops red, orange and yellow streaking, especially noticeable in the winter.  It grows very quickly to 1m x 1m and produces airy flower-heads in late summer.  It needs dividing after 2-3 years.  

Calamagrostis acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’


This deciduous grass will grow well in full sun or partial shade. It has a stiff, erect habit adding height and definition to borders.  It requires low maintenance and is one of the earliest perennial grasses to appear.  It has wheat-coloured stems with bronze panicles which add drama and presence to the winter garden. Cut to the ground in February, it can then reach up to 1.8m x 0.6 m.

Panicum virgatum ‘Heavy Metal or switch grass ‘Heavy Metal’ 


This deciduous ornamental fountain-like grass is known for its steely blue-grey/purple leaves which form stiff, upright clumps turning yellow in autumn.  In late summer and early autumn its pink flowering heads add airy elegance.  Grown in full sun, it will reach around 1.5 x 0.75 m.

Stipa tenuissima.  


This is a versatile deciduous grass which grows to 0.6m x 0.3m.  It forms a compact, upright tuft of thread-like leaves with narrow, arching feathery-flowering panicles in summer. It is ideal for a gravel garden, large container or perennial border where its fluffy flower heads and foliage billow in the breeze.  It enjoys full sun in most soils.  Lynda likes it planted between lavenders.

Carex ‘Ice Dance’


This is not a grass but a sedge.  An evergreen, it forms a low, slow-spreading tufted mound.  The green glossy leaves are edged with white and small inconspicuous brown flower spikes appear in late spring. It is very tough and a spreader, growing to 0.1-0.5m x 0.1-0.5 m.  It can be grown in all sorts of conditions, soils and aspects including under trees.

Jobs this week

  • Dead-heading roses and then tying in and watering.  Those which will provide good hips in the autumn were left alone.  Special attention was given to Rosa ‘Dorothy Perkins’, R. ‘Chevy Chase’ and Rosa glauca.
  • Potting on chillies and tomatoes in the greenhouse into 1 litre pots.  They were then staked, fed with chicken manure and watered. Nicotiana langsdorffii also needed potting on and were then left outside the greenhouse to acclimatise.
  • Tying in the crab apples and step-over apples.  The raspberries outside the greenhouse also needed attention.
  • Clearing the peas and beans from the veg patch.  Cavalo nero, kale and lettuces were planted in their place.
  • Tidying-up and weeding the large herbaceous border behind the hedge.  Plants were staked where required.
  • Tidying and watering everything in the greenhouse.  The Alpine beds were also tidied up and cuttings were taken where possible.
  • Sorting out the Auricula theatre and planting up small Fuchsias on Little Dixter.
  • Tidying up the Acanthus bed under the tree and removing all the snails!

Unfortunately, rain stopped play and members retired for an early bath…


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