Friday 11th October 2019

After successful forays into other people’s gardens last week, this Friday we returned to home territory.


And the Plant Ident. was all about grasses, many of which are looking spectacular now.  There are several good books on the topic, including Designing with Grasses by Neil Lucas and Grasses, Ferns, Mosses and Lichens by Roger Phillips.

It’s helpful, at this point, to remember the old adage:-

Rushes are Round, Sedges have Edges and Grasses are Glorious!

They do make a lovely display, both inside and out.


We’re talking verticality, impact, structure, shimmer, long periods of interest, movement,  inflorescence and seedheads.

Cortaderia selloana ‘Pumila’


The dwarf form of the ubiquitous Pampas Grass; a robust perennial, evergreen grass in the Poaceae family.  A bit sad when grown as a solitary specimen, perhaps, but magnificent when planted in bulk to catch the sun as part of a planned border.  Then its great white plumes of feathery beauty, held on erect stems, form an eye-catching feature from summer through autumn.  Lovely when planted with other grasses; has also been seen grown very effectively in large black pots.  Hardy and wind resistant.  Cut to the ground in spring.  Good for cut flower arrangements.  (h 1.5 m x w 1.0 m)

Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’


A terrific deciduous grass (dies back in the winter).  Very useful, as it tolerates partial shade as well as full sun, and can therefore light up darker areas of the garden.  Fairly low growing, (to about 30 cms), its slender leaves are striped yellow and green.  Likes well-drained but moist soil.  Good as edging and in pots.  Add well-rotted compost to the soil when planting and as a mulch in early spring.

Miscanthus sinensis ‘Rosi’


A very architectural, late-flowering plant – in fact the Miscanthus Genus can flower well into the winter.  Has upright silvery-pink flowers.  Clump forming, deciduous and very desirable. Grows best in full sun in most well-drained but moist soils; cut back to about 15 cms in February.  (h 2.0 – 2.5 m)

Miscanthus sinensis ‘Punktchen’ is also highly recommended; its bright green leaves are marked with golden-yellow horizontal bands (h. 1.2 m)


Panicum virgatum ‘Warrior’


Switch Grasses are true North American prairie plants.  They look great en masse, providing interest, height and movement from late summer right through to winter.  After rain, droplets cling to the flowerheads and they glitter! ‘Warrior’ has very slim stems which hold delicate sprays of tiny purple flowers.  Other good varieties include ‘Shenandoah’ and ‘Heavy Metal’.  Deciduous.  (h. 1.2 m x w. 1.0 m)

Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Hameln’


Chinese Fountain Grass. Hardy.  Likes full sun / partial shade.  This one needs moisture to get established and seems to particularly like clay soil!  A clump-forming perennial which produces arching spikes of creamy-white/purple – brown flowers looking like furry caterpillars!  Evergreen, but cut down in late February for fresh new growth.        (h. 0.6 m).  Pennisetum orientale is a variety that will grow on chalky soils.

Stipa tenuissima ‘Pony Tails’


Mexican Feather Grass is easy to grow from seed and will then go on to self seed around the garden.  Especially good for winter interest as the flower heads waft about in the breeze, providing movement.  Treat them as you would a pony’s mane – groom them!  Comb through to remove old and dead stems (in late summer), then sit back and watch them perform.  Maybe wear a cowboy hat.  Grows to about 0.6m tall.  (Bridge actually prefers Stipa tenuissima ‘Wind Whispers’, which is slightly taller and more graceful.  The ‘Pony Tails’ beg to differ.)

Jobs for the week:

The Compost Heap

It’s wet.  It’s unpleasant.  But there’s work to be done on the compost heap.

Guess who’s up for the challenge?


Guess who isn’t.

It’s fine if you dodge the raindrops


Getting properly stuck in.


Black gold, that is.

Winners of the Bridge Saunders Prize for commitment


and a welcome break for both


Organise and label the bulbs ready for planting

All 1.3 million of them.


Think we’ve found some

But we’ll need another few dozen trugs, that’s for sure.  There are Aconites, Crocuses, Irises, Muscari, Narcissi, Tulips, more Tulips, Hyacinths, species Tulips, Alliums, more Tulips……


This could take some time

Sow sweet pea seeds


First fill the root trainers with compost


Push a couple of seeds in

Label and water lightly

Then into the greenhouse with them –


and wait for the magic to begin

Pot on plants.  Place in the cold frame. 


Don’t worry – the plants, not you!

Take cuttings of tender perennials

These need to be placed on warmth to encourage rooting


Hang on – what’s that dark furry thing in the background?

Aniseed!  Testing out the heated matting?


20191011_123432 (1).jpg

 I do this every year.  Quality control.

Prick out seedlings


Centaurea and Agrostemma will both feature in the garden next year


Beautifully centred and labelled

Mark out salad beds in greenhouse border

Fork over and rake border.  Use canes to divide up the beds.


Sow seeds and plant salads of: Mizuna, Rocket, Swiss Chard.  Label!

Work in the Pelargonium Palace

It’s a plastic-free zone, so plants need to be potted into clay pots


What a lotta terracotta



A quick stop to admire this little beauty



Sow seeds of Physalis, Scabious, Nigella papillosa ‘African Bride’, Papaver rhoeas…and more


Note that the tiniest seeds benefit from a light covering of vermiculite.  The pots are having a paddle to soak up some water

Let’s just see how things are doing in the greenhouse before we go…

All present and correct

Somebody’s still looking very cosy


Good camouflage, Aniseed!


Until next week



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