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Growing ornamental grasses in the garden adds elegance and charm with their movement. Although, they aren’t just great for foliage, but the spires of feathery flowers that bloom are sure to add something special to your garden space too. So, choose from deciduous or evergreen types that will complement the rest of your planting scheme. Here are some of my top picks for ornamental grasses in your garden:

1. Carex elata (Bowles’ golden sedge) ‘Aurea’

An evergreen grass with bright yellow upright, arching foliage for a boost of year round cheerful colour.

In summer, small black flowers bloom on stems that are around 45cm tall.

  • Evergreen with flowers in summer
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows up to 1m tall
  • Poorly-drained soil
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Exposed or sheltered
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2. Cortaderia selloana (pampas grass)

The tall plumes of pampas grass are unmistakable.Growing up to 4m, these are a popular pick in front and back gardens where the evergreen foliage is joined by plumes of silver-white spikelets that have hints of pink through summer and autumn.

The foliage is sharply toothed, so wear gloves when handling and combing out leaves.

  • Evergreen with flowers in summer
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows up to 4m tall
  • Moist but well-drained soil or well-drained soil
  • Full sun
  • Exposed or sheltered
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3. Festuca glauca (blue fescue) ‘Blaufuchs’

Low growing ‘Blaufuchs’ reaches 20cm tall, but they’ll still make an impact with their brilliant blue foliage. Well suited to rock or gravel gardens, they will also happily grow in a container where the blue foliage will contrast beautifully with other potted plants.

Then, in winter, remove the dead foliage and in spring you can welcome new blue growth.

  • Blue foliage from spring to autumn
  • Hardy
  • Grows up to 20cm tall and 35cm wide
  • Moist but well-drained or well-drained soil
  • Full sun
  • Exposed or sheltered
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4. Briza maxima (greater quaking grass)

Next is an annual grass that has stunning nodding flower heads that resemble lanterns hanging from the stems.

In the garden, these will gently move and sway, and they are also a popular pick for flower arrangements to bring their beauty indoors as well.

  • Flowers in summer
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows to 60cm tall
  • Moist but well-drained or well-drained soil
  • Full sun
  • Exposed or sheltered
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5. Imperata cylindrica (cogon grass) ‘Rubra’

Or, for dark and dramatic colour, look no further than ‘Rubra’. The brilliant red spikes slowly fade to green, so are a brilliant choice for a colourful border with other fun coloured blooms.

Although, if you have a patio garden, they also grow well in containers. Plant between May and September in loam or clay soil.

  • Colourful foliage from spring to autumn
  • Hardy through most of the UK
  • Grows to 50cm tall
  • Moist but well-drained or well-drained soil
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Exposed or sheltered
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6. Miscanthus sinensis (eulalia) ‘Gracillimus’ 

Without a doubt, this grass will soften any harsh landscape with the narrow, arching leaves that are joined by purple tinged flowers in late summer and autumn.

Perfect for prairie planting, gravel gardens and courtyard spaces, all that’s necessary is to remove any dead foliage and flowers in spring.

  • Flowers in late summer
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows to 1.5m tall and 1m wide
  • Moist but well-drained or well-drained soil
  • Full sun
  • Exposed or sheltered
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7. Pennisetum alopecuroides (Chinese fountain grass)

Next is a charming evergreen that grows in compact clumps of narrow green leaves that turn shades of brown in the winter.

During summer, soft floral inflorescences bloom in shades of soft pinky green that are really something special. In winter, they will need protection in cold areas, because they are only hardy in milder locations of the UK.

  • Evergreen foliage and flowers in summer
  • Hardy in coastal and relatively mild parts of the UK
  • Grows to 1.5m tall
  • Well-drained soil
  • Full sun
  • Sheltered
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8. Stipa gigantea (golden oats)

Another evergreen ornamental grass to grow in the garden is Stipa gigantea, which grows up to 2m tall.

The green leaves arch and are joined by panicles of oat-like purple flowers in summer that turn golden coloured in autumn.

  • Evergreen foliage with flowers in summer and autumn
  • Hardy through most of the UK
  • Grows up to 2m tall
  • Moist but well-drained or well-drained soil
  • Full sun
  • Sheltered
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9. Deschampsia cespitosa (tufted hair grass)

The narrow, leathery evergreen leaves of this ornamental grass are accompanied by silver-purple flowers in summer and they look particularly effective with dark plants grown behind them to highlight the shimmering flowerheads.

They prefer acidic conditions, so ensure your garden soil is the right fit for this plant. These will also look great in wildflower meadows, coastal gardens, and cottage gardens.

  • Evergreen foliage with flowers in summer
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows up to 1.5m tall
  • Moist but well-drained or well-drained soil
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Exposed or sheltered
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10. Helictotrichon sempervirens (blue oat grass) 

Finally, the dense tufted evergreen foliage of blue oat grass is a great architectural ornamental grass for the garden. They prefer an alkaline or neutral soil pH, so be sure your garden soil is suitable.

Divide the grass in spring to increase your stock of this wonderful plant.

  • Evergreen foliage
  • Hardy
  • Grows up to 1.5m tall
  • Moist but well-drained or well-drained soil
  • Full sun
  • Exposed or sheltered
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So, take your pick of ornamental grasses for your garden to soften the surroundings and complement the rest of your planting schemes too.

Spring is here, see my post on spring pollinators:

Or check out my Pinterest board for more ideas:

spring pollinators
Spring pollinators
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Pinterest Board


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