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Ornamental grasses

Ornamental grasses at Chelsea

Undemanding and very rewarding to grow, we've selected a range of the best grasses, sedges and rushes on show at the Chelsea Flower Show 2008.

Amenanthele lessoniana

Amenanthele lessoniana

If you're looking for a grass that performs well in dry shade, try Amenanthele lessoniana (formerly Stipa arundinacea). From autumn through to spring, its foliage takes on spectacular red, orange and yellow tints, making it an essential grass for mixed borders.

Arundo donax 'Macrophylla'

Plants don't get much more architectural than the bamboo-like Arundo donax, with its magnificent grey-green stems that can exceed 3m in height. 'Macrophylla' is slightly chunkier than the species Arundo donax, has bigger leaves, and is better suited to smaller gardens.

Briza media 'Limouzi' (Quaking grass)

The golden flower heads of this compact grass, and its signature 'quaking' habit make it well worth growing. Place in full sun or light shade.

Carex flava

Carex flava (Yellow sedge)

This semi-evergreen, dwarf sedge is perfect for growing in window boxes. A sunny position is ideal, but it will perform well in part shade.

Carex testacea

Carex testacea

Carex testacea makes a great impact with its slender, orange-tinted foliage. Easy to keep in normal to damp soils, it reaches 50cm in height.

Eragrostis 'Totnes Burgundy'

This deciduous grass favours a sunny, open position. The mature leaves turn purple-red from the tips, making for a riotous splash of colour. It grows to 1m in height.

Hakonechloa macra 'Alboaurea'

Hakonechloa macra 'Alboaurea'

If you want a spectacular grass to show off in a large pot or container, you can't go wrong with Hakonechloa macra 'Alboaurea'. Forming extravagant mounds of variegated, bright yellow leaves (more lime green in part shade), it brightens any garden.

Jarava ichu, photo by Dianna Jarwinski, Fizz Photos / Knoll Gardens

Jarava ichu

Launched at the Chelsea Flower Show 2008, Jarava ichu looks set to become a first class ornamental grass. With silver panicles of summer flowers borne above bright foliage, it looks particularly good in a container.

Luzula nivea (Snowy woodrush)

An excellent ground cover plant, Luzula nivea has wide, hairy leaves and arching heads of pretty, delicate white flowers. Plant it in sun or part, damp shade (although it will cope with drier conditions).

Miscanthus sinensis 'Morning Light'

Light and airy, with green and cream foliage and pink flowers, Miscanthus sinensis 'Morning Light' reaches 1.7m in height. It looks particularly stunning by water.

Muhlenbergia dumosa

An interesting, unusual plant from the deserts of Mexico, bearing clouds of tiny leaves on arching stems. Requiring little water or maintenance, Muhlenbergia dumosa isn't fully hardy, so will need protecting from frosts.

Pennisetum 'Red Buttons'

As the name suggests, this grass has red button-shaped flowers above mounds of fresh green foliage. It grows best in full sun in a well-drained soil and reaches 1m in height.

Poa labillardierei

A striking blue grass with mounds of slender foliage and lovely silvery flower heads. Poa labillardierei makes an elegant addition to borders.

Discuss this plant feature

Talkback: Ornamental grasses
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clarke_r 24/11/2011 at 15:27

Please Can You Describe How And You Prune The Ornamental Grass
"Blue Fescue".

nathalie_norris 24/11/2011 at 15:27

need suggestions for perennial grasses and plants to grow in south facing sloping dry garden that bakes in the sun

Newcastle 24/11/2011 at 15:29

Some comments on propogating these grasses fom seed would be useful also suggestions about companion plants such as bulbs.