I resisted grasses for many years. What, I thought, plant more of what I already spend hours ripping out of my flower beds? The grass demon I’ve been fighting in my country garden for years is Twitch Grass, AKA Couch Grass, Dog Grass, or its Latin name: Agropyron repens. It is a clump forming, tough perennial that’s hard to get rid of. It’s colonized my lawn in parts and grows fast. It spreads sideways by tough, fleshy stolons and also by seed. So, in the past, whenever I read an article touting the New American Garden Style that uses grasses as its backbone, I blanched.
New American Garden Style (not actually so new anymore, it started in the late 80s) is all about low maintenance and drought resistance as well as the natural beauty of an American meadow. I was being open minded when I planted an experimental pot of ‘Karl Foerster’ – Feather Reed Grass (Calamagrostis x acutiflora) grass in my garden a couple of years ago. I’ve now seen the light, where grasses are concerned.
The gardener I bought my reed grass from, Virginia Dolliver, raved about how wonderful it was. And now I see: Grasses are wonderful, and right now, late summer is when they shine. The seed heads catch the late summer light, and, in what I think is one of their absolute best characteristics, they wave and ripple gently in the breeze. Watching waving grass is actually soothing, like a visual representation of a purring cat. Try it! There’s even an iPhone app called “Grass“. It’s simply a screen with blades of grass, gently waving, that you can stroke and bend with your finger.
This meadow style green roof by garden designers, Ohme, Van Sweden and Associates is absolutely stunning, and illustrates that ornamental grasses are best seen in huge masses. Let us know if you’ve tried grasses in your garden. Did they work for you? And if you are new to grasses, the garden centre has many to see right now. Have a look, you might get hooked.