Date(s) - 12/10/2018
Kilmington Village Hall
Gold Club Speaker
All speakers at the Gardening Club are experts and none more so than those from Castle Gardens, Sherborne. “I call grasses Marmite plants” said Malcolm, “you either love them or hate them”. His affection for this extensive group of plants was evident in an inspiring talk on the assets of decorative grasses in the garden. In place of the usual illustrations via PowerPoint, Malcolm had set up an array of specimens in pots with a few perennials on a separate table. Grasses fall naturally into three main classes, runners (few), seeders (some), and clumpers (the majority, fortunately). Most prefer an open, sunny site with average soil conditions although some varieties, rushes for example, are happy with their roots in water. All require a trim in winter: those that die down completely can be cut off to a couple of inches above the base, preferably before the new growth appears in spring; evergreen ones require a spring grooming, combing through the clump to remove dead stalks. Diversity is their overriding quality, in colour, size and form, making them ideal for both pots and flower beds. With a little added grit to the soil or compost, and a light annual feed, grasses are guaranteed to give years of pleasure.
Moving on to individual species, pot by pot was taken from those on display to describe its uses and show its finer points. Many were old favourites – Stipa arundinacea with green and bronze arching leaves, tenuissima, the delicate Pony Tail grass, and gigantea with its two metre spikes of golden seed-heads, all thriving in hot, dry conditions. Sedges and rushes came next, Acorus and Carex, both happy to grow in damp areas. Among the deciduous varieties were many favourites: prairie grasses with nodding flowers, black-leaved Ophiopogon, red-leaved Imperata, grasses with blue, silver and striped leaves. Miscanthus is tall and rigid with the unmistakeable plumes held stiffly above the leaves while Hakonechloa is low-growing and soft, its graceful leaves responding to every breath of wind. Finally, Malcolm turned his attention to perennial plants that look good with grasses. From the separate table he picked up flowering plants including Aster, Rudbeckia, Echinacea, a particular Salvia or Verbena, and replaced each one among the display of grasses. The resulting array of beautiful shapes and colours had convinced us all of the value of grasses in the garden.