During the latter half of the 20th century, designers like Karl Forster from Germay and Piet Oudolf from the Netherlands shifted away from tradition with their naturalistic garden designs, introducing grasses to harmonise with the surrounding landscape. Oehme & Van Sweden were the first to adopt the style successfully in the USA.
The ornamental grass movement translates well in Australia with many varieties of grasses that acclimatise readily to our climate. They provide emotion to the landscape, adding unique qualities of light, line and seasonal dynamics. Add these qualities to their sustainability and ease of maintenance, and it becomes clear why grasses are being welcomed into all sorts of gardens in this age of change.
Below are a range of grasses and perennials that are now available.
Miscanthus sinensis 'Yaku Jima'
A compact variety with narrow arching foliage, producing coppery gold feathery plumes around 1.2m high in Summer. Turning warm caramel tones in Autumn. Overall size approx. 1.2m x 80cm. View here.
Panicum virgatum 'Autumn Glory'
This grass has proven its resilience in our extreme summer heatwave and drought conditions. At 70cm tall it is shorter and neater than other Panicums. Water requirements are minimal once established. View here.
Miscanthus sinensis 'Kleine Fontaine'
Compact selection of Miscanthus developed in Germany. It is slightly taller than Miscanthus 'Adagio' but more upright in its growth. Makes a great drift and open landscape performer. Approx. 1.5m high. View here.
Miscanthus sinensis 'Hiawatha'
A very handsome and distinctive grass. A kaleidoscope of colours are revealed in the foliage when subjected to Autumn frost conditions. Upright to 1.8m. Drought tolerant and stunning. View here.
A designer's dream, this plant looks neat all year round and its unique foliage colour and texture contrasts beautifully along side other plants. Performs well in both full sun and shady situations in the garden or in pots. Tolerates dry conditions and coastal spots where the furry leaves resist salt laden winds.
Requires a frost free environment and free draining soil. Whilst it's foliage is the feature, it does produce soft mauve, tubular flowers in elongated panicles above the foliage. Approx. 1m high x 1.5m wide. View here.
Miscanthus sinensis 'Gracillimus'
One of the oldest and perhaps best known Miscanthus and is still popular for good reason. It has a graceful rounded overall shape and fine textured foliage. Beautiful as a feature planting or en masse. Approx. 1.8m high. View here.
Miscanthus sinensis 'Cabaret'
The most striking of all the variegated Miscanthus we grow. Rich green broad blades that have conspicuous milky white stripes with copper-coloured plumes that appear above the foliage in Autumn. Forming a sturdy upright clump to 1.8m high this showy ornamental grass will add drama to the landscape. Heat and drought tolerant. View here.
Helenium autumnale 'Morheim Beauty'
For many years we coveted the swept back deep red petals of Helenium 'Moerheim Beauty'. We now have a small batch for others with a similar passion. Simply stunning clumping herbaceous perennial 60-90cm tall. View here.
Coastal switchgrass. This grass impressed us last year by growing through 46 degree temperatures without missing a beat. Lax blue grey growth to 1.5m tall. Tolerant of a wide range of soils and is fairly salt resistant. Heat and drought tolerant. View here.
Miscanthus sinensis 'Capriccio'
A seriously handsome ornamental grass. The upright nature of 'Capriccio' catches the eye in any landscape. Silvery plumes held high above the foliage add to the appeal of this grass. At 2 metres tall in bloom it certainly grabs attention. Approx. 2m high x 60cm wide. View here.
Miscanthus sinensis 'Sarabande'
'Sarabande' fits into the Miscanthus group between 'Gracillimus' and 'Yaku Jima'. Slightly taller than 'Yaku Jima', and produces inflorescences with gold tints in late Summer on top of narrow graceful leaves. Used as a hedge, focal point, backdrop or drift. Very versatile. Tolerates most soil types in full sun. 1.5m x 1.0m. View here.
Phlomis lanata is endemic to Crete where it can be found growing on rocky soils along cliffs. Hence it handles hot dry conditions with good drainage. It is a low compact shrub to 60cm and over time 1.2m wide. The wooly grey leaves with a hint of gold make a well rounded mound. The lemon yellow flowers, arranged in whorls rise above the foliage in late Spring. Phlomis lanata received an Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society in 2002. It took us 3 years to really appreciate this fabulous plant as it is initially slow to grow. Now however, it draws attention even without flowers. View here.