December 17, 2018

Caroline’s Garden Diaries 15.7.14: Supergrass

Oh dear, it’s 6.30 am and I’m up, reading how to identify grasses – lots of new words to learn, like lemma, spikelet, glume – and then you need to know whether the spikelet (a grass’s flower) is held on a panicle or a racheme, is the glume hairy, is it awned, and how long is the ligule? Go back to bed.

This new obsession I blame on fashion for meadows – they’re everywhere now, as councils realize they can cut back on cutting grass and justify it as being kind to wild-life. We’ve done it ourselves as part of having a “natural” garden and it does create some lovely effects: flowers growing in long-grass; inviting paths cut through long grass; and it turns out, if you leave grass uncut, it produces flowers that are really beautiful.

Most gardeners these days already know about using grasses in gardens. Had lunch at Scampston Hall last week, brilliant example of grassy planting, and came home with a lovely Stipa gigantea. Then, next day, up to the Arboretum where new meadows with paths are magical and what a glorious display of grasses! But realize I know almost nothing about them – don’t know their names (apart from Timothy which I learned when little as obviously it was named after my brother); are they “natives”, if so, how are they related to Piet Udolf’s plants? Grasses, as most plants do, have flowers but how do the flowers work?

So, holiday project for this week in Devon, when not eating cream tea, learn about grasses. First step, get book from library that tells me grasses have delightful names like Creeping Bent, Wood Melick, False Brome, Tufted Hairgrass, Crested Dogstail; next step, collect a handful of grasses collected on walk on heathland; now, which is which?


  1. Lovely Picture Caroline, thanks for sharing and happy summer studies!

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