Ornamental Grasses in the UK

Including ornamental grasses in a garden can supply the interesting linear forms and graceful wind movement that other shrubs, trees and flowers may lack. Ornamental grasses aren't simply green. Available in a wide range of hues, they can complement or contrast with any garden palette. They're equally effective mixed with shrubs, trees and flowering plants, planted as single specimens or in grass borders. Many eye-catching ornamental grasses thrive in gardens in the United Kingdom.

Zebra Grass

A native of Asia, perennial zebra grass (Miscanthus sinensis) is a clumping grass with narrow, 3-to-6 foot arching leaves. Spring and summer leaf color is blue-green with horizontal light yellow bands. In autumn, they become purple while the remainder of the plant changes to reddish-brown. The grass' pinkish flowers also appear in autumn, between September and November. Short spikes of the flowers top stalks up to 6 feet in height. They stay on the plants through winter. Use zebra grass, recommends the BBC, as a specimen plant or in border groups. Plant it in full sun to very light shade and well-drained soil. It tolerates a range of soils from sand to clay.

Pheasant's Tail Grass

Pheasant's tail grass (Anemanthele lessoniana) is a 3-foot high and wide grass native to New Zealand. This mounding grass' arching leaves bring graceful movement to a landscape on windy days. While the plants tolerate shade, their foliage remains dark green. In sun, foliage is green with olive, gold and amber shades. In the winter, says the BBC, the grass' orange-brown tones provide much-needed garden color. From mid-summer into fall, pheasant's tail grass has drooping spikes of greenish-purple flowers. Birds feed on the seed heads that follow. Plant this grass in full sun to shade and well-drained soil in a pH range of 6.5 to 7.5. It tolerates both light and clay soils. In exceptionally cold winters, it will benefit from protection.

Lemon Grass

Lemon grass (Cympopogon citratus) is an ornamental grass hardy to temperatures of 30 degrees Fahrenheit and higher. Native to India and Sri Lanka, it's best grown as a conservatory or greenhouse plant in the United Kingdom, according to the BBC. Standing 2 to 4 feet high and up to 3 feet wide, lemon grass forms dense, rounded clumps of arching bright green leaves, up to 3 feet long and 1 inch wide. Crushed leaves emit a lemony fragrance. Lemon grass seldom flowers, advises the Missouri Botanical Garden. Plant the disease-and-pest-resistant grass in herb gardens, containers or borders. It grows rapidly in rich, well-drained loam and full sun. Brew tea from mature leaf sections, or use them in to flavor stews and soups.

Keywords: Ornamental grasses UK, English garden design, ornamental grass plants

About this Author

A freelance writer, Judy Wolfe has owned Prose for the Pros, a freelance writing business, since 2006. She's been an inveterate traveler since 1961 and draws on her travel experiences to provide articles for such websites as Chincoteague Island Vacations and Berlin Dude. Wolfe holds a Bachelor of Arts in literature from California State University at Pomona.