Thursday, 19 March 2015

Anemanthele lessoniana

Anemanthele lessoniana - Pheasant's tail grass (syn. Stipa arundinacea) is a plant I would not be without, although I have only paid nodding attention to the present trend for grasses the ability of this grass to light up a winter's day makes it really worth while.
 

These pictures were taken on a cold but sunny March day a few years ago, I initially grew them in containers because of my damp shady conditions, but through their habit of seeding themselves around, they have proved themselves capable of thriving in the open ground; any errant seedlings are easily removed.
Growing to roughly a meter square they come easily from cold-sown seed like most perennials and the only maintenance they need is to comb out the dead foliage with your gloved hands in spring. I have seen pictures of them used as a repetitive theme at the front of a large herbaceous border and also planted en-mass on a bank side, both are equally effective. A native of New Zealand they are surprisingly hardy here in all but the severest of winters.

13 comments:

  1. Yours is the second post I've read in the matter of minutes that has really inspired me re containers - these look wonderful Rick. This look would easily transfer to my garden. Thanks for the inspiration.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Angie, I have a few clay pots but these are cheap and cheerful plastic ones, they are much lighter to move around and to be frank I am more interested in the plant than the container.

      Delete
  2. I thought when I saw the plant name Rick I thought you were outdoing we bloggers in writing about rare plants! Then I looked at the old name and I realised I had a cemetery full of it and remembered Brenda abusing me yesterday for allowing it to seed in my garden!
    My next post in three days time shows how fond I am of it, it shows hundreds!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Do I detect a trace of irony here Roger I hope I am not going to see graphic pictures of you spraying Glyphosate onto the poor grass! I did say it looked good en-mass so a cemetery full qualifies I suppose.

      Delete
    2. We will say nothing about my glyphosate. Yes there is a touch of irony although I agree it looks fantastic when in glorious flower. People tend to overlook beauty, especially in grasses when you have huge self seeded amounts as I do in my cemetery gardens. I shall mention my Briza maxima tomorrow in my post. This is thought to be a grass of great beauty but I must admit the locals at Birdwell think my huge drifts which have self seeded are weeds! I shall be giving a link to your nice post!

      Delete
  3. Like you, I have only paid nodding attention to the present trend for grasses. However I must admit that this one really looks good. It is not supposed to be hardy for us but that has to be taken with a grain of salt.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Alain, I lost my main plants in the two severe winters we had a few years ago but these were replenished from the seedlings which sprang up in the following years.

      Delete
  4. I still haven’t delved into the craze of grasses, the closest I have got is 4 big clumps of Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens', which really isn’t a grass. The reason is because of how you describe mature size, I haven’t got a square meter to spare for a grass plant :-)
    But I do know there are some dwarf varieties that won’t get too big, so perhaps I will be able to find some that could live happily in containers permanently.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Might be worth a try Helene, particularly for winter colour.

      Delete
  5. I like this one Rick. I planted it in a West facing border in our Aberdeen garden, it grew huge in its first year, Surprisingly it survived its first Winter and did equally well in its second year.

    ReplyDelete
  6. The only drawback seems to be its habit of self-seeding all over the place Alistair, but they are easily removed.

    ReplyDelete
  7. It does look very striking Rick. Like you I have not jumped on the band wagon for grasses. Although I have grown a lot, most have been disappointing and have only looked at their best for a couple of months per year (I guess you could say the same for a lot of perennials though!!). I think if you are selective, you can find favourites, which perform well, like your Pheasant's Tail grass, and enjoy them alongside mixed planting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I totally agree with you Jane, I have been tempted by very few but they have come a long way from when nearly every garden harboured a pampas grass.

      Delete