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Ornamental grasses and wildflowers

1634 Racine1634 Racine Posts: 547
I have a a few ornamental grasses (Miscanthus and Calamagrostis) planted in an area of rough grass.  I thought it might be nice to fill the spaces between the ornamental grasses with native wildflowers.

Does anybody have experience of mixing ornamental grasses and wildflowers?  If I sow some yellow rattle in this area will it affect the ornamental grasses?

Posts

  • ButtercupdaysButtercupdays Posts: 3,121
    I guess it will to some extent, but if there is sufficient difference in scale, as there would be for Miscanthus, then I don't suppose you would notice it much.
    More important would be the soil and aspect where you are growing them, what kind of rough grass you have, and what wildflowers you are envisaging.

    I grow perennial wildflowers on a partly shaded site and some of them have some of the stature you would need to look good with larger grasses, among them  foxgloves, betony, knapweed, ox-eye daisies, toadflax and meadow cranesbill. I also have Hawkweed (Hieracium) and Nipplewort (Lapsana) which seed around mainly in more open soil, but can make a surprisingly good show of themselves and look well together.
    I use a lot of the native Deschampsia in my planting, as it grows wild here and is good looking, so makes a useful space filler. Clumpers are much easier to deal with than runners. I have Yorkshire fog too and it looks absolutely wonderful when the early morning light brings out the pink tinge in the flower heads, but for a lot of the rest of the time it is an untidy, scruffy mess.
  • 1634 Racine1634 Racine Posts: 547
    Hi @Buttercupdays

    I’ve just got an off-the-shelf annual mix but also bought a small amount of yellow rattle seed to mix in.  

    The spacing between each ornamental grass is just enough to fit a mower through and so that’s what I’ve done.  I scalped the rough grass and ran over it will a spring tine take.  

    Hopefully it should work.  Will have to wait until spring/summer next year to see.  Thankfully not a very expensive mistake if it doesn’t!
  • ButtercupdaysButtercupdays Posts: 3,121
    The annuals though, poppies, cornflowers and the like, are not meadow plants but cornfield plants, that grow in the disturbed soil between the rows of corn. They will probably struggle to establish and compete if sown into rough grass, but as you say, not a costly mistake. Here's hoping :)
  • LoxleyLoxley Posts: 2,901
    What Buttercupdays has done sounds more promising - Miscanthus and Calamagrostis will look better grown with perennials that have a bit more scale. I would remove the mown paths (and eliminate the problem of lawn grasses and weed grasses getting mixed in with your ornamental grasses) and grow larger perennials, native or otherwise. Have a look through Nigel Dunnett's instagram feed for inspiration ;)
  • LoxleyLoxley Posts: 2,901
    edited 22 October
    (In terms of native perennials with some impact you could try Melancholy Thistle, Dyer's Rocket, Oxeye Daisy, Yarrow and Tansy as well as Buttercup's suggestions).
  • 1634 Racine1634 Racine Posts: 547
    Thanks @Loxley , particularly for the Nigel Dunnett suggestion.  Just been checking out his website and it truly is inspirational 

  • rachelQrtJHBjbrachelQrtJHBjb South BucksPosts: 363
    I gifted a friend some of my Aster umbellatus (I grow mine in a border) and she grew it successfully in rough grass. I put her success down to its habit which means it runs ever so gently but doesn't form a basal clump as it spreads. In other words, it tends to put up one stem, move a couple of inches then throw up the next one, and so on. As a result, it looks much more natural that some of the bulkier asters. It currently has good autumn tints (yellow) and dies fairly gracefully.
  • LoxleyLoxley Posts: 2,901
    Aster umbellatus is really nice. Good fluffy seed heads!
  • Check out Noel Kingsbury and Piet Oudolf too--their books offer lots of advice on combining grasses and flowering perennials that in the wild would live in meadow-type conditions. Your soil pH and type is also going to be a determining factor in what kind of meadow you can produce: e.g. Geranium pratense and Fritillaria meleagris in clay, cornflowers and Jacob's Ladder for chalky soils...
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