Stipa tenuissima: the perfect ornamental grass
Stipa tenuissima (also known as Nassella tenuissima) is a wonderfully graceful deciduous grass which grows to a height of 50-60cm. It has a glorious tufted growth habit, with long narrow leaves which dance in the slightest breeze. In mid- to late summer it boasts feathery flower panicles, and these add an extra dimension of interest and airy movement. It dies back over the winter, although often leaving a skeleton of dry brown foliage which stands strong throughout the worst of the colder weather.
Like most ornamental grasses, S. tenuissima prefers a bright and sunny position, but it is tolerant of most soil types providing they are well-drained. It is sufficiently hardy to withstand most British winters, so usually provides repeat interest year after year with very little attention. It can seed itself given fairly readily the right growing conditions. This isn’t to everyone's tastes, but I like to let it drift casually through a mixed border and see what happily informal results occur. We can always remove any unwanted seedlings if needs be, perhaps relocating them to somewhere else in the garden?
So, why should we include S. tenuissima in our garden? Well, above all, it is a great plant for introducing a sense of movement to our planting. It really does dance in the slightest breeze, and whether it is planted individually or as part of a drift, S. tenuissima always provides fantastic value.
From a garden design point of view, S. tenuissima is also superb as a textural contrast plant. Grown at the front of a border alongside large-leaved perennial plants such as Alchemilla mollis, Geranium ‘Johnson’s Blue’ or Heuchera ‘Palace Purple’, S. tenuissima never fails to please. This is particularly apparent in late summer and early autumn, when we are generally less-reliant on flowers and look in other directions for interest in our gardens. As the seasons slowly change, S. tenuissima will always provide reliable and graceful interest, and for these few weeks alone I would always want to include it in the planting plans I create for my garden design customers.
So, if we are looking for a great ornamental grass to enjoy in our garden, we won’t do much better than Stipa tenuissima. Wonderful.
Tythorne Garden Design provides professional fixed-fee garden design solutions for customers in Grantham, Stamford, Newark and surrounding areas. Let's see how we can help you to enjoy your garden more. Call us on 07900 224 239 or 01529 455 355.