Thursday, 5 March 2009

Why I'm Wild About Indigenous Grasses

I read a comment the other day that stated quite matter of factly that using wild grasses in your garden is no longer fashionable...what? When did wild grasses ever reach any kind of recognition that puts them in the fashionable bracket? I haven't checked recently, but I don't think they want to be fashionable anyway. If anything, I don't think we've even begun to explore the beauty and the practicalities of using bunch type grasses.

Here's a few reasons why I think you should find a corner of your garden to plant some indigenous grasses:
  1. Grasslands need to be protected...Most people are surprised to know that grasslands are the most threatened biome in South Africa, but even more surprising is the fact that the biodiversity of our grasslands is second only to the species richness of our world famous fynbos.

  2. Birds and butterflies and other creatures love grasses...Now I'm not suggesting that by planting wild grasses in your garden, it comes anywhere near to making up for the destruction to this sensitive vegetation type. But by planting grasses, you will definitely attract birds and insects that would normally skip over your garden in search of more hospitable habitats.

  3. Wild Grasses look amazing...From an aesthetic point of view, there is not much that beats the sound and look of tall grasses being blown in the wind, or the early morning dew that sparkles on cobwebs and leaf blades.

  4. Veld Grasses are easy to maintain...There is also not much to maintaining a good sized area of wild grasses. If you consider that once established, you need only cut it back once a year to let the new green growth take over from the old bronzed foliage.

  5. Bunch Grasses are a great way of retaining soil...The roots of most grasses go down fairly deep, and therefore help anchor the soil. So that even in times of heavy rainfall, you can relax knowing that your precious topsoil is not going to be washed out to sea.

  6. Native Grasses conserve need very little water to keep indigenous grass looking good - in fact, you shouldn't really have to water them at all once they are established.

Wherever you are, and whatever you call Veld Grass (Steppes in Russia, Pusztas in Hungary, Pampas in South America, or Prairies in North America), there are a wide selection of plants to choose from that will add an incredible amount of beauty to your garden. I will provide a selection of great indigenous grasses that you can use in your garden in a post soon.

If you still need convincing look at the some of the masters of using wild grass in the garden - Dan Pearson and Oehme & Van Sweden.

Now that I think about it, don't just find a corner to plant some grasses, why not plant your entire garden just using grasses.
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