Ornamental Grasses

Garden Design has progressed in leaps and bounds over the years. The use of ornamental grasses is on the rise. The strappy fronds of the New Zealand Flax are popping up in many forms. With leaves ranging from green, red, yellow, purple and blue grey they create striking backdrops for other plants.

Whether they are variegated, with stripes or in single shades, ornamental grasses can look stunning in large urns or pots. They are fantastic for the gardener who requires low maintenance plants.

Planting a sea of grasses is an effective way of dealing with large areas.

A few fantastic grasses that you may like to add to your garden are listed below:

1. Festuca glauca- Blue Grass

Vivid blue hair in low-growing evergreen tussocks which slowly expand over the years. In late spring, short blue-green flower plumes emerge, turning tan as they age. The more intense the light, the bluer the colouring. Lovely in gravel gardens, or even troughs or window boxes, with dwarf spring bulbs. Grows to 30cm.


2. Calamagrostis x acutiflora – Reed Grass

Reed grass is easy to grow but takes two or three years to bulk up before
delivering real wow factor by producing upright stems topped with feathery
heads. It performs in shade and sun in a variety of soils and can be used as a
single specimen or in groups. Calamagrostis comes into its own in cooler


3. Lomandra longifolia – Spiny Mat Rush

Lomandra is a wonderful plant native to Australia. It has long, narrow, green lance shaped leaves that grow from a central stem base. It produces tiny fragrant yellow flowers that grow in tight clusters on tall spikes.

Tanika- reliable and tough, 50cm high

Katrinus- fine leaves, 80cm


4. Dianella – Flax Lily

Dianella is a evergreen perennial native to Australia. It is best identified by its long, sword shaped green and white leaves. During the Spring and Summer season, Dianellas bloom blue and violet flowers with purple berries.

Little Rev- compact, blue green foliage, 30cm high

Little Jess- tough dwarf variety, 40cm high

Tas Red- tough and reliable, 40cm high


5. Pennisetum alopecuroides – Fountain Grass

Fountain grass is grown primarily for its bottle-brush flowers that fountain
outwards – hence the common name. The fluffy caterpillars take on extra sparkle
when jewelled by morning dew. But many pennisetums also produce a handsome dome
of foliage and look stunning at the front of a sunny border. They do best in
hotter summers and grow to around 3ft tall.

Nafray – compact habit, 60cm high.

Purple Lea- elegant purple flowers, 90cm high.

Pennstripe- Variegated foliage, 50cm high.



Trees for a small space

Trees add depth and dimension to any space but it can sometimes be challenging to choose a tree for a small space. Often people worry about planting trees in close proximity to their house but as long as you’re sensible about what you plant, there shouldn’t be a problem.

Trees in small spaces need to work hard to earn their space there. They really need to be providing interest all year round, but at the very least for 3 seasons. Here are a few ideas…

1. Malus ‘Royal Raindrops’ – Beautiful Autumn colour. Produces mass blooms in Spring.


2. Acer palmatum var. ‘Dissectum Crimsonwave’ – Shows an attractive burgundy coloured foliage. Prefers a moist, well drained soil. Keep well mulched to maintain soil moisture.


3. Lagerstroemia indica x fauriei ‘Natchez’ – A very popular cultivar with white flowers and attractive bark. The branches are slightly pendulous giving the tree a weeping habit. Very adaptable to many conditions. Best in well drained, moist, slightly acidic soils where it receives full sun.


4. Pyrus calleryana ‘Capital’ – An upright tree that tolerates all conditions from wet to dry. Holds its leaves well into Winter.


There are so many more trees that will work in a small space. These are just a few of my favourite.


Meaning: a miniature garden in an artificial environment.

I am just a little bit obsessed with terrariums at the moment. I think they are making a comeback, and they really are so 70’s!! Just like flares and John Travolta in Saturday night fever. I was born in the 70’s, and I remember them very well!

Terrariums remind me of my childhood at my Grandmothers house, and I think they are great for those of us who have little room, work in offices or live in apartments.

They might just be the perfect plant for me. I travel a huge amount and even though I love plants, It is difficult to look after them being away from home so often.

For those of you who would prefer to buy or even lease them you can visit Miniscapes in Melbourne, Australia


or a company called Terrariums of Adelaide also custom make terrariums, but they only deliver to SA.



If you would like to have a go at building your own terrarium, here are some instructions:

Spread gravel, preferably a natural kind like pea gravel, an inch or two thick in a glass container. You can use a fish tank, which is inexpensive and has a large opening that makes it easier to work in, but smaller containers like fishbowls will also work as long as they are transparent. Whatever size you use, it helps if your hand can fit through the opening.

Putting a layer of sphagnum moss over the gravel is optional, but it will keep the soil that goes on top from seeping into the gravel. Then add at least two inches of potting soil, or more depending on the types and sizes of your plants.

Finally, place your plants inside the terrarium. Smaller containers will hold two or three, and some might hold only one. Use very small, relatively hardy plants that do well in medium-moisture environments, like pathos, ferns, moss, ivy and bromeliads.

Water or mist the terrarium sparingly, but keep it moist. If you’re using a container with a cover, monitor the terrarium for a month or two to make sure it does not get too moist (condensation will form on the glass, and mold and fungus might appear on the plants and in the soil). Adjust the lid, or remove it, to temper the amount of moisture; eventually it should stabilize, and the terrarium won’t need as much care. Terrariums without lids require more water and care, as moisture is lost to evaporation.

Here is a list of several appropriate plants for a terrarium. You dont have to follow this list. You should be creative and plant what appeals to you. Experiment and find out what works and what doesnt.

–       Pilea species – Pilea

–       Selaginella species – Selaginella

–       Crassula species – Jade Plant

–       Succulents of any type

–       Soleirolia soleirolli – Babys tears

–       Fittonia species – Mosaic Plant

–       Any type of fern. Maidenhair will work quite well.

Good luck and happy planting!