Plant of the month November 2016

Urban Gardening – Grasses in the City

Ornamental grasses are still key elements in garden design and bring lightness and joy to every garden or countryside. Ornamental grasses put the finishing touch on edges and corners and give shrub beds or entire sections of a garden a softer, harmonic structure thanks to their versatile growth form. Grasses are growing in importance even when it comes to covering large areas.

Grasses bring spontaneity and wildness to gardens and do not necessarily need to be cut back. Their decay also serves as a design element for the garden designer Piet Oudolf who is known for his natural garden designs. Oudolf likes using tall grasses such as tufted hair grass, moor grass and autumn moor grass. Tourist magnets such as the High Line Park, an elevated section of a disused New York railroad spur, bear its signature. He brought many plants from the North American prairie to Europe. Grasses that also look good in autumn and winter are switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) which originates from the American prairie, tufted hair grass  (Deschampsia cespitosa), such as the "Gold veil" or "Goldtau” deschampsia varieties which turn golden yellow in autumn, moor grass (molinia)  and fountaingrass (pennisetum) with their bristle-like inflorescences. Oudolf is particularly interested in how a garden functions as an ecosystem and how natural plant communities and aesthetics can be imitated from nature. He views colour as something that is secondary. Piet Oudolf’s gardens give viewers an intense feeling for nature, they appear wild and dishevelled, romantic and melancholic and are also feast for the eyes in hoarfrost in the winter. Like his role model Karl Foerster, Ernst Pagels (born 9 October 9 1913 in Stockelsdorf; † 16 January 2007 in Leer (East Frisia) cultivated shrubs and especially grasses. He reached the zenith of his cultivation work in the 1980s with his miscanthus sinensis varieties. He was the first to get the miscanthus sinensis ‘Gracilimus’ variety to bloom in a greenhouse. In the years following, he developed more than 50 miscanthus sinensis varieties. During this time, a comprehensive range of large ornamental grasses were developed, which provided significant design impulses and inspiration for "Ornamental Grass Gardening" in garden architecture, especially in Great Britain and the United States. Pagels’ selections have largely retained their wild characteristics while also improving their traits in the garden. A special them garden was dedicated to Ernst Pagels as part of the "Breeders from the region" series in the park of the gardens in Bad Zwischenahn – Rostrup. it was planned by the long-standing employee and international garden designer Anke Mattern.

Modern garden planners have taken up and continued with his approaches and visions. Creating a garden so that it is truly beautiful and creates a lovely atmosphere 12 months a year is also Peter Janke’s, from Hilden, most essential design approach. Peter Janke’s consistent handling of shrubs, grasses and woody plants, while taking into account their individual planting requirements makes it possible for him to create sustainable, stunning gardens even under extreme situations.