Modern meadows are a key look this year – gorgeous grasses informally planted together, mixed in with tubs of tulips or dotted with single white foxgloves, and always providing unbeatable colours, movement and texture. There’s no doubt that at the moment, grass is officially gorgeous.
The main idea of modern meadowland is to combine natural planting style with a contemporary, formal layout, creating a traditional meadowland re-interpreted for the modern world. Getting the look can take some thought, and patience, but it’s worth the effort. The secret is to make the maximum use of the colour, texture and height of grasses to give a feast for the eye.
The use of grasses in particular is especially useful since these plants provide gorgeous subtle shades of colour for most of the year, and this is capped by elegant seed heads later in the summer. Once established they take little care, and of course insects and birds love them.
Stalks and Seed Heads
However you plan to plant, one of the most important ideas is to use the variety of heights that different grasses give you to add depth to your planting. For example, use shorter varieties at the front of borders where you can see them. Don’t plant singly but in large clumps – or in straight lines to mark paths or divisions in the garden. Taller varieties can go almost anywhere – even near the front if they aren’t planted densely – giving movement and adding strong architectural features.
For smaller clumps with beautiful delicate flower heads, try Briza media or Briza Maxima. For stronger architectural spikes with fabulous golden seed heads, try Stipa gigantea Gold Fontaene.
Grasses aren’t just green. How about browns (Carex milk chocolate), rich greys and blues (Elijah Blue Fescue) or the exotic Blood Grass ‘Imperata cylindrica Rubra’ with mid-green leaves that turn blood-red from the tips downwards and have fluffy silvery-white flower spikes in summer. In particular, this spectacular grass provides a wonderful contrast to other golden, blue or even black foliaged grasses.
Grasses make it easy to create almost any kind of texture in your garden. For instance, choose from the delicate softness of Pheasant Grass (Stipa tenuifolia), the explosive, spiky mounds created by Miscanthus Yakushima Dwarf, or the upright steely stems of Juncus Carmans.