Picton’s Plant

of the Week:

Golden Oat Grass

Roddy Milne, head gardener at Picton Castle and Gardens near Haverforwest, shares his passion for plants….

ORNAMENTAL grasses have a fascinating habit of falling in and out of fashion with gardeners.

Over the last ten years they have definitely been ‘in’ again and have formed the backbone of a new style of planting adopted by many garden designers which in turn has led to their renaissance amongst other gardeners. In this style grasses provide grace, elegance and unity in the midst of a complex matrix of flowering perennials.

Thankfully certain good plants are free from the rise and fall of gardening fashion and will always be cultivated in gardens. One such plant is a beautiful grass called Stipa gigantea, aptly known as the Golden Oat Grass.

From a mound of evergreen, linear leaves rise fantastically elegant two metre tall flower stems. The flowers are faintly tinged purple but by late July the seeds have fallen and the stems ripen to a golden colour.

In a summer breeze the stems shimmer in the light. The tall flower stems have a transparent quality which allows easy viewing of what lies beyond.

Golden Oat is very easy to grow and enjoys a sunny position with well drained soil.

To keep the plant looking tidy the old flower heads can be cut off low to the ground in the autumn.

Here at Picton we sometimes comb the mound of leaves with a rake to remove some of the old dead leaves. It is best planted so that it can be viewed with the evening light behind it.