Books for Nature Lovers
Guide to Grasses of southern Africa (Revised edition)
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Review By: SA Garden - April 2012

The new buzzword in garden design is grasses - adding indigenous or exotic grasses in groups, as a low-growing border, as accent plants in mixed beds or creating a grassland meadow in your garden. The wonderful thing about grasses is that they come in so many different shapes, colours, sizes and textures - it is easy to choose a grass for your specific need. Even more wonderful is the fact that garden centres stock many varieties of grasses and sedges, and it is an absolute pleasure to go grass shopping these days! 
Read the label carefully to see the height and spread of the mature plant, and plant your grasses in full sun. They are drought-tolerant and some are self-seeding. The indigenous grasses will bring many seed-eating birds to your garden, and will also attract insects like bees and butterflies. Grasses look good in summer and autumn, and some will even give a show in winter. 
Keep the following design and gardening principles in mind when you choose your grasses:

  • Height - plant low-growing, mound-forming grasses like Festuca, Acorus and Imperata along the borders of your flower beds or under standard trees. Plant medium height grasses between plants of the same height, and tall grasses at the back of a mixed bed.
  • Spacing - ensure that enough space is available around medium and tallk grasses to allow the wind to move through them; this creates that beautiful grassland movement when the grasses sway in the wind
  • Colour - there are many colours available, like silver and blue, variegated silver or variegated yellows, brown, red, light or dark green. You should also find out if the grass will have significant seed plumes, and what colour those will be. Use different colours of grasses together.

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