The grasses of the Miscanthus group are spectacular in the Autumn - October through December). There are many to choose from, including Miscanthus sinensis ‘Silver Feather’ - Kleine Fontaine and Miscanthus sinensis ‘Gracilimus’. Their plumes of flower last well into the winter, and are valuable in the late garden dead or alive!
Miscanthus can start to give a good plume display in June July, then holding well into the autumn as they change into feathery seed-head plumes after the flowers. The cream white of the flowers changes into light straw colours – well suited to autumn – but also with some surprise shades depending upon the season.
Whilst most of the grasses give a good display in the autumn, it is the majestic Miscanthus types that are by far the best. Stem colour, long life of the seedheads and height are the redeeming features of this group.
As well as the seed heads colour, the arching sprays of the foliage are not to be dismissed and add charm to herbaceous borders and shrub areas. Many of the varieties have copper, bronze or orange foliage as it dies down – lasting will into the winter. If utilized with herbaceous perennial plantings, the autumn foliage gives a good foil to the blues, reds and gold which are predominant with the late flowering perennials.
Rudbeckia, Michaelmas Daisies and Crocosmia will certainly benefit by being near to the turning colours of the Miscanthus. So too will the autumn flowering Colchicum.
As well as providing the late autumn display of colour for us gardeners, there is also a late feast for many birds and beneficial insects with the minute seeds. The cover of the foliage, which can be left through winter, can also provide a winter snug for hedgehogs and hibernating toad etc..
Autumn Grasses colour Miscanthus are happy planted in most situations, but for the best effect for autumn colour, then if they can be planted either with any stray sunlight playing on them, or better, standing aloof of other plants with the late evening sun behind them. They are mainly dry area plants, and one of the best all round plants for dry gardens – rarely needing watering.
There is a wide range of Miscanthus to choose from – with heights from around a metre right up to 2 meters for some.
The autumn rain will make them look a little soggy and feeling sorry for themselves, but a quick breath of drying wind will soon 'fluff' them up again to give that spectacular display.
Miscanthus are of course good for earlier periods in the year - but that is catered for elsewhere.