The flowering plants are beginning to die back and the deciduous trees are colouring up ready for leaf fall, prior to pissing off for months to come. The autumn breezes are searching for playmates. Perhaps you might consider giving them something to work with, studding, not larding your garden with ornamental bamboo and fancy grasses. A little research is a good idea. Some bamboos spread by underground rhizomes and may become difficult to control. Plant these by all means, if you have boundless energy for pruning, a huge garden or hate your neighbours. Otherwise choose clump forming species, including Bambusa, Chusquea, Fargesia, Himalayacalamus, Schizostachyum and Shibataea. Sorry about the litany of Latin but I am not about to dredge the internet for common names for that lot. If you want to ask for lacy fanny weed or whatever down at the garden centre, off you go; you can deal with the consequences. The RHS website is a mine of information: https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?PID=79
I brought the merest smear of root of Phyllostachys with me when I moved here. I show the picture as evidence of what can be achieved in a dry, almost sunless patch of unloved earth in twelve years. The rustle of the leaves is clearly audible in the bedroom, fifteen feet above ground level. Each spring I am slightly anxious that we will see new growth punching through the floor of the lounge but I am so enamoured of the shimmying canes and whispering leaves that I am resolved to deal with it when and if it happens. There is no plan B. This year I planted a pot full of Arundo donax (giant cane) in the same area. This can grow as high as twenty to thirty feet, with hollow stems an inch in diameter. It should give the bamboo pause for thought and if the two of them loft my home into the air, well, I always wanted a tree house.
Anemanthele lessoniana (pheasant’s tail grass)
Botanical Barbara gave me a wonderful clump of Anemanthele lessoniana (pheasant’s tail grass), which shows the importance of choosing best quality friends. Delicate tuffets of the murmuring stems have spread gently around the whole garden and add some cohesion to my erratic, greedy, plant addict style. When the fountain spew of stalks becomes excessive, it’s a simple matter of grabbing the surfeit and giving it a good yank. Make space for Miscanthus, with streaked leaves, or purple plumes. Perennial grasses come bedecked with columns, spumes and spires of subtly coloured fuzz. Annual varieties boast clouds, sprays and even rabbits’ tails (Lagurus ovatus). Hakonechloa macra (Japanese forest grass) forms a low, striped swaying partner to the big yellow daisies in a sunny bed and doesn’t spread by seed or root, even if I want it to. Sod’s law strikes again. Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’ (black lily turf) bears flowers, then berries, so it isn’t truly a grass. It looks like one and a striking beauty at that, so I’m putting it in the list.
Hakonechloa macra (Japanese forest grass)
I had become accustomed to the fact that my Cortaderia (pampas grass) was never going to flower. I talked myself into the view that the cascade of plain green was the perfect foil for an obelisk full of Humulus lupulus ‘Aureus’ (golden hop). Now the tufts of fluff are forming above my head, leaving me to hope that they are white; I tend to the view that the pink and blue varieties look as if they were sent ‘round in the washing machine at too high a temperature, with somebody’s coloured winter drawers. Apparently if you have this plant in your front garden, it indicates that you are a swinger. Let me make this absolutely clear; mine is in the back.