Eye Catching Light Displays

Not content with providing fabulous displays of eye catching colour shape and form, autumn is the time of year when so many of the flowering grasses display yet another quality that makes them so indispensible to our gardens. Their ability to capture even the smallest rays of sunshine and turn it into a dazzling display of light and movement. At this time of year morning and evening sunshine is relatively low in the sky and these grasses take full advantage of this to literally ‘light up’ when caught in such soft sunlight. These moments occur whenever the sun shines; and while fleeting are sublimely beautiful.

Calamagrostis Karl Foerster (above) in the Dragon Garden appears almost alight with reflected sunshine.

Miscanthus Malepartus (below), is justly famed for its wonderful dark purple to red flowers. But when hit by some early morning sunshine the effect is equally dramatic.

Rather shorter but no less effective is Molinia Poul Petersen (below), whose enthusiastically produced flowers stems catch and radiate the smallest amount of light.

Another group of molinias, which are all UK native plants, are the tall purple moor grasses and Molinia Karl Foerster (below), is a super example that is always much commented on in the gardens.

Pennisetums are very effective at catching the light and we have quite a few in the gardens. Pennisetum Dark Desire (below), produces masses of large purple to black flowers that with a bit of morning dew seem to almost smoulder in the early light.

Not to be outdone Pennisetum macrourum (below), looks fabulous in the Gravel Garden while a more compact selection from Knoll, Pennisetum Short Stuff (below again), does the same albeit at a lower height. The compact free flowering nature of this plant makes it especially valuable in smaller gardens.


The korean feather reed grass, Calamagrostis brachytricha (below), is superb at catching the suns rays and will light up a dull area with ease.

Stipa gigantea, the giant oat grass, (below), or any of its selections revels in sunny open spots where it can gather every ounce of sunshine to provide an electrifying display of colour and light.

For some more sunlit grasses why not visit our Fabulous Backlit Grasses gallery.