Seslerias are a group of practical, durable and beautiful grasses whose popularity in the UK is rapidly increasing as we come to see just how useful and effective they are in our gardens and designed spaces.
It is the foliage of these super adaptable plants that make them so useful in our gardens, and varies from shades of dark green through to bright almost yellow green and on to blue ish and grey. Often produced during the summer months the flowers can add considerably to the grasses appeal, but it is the foliage which is perhaps the prime quality and the number one reason for their use in so many different garden situations.
In warmer, and drier, climates they remain evergreen but in our mild and often damp conditions sesleria are best regarded as being semi evergreen. In practice this simply means that while the plants inclination may be to retain its foliage year round by the end of the winter that foliage can look fairly bedraggled and so will take being trimmed back to within an inch or so of the base any time from early spring onwards.
Seslerias are generally unfussy as to soil type. While an average to well drained soil is possibly ideal, they appear happy in a variety of heavier soils; only becoming problematic in soils where there is a high level of moisture or surface waterlogging during the winter period. They do not like boggy conditions and, like so many other plants, will be slower to establish in heavier soils.
While all sesleria prefer a sunny and generally open position some seem able to tolerate a small level of shade. The open shade such as cast by buildings and fence lines is not an issue for most, while some such as Sesleria autumnalis has shown itself capable of growing in proximity to larger woody plants, and their thirsty root systems, however flowering can be significantly reduced under such situations. Although, and in common with most other such foliaged plants, the grey and blue foliaged forms such as Sesleria Summer Skies offer best foliage colour in full sun.
The flowers tend to come in various shades of white and vary from slim and elongated, such as with Sesleria autumnalis, or rounded such as with Sesleria nitida or Sesleria argentea. Most are produced during summer although Sesleria nitida produces spring time rounded white flowers that are especially valuable early in the season. Sesleria caerulea and Sesleria Spring Dream are compact and produce flowers on short stems which while delicately beautiful do not offer the same mass effect as the summer blooming types.
Some, such as Sesleria nitida for example, are effective when used individually as early season accent plants, as in the Gravel garden at Knoll. Most others can be used in drifts and groups, and will be very effective in general planting schemes in combination with a huge number of other grasses and perennials. While others, such as Sesleria Greenlee Hybrid, can also be used as a matrix or base grass in what are now generally termed as meadow style plantings. At this they excel. The happy combination of long season foliage and a mostly clumping mounded habit make sesleria well placed to act as a base and a foil in such schemes. Meadow style planting offers an enticing mix of elegant informality and low maintenance with some strikingly beautiful results.