The subject of grasses being beneficial to wildlife can often focus on the “meadow” concept and the idea of giving your mower a rest to let the grass grow long and encouraging wild flowers to grow.

  Harvestman Spider: Jodie Randall (rspb-images.com)

Although this is undoubtedly one of the most beneficial ways to encourage wildlife in the garden, it’s worth acknowledging that ornamental grasses that can be bought in pots from garden centres, also provide food and shelter for garden wildlife.

The meadow garden / letting the grass grow long concepts need time, but the beauty of ornamental grasses is that you can buy quite large, established plants with seed heads in flower or about to “pop” and plonk them straight into your borders for instant effect.

They will look fabulous immediately as well as instantly creating additional habitat for insects and caterpillars to shelter amongst. These insects will provide food for birds as well as some grass seed heads themselves and eventually, loose dried grass provides nesting material. Small mammals and hedgehogs will also have a place to hide and forage in for slugs and snails and spiders are able to spin webs between the blades of grass. Frogs only need ponds to breed in and actually spend much of their time on land requiring damp and dense plant habitat to live and feed amongst.

So, it’s not just nectar rich plants that are valuable to wildlife, beautiful ornamental grasses with their graceful sounds and seed heads have much to offer too.

Adam Frost will be looking at ornamental grasses tonight on Gardener's World on BBC 2 at 9pm. Perhaps something will catch your eye?

For further inspiration, see the RHS recommendations for their top ten autumn grasses.


The Flatford Wildlife Garden currently remains closed but re-opening details will be posted in advance on this blog and the main Flatford webpage. The Flatford team continue to encourage wildlife through their own gardening projects and very much look forward to sharing wildlife gardening experiences with you when we reopen.

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