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Bracknell prairie - September to November


By AndrewR


The last blog left the prairie at the end of August

By mid September, new colours are appearing, notably from solidago rugosa (which has not remained upright as I had hoped), and aster amellus ‘Veilchenkonigin’. The knautia is still in flower after three months as a result of being deadheaded every few days (which is cheating as the whole ethos of prairie planting is not to deadhead) as well a white form of our native field scaious, knautia arvensis. The grasses are coming to the fore now, and colchicum autumnale, already in this bed, is making an appearance

At the end of the month, the asters are in bloom (there are some short ones on the far side of the bed). The tall mauve one is self sown but I may replace it with a better coloured one. Acanthus sennii with red flowers and colchicum ‘Waterlily’ were already in the bed. I have had to support the tall solidago so it may need to be replaced by a shorter, self-supporting variety

The colour is starting to fade as October starts to gather pace, but the nerines are just opening beside the drive

By the end of the month, the grasses are becoming the dominant plants and autumn tints are starting to creep in. There are one or two gaps showing where additional plants can be added for next year

We are now into mid November, practically all colour has gone, and the grasses are standing out. But I think I need a lot more of them to get the full prairie effect

Finally, by the end of the month, we are left almost exclusively with browns and greys. Now, the seedheads of pennisetum alopeculoides ‘Hameln’ really stand out against the rest of the plants

For its first year, I am more than happy with the way this has turned out. I have put in lots of bulbs for next spring, and this series of photos will help me to tweak the planting for subsequent years. The whole bed will be cut down in January and will start all over again.

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I love it! The way it's changed through the months is so good.
I like the Pennisetum alopeculoides ‘Hameln’. :-)
Funnily enough I was watching a video today of a prairie garden in Ireland and the first thing they referred to was the Solidago, the video was taken in August and they had cut their Solidago down a bit, 6 weeks earlier so that it didn't get too tall and flop, it was perfect.

30 Nov, 2019


Hasn't it matured well! Its interesting to see a garden through the seasons.

30 Nov, 2019



2 Dec, 2019


A really nice selection of plants / grasses .....

2 Dec, 2019


I too love it.
Each month it has looked lovely, offering you something new.
A definite success!

3 Dec, 2019


Its great Andrew. My major concern was winter interest, or the lack of it. But the last pic shows I was very wrong. Its a huge success. You've done a great job there.

3 Dec, 2019


Thanks Karen. It does need a lot more grasses though for winter interest. I think the recommendation is 70% grass and 30% ornamentals and I can see why now

3 Dec, 2019


Yes, I can see why too. Sadly most of the nice grasses don’t like Scotland. I mean...we can grow grasses...but not the ones I like. Festuca glauca is miserable, Uncinia too. And Pennisetums don’t like it either. I think some Miscanthus are ok. But not libertia. The longer I live up here, the keener I am on Conifers and Heathers! Lol!

4 Dec, 2019


Pennisetum doesn't like sitting in cold, wet soil during the winter. Have you tried stipa? S. tenuissima would look good in a windy spot, but I find I need to cut it back mid summer to stop it sprawling over nearby plants. I've grown S. elegantissima from seed but haven't planted it out yet

4 Dec, 2019


THanks Andrew...yes, Stipa ten. grows well here...rather too well...seeding everywhere. I have more or less given up on grasses now. I still have a few, but the only one I really love is my Hakonechloea.

4 Dec, 2019

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