I first understood the special beauty of grasses when I came across their use in hot dry environments. This garden outside Marrakesh by Luciano Giubbilei is filled with graphic squares of fluffy Fountain Grass, which shimmer in the strong sunlight. I love this interplay between grasses and light and the absolute Queen of Light for me is Stipa Gigantea – known as Golden Oats.
Oriental grasses are pretty much bullet-proof as far as pests and diseases go. Few require special treatment or pampering to perform, so they should be near the top of the list of plants to use for anyone with limited time to lavish on their garden. Stipa gigantea is no different, providing it is planted in a sunny spot and in well-drained soil. Maintenance is straightforward: cut the flowering stems back to the main clump in spring and lightly trim the foliage if starts to look tatty.
Because it’s a plant of rough and rocky places there is no need to feed or fertilise S. gigantea and it doesn’t need watering either, even in the hottest of summers. In the right conditions the golden oat grass will bulk up quickly into a decent-sized clump, which can be lifted and divided every three to four years, from spring until early summer.