The grasses add valuable ornamental interest to the garden, including the oriental fountain grass, whose billowing form can be seen on the Systematic Beds.
One of 120 species of fountain grasses from tropical, sub-tropical and warm temperate regions, Pennisetum orientale originates from North Africa and south west Asia. Growing in moderately fertile, well-drained soil in full sun, this drought-tolerant species requires a warm, sheltered position in the garden. It is a mound-forming grass with arching linear leaves and spike-like panicles of bristled, pink spikelets, which have the appearance of soft bottle-brushes. These will persist through winter until the plant is cut down in late February or March. Reaching 60cm in height, P. orientale is a valuable addition to a mixed planting, where its arching habit and soft panicles add contrasting form and texture.