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Add Oriental magic to your garden

PUBLISHED: 12:17 03 January 2017 | UPDATED: 13:09 03 January 2017

Chinese silver grass (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Chinese silver grass (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

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Grasses make a beautiful feature in the garden all-year, says Judy Shardlow

Tall grasses like Chinese silver grass (Miscanthus sinensis, above) are a great feature in the garden. Upright green foliage makes a dramatic architectural feature in summer and turns to silvery straw in winter, catching the low light of winter days and sparkles of frost. Miscanthus is a clump-forming grass which grows to around 1.2m and individual plants can become large and dense (like ourselves over Christmas), so January is a good time to get it back in shape (also like us).

Dividing the plant effectively thins the foliage and maintains its beautiful airiness. It also allows it to be planted alongside other tall perennials like Verbena bonariensis. Division is easy – cut the foliage of each clump of grass back to five centimetres from the base. Dig up the plant and then divide it into sections with a pruning saw or spade to create separate plants of a size that suits the space. Then replant one of the divided clumps. The rest can be potted up and gifted to gardening friends or used to populate other areas of your garden in a sunny spot.

Fresh green growth from the divided plant will start coming through in February. Give it a scattered handful of pelleted chicken manure around the base to give it a kick- start of nitrogen for the coming year.

Five things to do in the garden this month

Garden away winter blues

In milder weather, there are plenty of garden jobs to be done including mulching borders, pruning wisteria and dividing grasses and perennials. An hour in the garden is good for your mental health.

Treat tools

Use this quiet time of year to clean, sharpen and organise your gardening tools. Good-quality tools will last a lifetime if properly cared for.

Plant colour

Hellebore hybrids ‘Penny’s Pink’ and ‘Anna’s Red’ are relatively recent hybrids and a must-have for the winter garden.

Care for heather

Heather is another great plant for winter colour. Enjoy it now and trim it lightly after flowering to keep it compact.

Cut back Cornus

Cornus stems (dogwoods) can be cut back now. Bring cut stems indoors, put in a vase of water and watch them burst into leaf for a bit of early spring green.

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