About this cultivar:
Cortaderia selloana 'Sunningdale Silver'is a robust, evergreen grass forming a clump of arching, narrow, dark green leaves up to 1.4m in length. Long, silky, creamy-white flower heads borne on stems to 2.2m in height in summer. I presume it was introduced by Sunningdale Nurseries, since there are quite a few other plants with 'Sunningdale' in the name. But I can't find where it is? There seems to be a few nurseries and places with this name! I suspect it is somewhere in Cornwall. It was awarded the RHS AGM in 1993.
- Position: Full sun, partial shade
- Soil: Almost any soil, grows well in Ballyrobert
- Flowers: August, September (flower heads keep structure throughout winter)
- Other features: Grows well in Ballyrobert, Royal Horticultural Society Award of Garden Merit (RHS AGM)
- Hardiness: H6 - Hardy in all of UK and northern Europe (-20 to -15°C), Fully hardy - grows well in Ballyrobert!
- Habit: Tufted, Clump forming
- Foliage: Evergreen
- Height: 150 - 250 cm (5 - 8 ft)
- Spread: 100 - 150 cm (3.3 - 5 ft)
- Time to full growth: 5 to 10 years
- Plant type: Grass like
- Colour: White, yellow, green
Goes well with: Shrubs and small trees like Ilex (Holly), Acer (Maple) and Cornus (Dogwood), but we also pair it with 'prairie' plants like Rudbeckia and other grasses.
About this genus:
Cortaderia is a genus of grasses in the true-grass family (Poaceae) that contains almost 30 species. The name is derived from the Spanish word "corta", meaning "cut". This term refers to the leaves which have finely serrated edges that can easily cut through human skin. Cortaderia species often have an attractive arching habit and tall feathery flower heads. The central prairie region of Argentina is called the pampas region and one of the primary plants of this area is Cortaderia, hence the common name pampas grass (which strictly speaking only belongs to the selloana species).
Books will say "Like most prairie plants, Cortaderia prefers full sun and well-drained soil. " Well, the ones we sell grow perfectly well here in wet clay at Ballyrobert; we have photographic evidence! Cortaderia is often a large plant and needs a large spot in the garden. It pairs well with other substantial plants such as shrubs and small trees like Ilex (Holly), Acer (Maple) and Cornus (Dogwood), but we also pair it with 'prairie'plants like Rudbeckia and other grasses.
If you ask me, this also looks great by the sea (check out the famous Mount Stewart gadrens in County Down). The large flower heads look like sails or flags blowing int he wind. Very nautical!