Plant of the Day

Monday 5 December 2016

The haze of Deschampsia cespitosa ‘Goldtau’ (tufted hair grass) flower heads contrast with the blocks of trimmed Taxus baccata (yew). This cultivar is smaller-growing than some of the other Deschampsia cespitosa selections. It has dark green leaves ageing to golden brown with silvery brown flower heads, turning a warm gold as they mature.

Jill Raggett


Plant of the Day

Tuesday 19 May 2015

Deschampsia cespitosa (tufted hair grass, tussock grass) adds airy movement, fluidity and a transparent layer to some of the gardens at the RHS Chelsea Show, London. This evergreen grass forms neat mounds of narrow, dark green leaves up to 60cm long, with feathery panicles of silvery-purple flowers in summer. It was being used to good effect in many of the Show gardens.

Jill Raggett



The Antarctic Peninsula region is the most northerly part of Antarctica and therefore the climate in summer is quite temperate compared to rest of the continent. This makes it one the richest places for plant-life. Everyone venturing ashore has to be diligent to check that their clothes and boots have no traces of organic material such as soil or seeds. There are strict environmental protection protocols in place to ensure no ‘alien’ plant species are inadvertently introduced.

The Peninsula is home to many of unique and fragile, lichen, moss, algae, liverwort and grass species. The lichens here grow 1cm every 100 years.

Millions of years ago when Antarctica was part of the super continent Gondwanaland the land was covered in dense and diverse rainforest. Nowadays there are only two flowering plant species living on the entire Antarctic continent. The grass pictured is one of these flowering species, Antarctic Hair Grass (Deschampsia antarctica). We had to climb and search carefully to find the tiny clump of grass clinging to and sheltering in the crack of the rocks. I have never been so awe-stricken by the sight of blades of grass. Finding these tiny patches of green were a true highlight of the expedition.