Published: 16 July 2014
New grass smokes and smoulders in the sun
Pennisetum ‘Dark Desire’ is the latest release from Knoll Gardens, the UK’s leading ornamental grass specialist

Launched to coincide with the end of Chelsea Flower Show, ‘Dark Desire’ is a new fountain grass with bright green foliage. It has been named for its freely-produced, rather large, bottlebrush-like flowers. Initially red-tinged, these quickly take on purplish to almost black tones that can seem to smoke and smoulder in the morning or evening sun. Its release, part of an on-going programme to select plants well-suited to the UK climate, marks the beginning of Neil Lucas’s 20th anniversary celebrations at Knoll Gardens.

“There are many fountain grasses, and all are beautiful”, said Neil. “Their fluffy caterpillar-like flowers seem to explode from the foliage in an enthusiastic fountain of flower from mid-summer onwards, but as they originate in warmer climes they have tended not to flower reliably in our damper weather and only a comparatively small selection has been grown successfully here in the UK. We have selected Pennisetum 'Dark Desire' from the species Pennisetum alopecuroides because it has no such inhibitions. It produces masses of flowers from high summer onwards and we believe it will be a wonderful new addition to the palette of fountain grasses we can use to great effect in our gardens.

“We have watched ‘Dark Desire’ perform over a number of years as we have trialled it on our nursery and in the garden at Knoll and it really does have the most amazing, large purplish black bottlebrush flowers. In the newly extended gravel garden we have backed it with the vivid purple Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’ – with stunning results”.
Pennisetum ‘Dark Desire’ will revel in sunny, dry, well-drained conditions, growing to a height and width of around 90cm. A perfect match for sunny dry areas, containers and roof gardens it associates easily with many other sun-loving perennials, is long-lived and very easy to maintain. It costs £8.00 for a 2 litre pot. For more information visit or call the nursery on 01202 873931.
Information and images supplied by Knoll Gardens
Reported by Chris Allen  

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