Festuca means stalk or stem in Latin, which accounts for its tufted, grass-like appearance. This also makes it an attractive and low maintenance addition to a garden.

Fescues are found throughout the world, with Australia boasting 9 native species, along with 4 exotic species which have become naturalised. Their flowers can range from insignificant to prominent plumes that create a classic mist-like aura around the plant. The foliage can be gold, green or blue/grey, depending on the variety.

They are best grown in full sun, although they can handle some shade. In our climate, too much shade during the warm wet months may result in the plant rotting.

Festuca glauca or Blue Mountain Grass is one of the most common ornamental forms with its distinctive 30cm high mound. This gorgeous grass is popular in contemporary landscaping either as a mass planting surrounded by feature pebbles or in contrast with grasses of other colours such as Pennistum setaceum (Red Fountain Grass).

Keeping your fescues looking their best is a simple task. Like many ornamental grasses, when your plantings start to look a bit tatty just give them a hair cut and they will bounce back all bright eyed and bushy tailed.

Propagation of some species can be by seed, though for the home gardener, dividing the clumps in spring just as the new season’s growth is kicking is an easy way to provide many new specimens quickly. Trim the blades back to about 70mm and set into potting mix in a small pot or 50mm tube. Don’t forget to fertilise. Keep them well watered, then in 4 – 6 weeks you should see new shoots appearing out of the top and fine hairs creeping out of the base of the pot. They are now ready for planting.

Because some species are classified as weeds, care should be taken if you collect your own seeds from the bush.