Quaking grass dances and looks golden in the sun – and growing it is a breeze

One of our prettiest native grasses self-seeds effortlessly – and watching it quiver in a vast meadow is a joy

On a recent visit to Hampshire, I was so taken by seeing so many wild orchids in one place – the marsh fragrant, the pyramidal, the early marsh, and the common twayblade – that I almost missed the grasses. And dancing between them all was the quaking grass, Briza media, its tiny spikelets quivering in the wind.

This has to be one of our prettiest native grasses. It loves unimproved, species-rich grasslands and old meadows, and is such a slight thing it would easily be out-competed by more coarse species of rank grassland. These sorts of low-growing, sparse grasslands with diverse species have had some of the greatest declines in habitats; they now make up less than 1% of land in the UK.

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