How many times have you read this - "If your Pampas Grass becomes overgrown and unsightly, set fire to it."
And how many times have you shrieked "Are you mad??!" at the book. Or, these days, at the screen.
It's one of those many items of "received wisdom" that exist in the horticultural world - things that "have always been done" or "we have always been told", many of which are not necessarily true.
However, in this case, I am pleased to report that I have first hand experience of this situation. One of my clients has a lovely clump of Pampas, and each year in winter we rake it through, pull out all the dead stuff, pull out any sections which have died, and dig out any areas that are spreading too far. It's a horrible job, as the leaves are razor-edged, and we both end up with our hair on end, any number of small cuts on our arms, and our clothes all pulled about.
Every year, my client tells me that when she had one of these at her previous house (on a somewhat larger scale than the current garden), she used to set fire to it every other year or so. Every year, I raise my eyebrows. Last spring, she did it: I arrived as usual on a Tuesday afternoon to be greeted with the burned-out brown husk in the first photo.
Screams of horror! But a few short weeks later, from the same angle, it was showing signs of regrowth, as per the second photo.
And by the end of the summer, it had completely recovered: and as you can see from the third photo, which was taken from the other side, it had flowered.
So there you go, it's true: you can indeed set fire to Pampas Grass clump: and if you are thinking that it is time to get outside and clean up your clump, and if you are dreading doing it, perhaps you could think about waiting until late winter, and having a go at burning it instead!
Now here's the small print - they blaze up like nothing on earth, so don't do it if there are overhanging trees or phone wires: always have the hosepipe connected and ready nearby, in case it gets carried away, and poke around inside the clump beforehand, in case there is any livestock living within.
Choose a still day, not a windy day: and do it early in the year, before the grass has formed shoots for the coming season.
When the fire dies down, rake out all the dead and burned stuff: partly to clear the ground, and partly to ensure that the fire is completely out.
So there you have it - Pampas Grass can indeed be rejuvenated by fire!