Ornamental grasses have come into their own since I started designing gardens ‘back in the day’, now there are dozens to choose from. These grasses are very easy to grow, just plant in average soils with added organic material.
Some Favourite Ornamental Grasses
using ornamental grasses in your garden
By Christopher Clayton, Toronto landscape architect / garden designer
Ornamental grasses have come into their own since I started designing gardens ‘back in the day’, now there are dozens to choose from. These grasses are very easy to grow, just plant in average soils with added organic material. For the first two years water regularly to establish their roots systems then reduce watering to only during prolonged drought. To maintain them, cut them back to 5 ~ 6 inches in the fall should experience show you that the grasses get pushed over by the snow, other wise leave them until spring before cutting back. One of the good features of ornamental grasses is their tall spiky seed heads waving in the winter’s light above the snow.
Here are a few favourites of mine.
Feather Reed Grass, Calamagrostis acutifolia stricta
A five foot high evergreen grass with bright green narrow leaves forming a strong vertical clump. Use them as either as an accent or in a narrow row in full sun for best results. The flowering seed heads are greenish bronze-pink. In winter the foliage turns gold, at the end of winter shear them to 5 ~ 6 inches.
Variegated Japanese Sedge, Carex morrowii;
A foot tall, low maintenance and drought tolerant upright grass like perennial with green leaves striped with creamy-white edges. It prefers semi-shade with northern or eastern sun exposure, moist or well watered conditions.
Hakone Grass or Japanese Forest Grass, Hakonchloa macra ‘Aureola’
An eighteen inch high beauty, with dense-low growing foliage. The yellow and green stripped leaves fall in one direction. It prefers partial sun exposure, is some what slow growing and blooms in mid-late summer.The foliage turns bronze or brown in fall and should be cut back to 5 ~ 6 inches in the spring
Japanese Blood Grass, Imperata cylindrica rubra ‘Red Baron’
An exotic looking 18 ~ 20 inch high blood red grass for sunny or partially shady spots. It needs regular moist growing conditions and mulch with good drainage to perform well. The upright clumps and dramatic red leaves make it a colourful accent perennial grass
Morning Light Maiden Grass, Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’,
At four feet high this grass is truly the best tall grass, especially on spring morning with dew on the very narrow green and silver edged leaves. Once established in one to two years it will survive quite nicely on rain water alone. The copper–pink flowers appear in late fall before the foliage turns beige. Like all the other ornamental grasses, it only needs spring pruning
Porcupine Maiden Grass Miscanthus sinensis strictus
This grass is one you just can’t take your eyes off. A five foot high dazzler, it captivates you with dark and light green cross banding on the leaves. a fantastic accent plant. It grows just like it’s siblingMorning Light Maiden Grass.
A dwarf form of Fountain Grass growing about a foot tall with seed heads reaching two feet its one of the best all purpose ornamental grasses available. It’s drought tolerant with the cream-purple seed heads lasting from December to May through the snow.
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Published in: Gardening