plant geeks only: ornamental grasses

So about my garden style. It could be construed as slightly schizophrenic. I’ve analyzed the plants I’ve chosen and here are the major categories I see: Asian, tropicalesque, desert/rock garden/xeriscape, big drama, chartreuse foliage, blackish-burgundy foliage, blue foliage, plants with great architecture, amazing fall color, plants for birds/bees/butterflies and conifers.

How the heck am I going to make it all make sense, since you can see almost our entire garden from one spot — at least until it’s established? Ornamental grasses. They’re a no-brainer. There are shade varieties, sun varieties, damp and dry varieties. Some have plumes, some have panicles. Some upright, some blousey. They come in all sizes and colors. Are pretty low maintenance. And best of all: they blow in the breeze.

Here are the grasses I have going in the ground, in no particular order — 21 flavors so far:

Fargesia sp. ‘Rufa’ (cold-hardy Clumping Bamboo)…

fargesia sp. ‘rufa’, photo: Noah Bell | bamboogarden.com

fargesia sp. ‘rufa’, photo: Noah Bell | bamboogarden.com

Sasa veitchii ‘Kuma Zasa’ (Kuma Bamboo)…

sasa veitchii ‘kuma zasa’ | jmbamboo.com

sasa veitchii ‘kuma zasa’ | jmbamboo.com

Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’ (Japanese Forest Grass)…

hakonechloa macra ‘aureola’ | rainyside.com

hakonechloa macra ‘aureola’ | rainyside.com

Hakonechloa macra ‘All Gold’ (Japanese Forest Grass)…

hakonechola macra ‘all gold’ | awaytogarden.com

hakonechola macra ‘all gold’ | awaytogarden.com

Hakonechloa macra ‘Beni Kaze’ (Japanese Forest Grass)…

hakonechloa macra ‘beni kaze’ | heronswood.com

hakonechloa macra ‘beni kaze’ | heronswood.com

Chasmanthium latifolium (Northern Sea Oats)…

chasmanthium latifolium | northcreeknurseries.com

chasmanthium latifolium | northcreeknurseries.com

Carex appalachica (Appalachian Sedge)…

carex appalachica | northcreeknurseries.com

carex appalachica | northcreeknurseries.com

Carex flacca ‘Blue Zinger’ (Blue Zinger Sedge)…

carex flacca ‘blue zinger’ | northcreeknurseries.com

carex flacca ‘blue zinger’ | northcreeknurseries.com

Helictotrichon sempervirens ‘Saphirsprudel’ (Blue Sapphire Fountain Grass)…

helictotrichon sempervirens 'saphirsprudel' | westonnurseries.com

helictotrichon sempervirens 'saphirsprudel' | westonnurseries.com

Miscanthus sinensus ‘Rotsilber’ (Red-Silver Japanese Silver Grass)…

miscanthus sinensis ‘rotsilber’ | perennials.com

miscanthus sinensis ‘rotsilber’ | perennials.com

Schizachyrium scoparium ‘The Blues’ (Little Bluestem)…

schizachyrium scoparium ‘the blues’ | abnativeplants.com

schizachyrium scoparium ‘the blues’ | abnativeplants.com

Panicum virgatum ‘Shenandoah’ (Shenadoah Switch Grass)…

panicum virgatum ‘shenandoah’ | northcreeknurseries.com

panicum virgatum ‘shenandoah’ | northcreeknurseries.com

Panicum virgatum ‘Heavy Metal’ (Blue Switch Grass)…

panicum virgatum ‘heavy metal’ | northcreeknurseries.com

panicum virgatum ‘heavy metal’ | northcreeknurseries.com

Panicum virgatum ‘Dallas Blues’ (Dallas Blue Switch Grass)…

panicum virgatum ‘dallas blues’ | highcountrygardens.com

panicum virgatum ‘dallas blues’ | highcountrygardens.com

Panicum virgatum ‘Ruby Ribbons’ (Ribbons Switch Grass)…

panicum virgatum ‘ruby ribbons’ | plantdelights.com

panicum virgatum ‘ruby ribbons’ | plantdelights.com

Miscanthus sinensis v. purpurascens (Flame Grass)…

miscanthus sinensis ‘purpurascens’ | bluestem.ca

miscanthus sinensis ‘purpurascens’ | bluestem.ca

Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Avalanche’ (Variegated Feather Reed Grass)…

calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘avalanche’ | bluestem.ca

calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘avalanche’ | bluestem.ca

Elymus arenarius ‘Blue Dune’ (Blue Lyme Grass)…

elymus arenarius ‘blue dune’ | northcreeknurseries.com

elymus arenarius ‘blue dune’ | northcreeknurseries.com

Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Hameln’ (Dwarf Fountain Grass)…

pennisetum alopecuroides ‘hameln’ | bluestem.ca

pennisetum alopecuroides ‘hameln’ | bluestem.ca

Festuca glauca ‘Elijah Blue’ (Blue Fescue)…

festuca glauca ‘elijah blue’ | gatewaygardens.com

festuca glauca ‘elijah blue’ | gatewaygardens.com

Stipa Gigantea (Giant Feather Grass)…

stipa gigantea | casarocca.com

stipa gigantea | casarocca.com

Every one of the ornamental grasses above, whether I’ve had it waiting in a pot or bought it new to fill out the garden, are perennial. At least here in Zone 5.

The great part about grass is how easy it is to make MORE OF IT. Take Japanese Forest Grass  — late last summer I sliced my single clump in half. When spring came, I had two large clumps. I sliced those two into fourths and those eight clumps are already big! Btw, just saw that same forest grass at a local nursery for $25 a container. Talk about easy math.

Will share more plants in other categories in the days ahead. You can hardly wait, right? Right?


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