Fall in Love with Grasses
It’s no wonder ornamental grasses have become so popular in the past few years. They are low maintenance, great for hedges and privacy plantings and do well in containers. They attract birds for seeds and nesting, and they add texture as well as fall color. You can tuck a few into existing borders or perennial beds, plant en masse for a big wow and display them in a vase. Here are some ideas for planting gorgeous grasses.
Low-growing varieties, like sedge, can create an attractive edging in a perennial border or tucked into a rock garden. Try ‘Bowles’ golden sedge with its striking yellow foliage. ‘Sparkler’ has brilliant green and white foliage and an interesting shape, sort of like mini palm trees. ‘Fox Red’ curly sedge has clumps of red-bronze foliage that fades to flax at the tips. Or you might love the silvery green, very narrow, curving leaf blades of ‘Frosty Curls’ that give the illusion of flowing water when planted on hillsides or allowed to spill over a wall.
Taller grasses can make wonderful hedges or privacy plantings. ‘Morning Light’ maiden grass will reach 6 feet tall, and its green and creamy white blades create a shimmering silvery look. ‘Porcupine’ grass has a nice upright habit and green blades with horizontal yellow striping. ‘Adagio’ maiden grass is a real stunner with silvery green, arching foliage that turns orange, gold and burgundy in the fall. In late summer through winter, it is covered in plumes of bronzy pink that fade to white.
Feather reed grasses add a nice vertical element to the garden. Their strong, colorful stalks work well in cut-flower arrangements. ‘Overdam’ has feathery blooms that emerge reddish brown in summer and turn golden in fall. Its seeds attract flocks of birds, but the seeds are sterile and won’t set unwanted seedlings. ‘Karl Foerster’ blooms earlier and longer than most varieties, emerging reddish brown in spring and turning golden in the fall. ‘Korean’ has especially showy, feathery pink flower plumes.
In the Zen
Ornamental grasses have a nice way of softening hardscape and work well adjacent to swimming pools, ponds, walkways and garden sculpture. Japanese forest grass has a clumping shape, and its feathery foliage has a bamboo-like appearance, making it ideal to incorporate into an Asian garden. Try the vibrant ‘All Gold.’ Its stunning yellow-gold color will brighten a shady spot. ‘Fubuki,’ which means “snowstorm” in Japanese, has snow white and green variegated foliage that gets pretty pink and rose tones in the fall.