Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Perennial Grasses For Impact

Blog topics (and the enclosed photos) like this keep me from remembering that it was -6 degrees F this morning with more blowing snow.  I don't mind the winter but am not a fan of winter driving or shoveling.  It looks like we'll continue to have some "dustings" through Wednesday and we'll tidy up the Holiday Lights Show (HLS) paths on Thursday.  I was warm and cozy inside though and continue to prepare for 2014.  I've sifted through five catalogs in between other tasks and am starting to finalize collection ideas for next  year.  Aside from our usual "eye candy annuals", I'll be adding plenty of perennials including ornamental perennial grasses like the 'Blonde Ambition' blue grama grass (Bouteloua gracilis) seen above with 'Vintage Wine' purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) and 'Little Spire' Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia).  I've included some of my favorites in this blog but keep in mind that there are countless other species and varieties.  Ornamental grasses shouldn't just be selected for winter interest as many also offer superior foliage color during the growing season, showy inflorescences (flower/seed head) and potentially fall color.  Know your grass features (and growing preferences) before planting but remember that a grass should offer multiple seasons of interest as specimens, focal points and role-players in other compositions.  Grass form (upright, arching, rounded, etc.) should be a consideration as well.  Grass needs will also include division at some point which can be quite involved for larger specimens.

Larry had some brief jobs to do out in the gardens (HLS adjustments) but came back to warm up quickly.  Dr. Gredler came in for more painting and Bill O. stopped by to help out here and there as well.  Janice was in to call and confirm our trailwalking volunteers for the HLS and she also worked on some projects for next year.  We had our monthly Garden Development & Maintenance Committee Meeting this morning and had some closure for 2013 while discussing thoughts for an exciting 2014 (our 25th Anniversary!).  Committee members in attendance included Maury, Dr. Gredler, Dick P., Hal R., Iza, Christine R. and Larry H.  It was a cold, quiet and productive day. Below are more grasses of potential interest...

'Mega Blue' big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii) - pinkish/orange fall color too!
'Red October' big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii) - in September
'Red Baron' Japanese blood grass (Imperata cylindrica) - spreads! (at Olbrich Botanical Garden - Madison, WI)
Korean feather reed grass (Calamagrostis brachytricha) in summer
Korean feather reed grass (Calamagrostis brachytricha) in late fall
'All Gold' Hakone grass (Hakonechloa macra)
'All Gold' Hakone grass (Hakonechloa macra)
'River Mist' variegated Northern sea oats (Chasmanthium latifolium)
'Bowles' Golden' sedge (Carex elata) - not a "true grass" but a relative good for damp, part shade
'Cheyenne Sky' switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) - late summer maroon highlights
Ruby Ribbons switchgrass (Panicum virgatum 'RR1') - late summer maroon highlights
'Gold Bar' dwarf porcupine grass (Miscanthus sinensis)
'Purpurascens' flame grass (Miscanthus sinensis) - fall color
'The Blues' little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium)
winter coloration of above ('The Blues')
Consider perennial grasses for the garden!

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