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Plants for fall/winter color

Posted by sparkler39 6 (My Page) on
Fri, Jul 11, 14 at 23:04

I have a small garden bed that runs parallel to the steps up to my front door. It's about 2' by 4' and sits about 5 feet below the main landing into the house. Currently there's a small Gulfstream nandina in front and I'm hoping to plant Shenandoah Switch grass in the back. That leaves a space in between the two for something. I'm hoping for a perennial that might have some orange or yellow foliage in the fall/winter to provide a little contrast from the red in the nandina and the grass. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Here is a link that might be useful: Home Blog


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Plants for fall/winter color

It doesn't provide the foliage color you requested but check out Hellebore/Lenten rose if you haven't already. I have nearly a dozen different cultivars and they're all spectacular winter bloom performers. Santa Rosa Gardens offers quite a number of different cultivars. I can't think of the name of it but I have one of theirs that blooms in a delicate shade of vanilla.

Word to the wise: they're extremely slow-growing but well worth the wait.


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RE: Plants for fall/winter color

Certainly not for Winter, the Amsonias sometimes have spectacular amber or golden foliage color through Fall.
They like Sun.
And, while nowhere near yellow or golden, Bergenias go through Winter with bronzy or reddish leaves that would not contrast in color but in texture.


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RE: Plants for fall/winter color

The mature size of Switchgrass is quite large. I don't think you really have room for much else once those both reach full size. The mature size of the nandina is 3ft. wide x 4ft high. The switchgrass is about the same if not larger when it gets plenty of water. I've seen some huge ones. Panicum 'Northwind' is more vertical, taller and has yellow fall color. Panicum 'Shenandoah' is more spreading at the top and will take more space horizontally.

If you have another spot close by, you could plant Yellow Twig Dogwood, Cornus stolonifera for yellow in winter.


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RE: Plants for fall/winter color

I agree - I don't think you will have all that much space left in this little bed for much else once your current plants mature.

My first thought was a dwarf yellow//gold chamaecyparis, but again, there probably isn't room.

How old are the current plantings?

Dee


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RE: Plants for fall/winter color

Just had another thought. It's not the color you are looking for, but there is a narrow upright holly called Sky Pencil. Still not sure there's enough room, but maybe you'd like something like this?

Dee

Here is a link that might be useful: sky pencil holly


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RE: Plants for fall/winter color

Thanks for the responses! The nandina is just a baby...less than 8 inches across. I didn't realize that the Shenandoah Switchgrass would get that big. I might need to look for a more compact (but tall) grass. I love the other suggestions though...more to research now! :)


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RE: Plants for fall/winter color

Pannicum 'Northwind' is the most vertical compact grass I have ever run across. It is stiffly vertical and stays upright in winter. The fall color is glorious. Mine are in full bloom, the tops glow. Here is a photo I grabbed from online showing fall color.


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RE: Plants for fall/winter color

Okay so our local nursery was having a 50% sale and we went to look at grasses and ended up coming home with a Japanese Bloodgrass 'Rubra' instead of the Shenandoah Switchgrass. I was also looking at the Ebony Night mondo grass...what an interesting color! So now, we've got the Nandina and the Bloodgrass which shouldn't get above 2 feet. So now I need something tall. They had some gorgeous Japanese maples but I know that's not enough space...will have to find some other spot for one!


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RE: Plants for fall/winter color

Be very cautious with Japanese Blood Grass 'rubra'. It was originally thought to be sterile but it easily reverts back to green form which is very invasive and can produce viable seed. Its a noxious weed which is illegal to transport to many states. Remove any growth that reverts back to the green form--Imperata cylindrica. Its listed as one of the 10 worst weeds in the world and reproduces vegetatively by way of rhizomes that branch easily and put up new plants and by seed. Its a problem grass with sharp leaves that covers billions of acres.

Here is a link that might be useful: http://www.mdinvasivesp.org/archived_invaders/archived_invaders_2010_09.html


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RE: Plants for fall/winter color

I am always amazed when nurseries sell invasive plants. I bought a european artemisia absinthe and when I got home I found that it was taking over acreage in the northern states and had naturalized down into Oklahoma, so far. I let it die in its pot. It was a 4" pot. It was a 60 mile round trip to get my money back and loss of time. I took the $3 loss and called it a day. There are so many other artemisias that aren't a hassle and even prettier.


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RE: Plants for fall/winter color

I'm glad Tex and Wantonamara broke the bad news about Japanese blood grass. On the Ornamental Grass forum there are many posts about this species.

If the OP bring herself to rethink this choice, my suggestion would be Little Bluestem (schizachyrium scoparium) which is very upright, grows up to about 40" in height (including flowers) by about a foot wide. It turns from a steely blue to glorious burgundy in fall. It's a tough native grass and can be grown from seed. There are named varieties, but the straight species is pretty darn great.

Cheryl

Here is a link that might be useful: little bluestem


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RE: Plants for fall/winter color

Little Bluestem would be my choice hands down except I really cannot say enough about how fabulous the Panicum 'Northwind' grass is.

Bluestem in summer......


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RE: Plants for fall/winter color

Bluestem in fall and winter.

Neat and vertical. It can be anywhere from pink, to red to purple in fall and thats not even counting those silvery seed heads that form in mid summer. Its native which is a plus & rapidly becoming one of the most popular grasses for gardens & mass plantings. Santa Rosa Gardens is completely sold out.


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RE: Plants for fall/winter color

Tex, I haven't seen Northwind, but I do have Heavy Metal which I got from Santa Rosa in May. Also Shenandoah. So I'm a switchgrass fan like you.

But little bluestem is such a great grass, I don't know why everyone doesn't grow it. Somehow it doesn't have the cachet that the panicums and miscanthuses have. But the landscape architects are discovering it so I expect to see a surge in popularity. Watch to see Santa Rosa stock up in bigger quantities next season.

Great pics!

Cheryl


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RE: Plants for fall/winter color

You could also consider different stonecrops. Gorgeous colors.. Or the taller reddish sedums, which have the side benefit of keeping their seed heads upright all winter.

Feather reed grass Karl Foerster creates upright, well behaved clumps.

Plain colorful garden mums. And I second the bergenia suggestion that was made by bogturtle.

Or some heaths and heathers, wonderful colors when I lived in a warmer zone.


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RE: Plants for fall/winter color

jadeite, I have 3 'Heavy Metal' and 6 'Northwind', my favorite by far is Northwind. It is olive green and unbelievably compact and the contrast of the golden seeds against the deep olive thick leaves is something else. They are like sculpture. Both are fully blooming. I love watching them sway in the breeze, I think the hypnotizing movement on them surpasses all other grasses. Up the street is a city planting that must have 200 or more of them planted. They are evenly spaced out on a huge mound that sits on a big corner with a life sized bronze statues of a buffalo and her calf in the middle. Around the perimeter is all Little Bluestem. Its fantastic and looks great year round. They are using these native grasses around the city more and more. I need to take some photos.


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RE: Plants for fall/winter color

Another panicum fan here....and enjoying the molinias too - especially a really great M.caerulea 'Edith Dudszus'

Looking forward to my new willows - Britzensis and Chermesina...and the bloomy purple S.daphnoides....along with the ever-popular cornus, alba

Reviving the white and ghostly rubus species, now I have
s p a c e


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RE: Plants for fall/winter color

I want to change my name to Edith Dudszus. Is it THAT orange in fall or was the photo hyped? I hear you have Sesleria autumnalis grass growing wild from one end of England to another. Is that true? I was checking out seeds sources, read it was a native there and people who load up on pots at the nursery must be blind because they are driving by it everyday.


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RE: Plants for fall/winter color

Thanks so much for all the info. The Japanese blood grass won't be going into the ground. I was wondering (I hate to kill plants) if it would be okay to plant it in a pot up on my deck and just cut off and discard the seed heads when they show up and/or toss it if it starts to go green. Is that right? I thought it might look nice in a pot with some mums in pots around it for the fall. But if it's that troublesome I'll just toss it now.

I ended up purchasing two bluestems and a pannicum northwind from our local nursery. Not sure which one I'll use in that spot but I've got room for the other two elsewhere. You all really sold me with the photos you posted. I can't wait to see how they turn out! :)


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RE: Plants for fall/winter color

I'm so glad you went for the 'Northwind', its a jaw dropper when mature. You will gets lots of compliments on it.


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RE: Plants for fall/winter color

um, not exactly, Tex. Our native moor grass, molinia caerulea, is one of the plant signifiers for specific soil geologies - it grows in acidic, sandy loam and is often found on the edges of conifer forest, heather moors such as Exmoor or the Pennine range and also in Breckland, local to us in Norfolk. We, however (Yair Wood), are directly on a geological boundary where the soil changes from acidic peaty carr soil, to sandy shelly loam, filtered through chalk bedrock....so no moor grass for us.

One of our native grasses much used in landscaping is a favourite of mine for its fluffy and airy delicacy - deschampsia caespitosa (hair grass). There is a specific cultivar, 'Tatra Gold', I am much besotted with. I also grow several species of stipa - anomathele lessoniana is a reliable autumnal bloomer and I would hope to never be without my all-time favourite grass - fabulous stipa gigantea (especially gorgeous when back-lit by sun).

As for autumn colouration - well, without that intense UV light and Texan sun, our autumn colours tend to have less of those brilliant reds and oranges and rather more golds and bronze colours - we also do not grow the many maples common to the east coast of the US and never get that glorious autumn colouring of New England say.............but on the other hand, we do green really well.
East Anglia is a peculiar place - still the only region of the UK lacking any motorway or even decent rail lines, it is the least populated and most isolated part of our crowded little island. Until recently, the fens were a waterworld of marsh, reedbeds and little islands. The first draining was started in the 16/17C and still continues. As the flora was dominated by alder carr, the cleared soils were deep, friable, fertile - the best soils in the UK in fact. Consequently, East Anglia is the epicentre of the cereal, potato, sugar beet and bulb industry - acres and acres of perfectly flat, huge fields with barely a tree....the only breaks on the horizon are power lines and pylons. After growing up in hill country, the fens were shocking beyond belief to me - malevolent, gloomy, brooding (famous for our watery mists) and I loathed the countryside on sight. Of course, that was 35 years ago and now, I love it intensely - the huge skies, the open fields with skylarks and fieldfares and the meres, rivers, estuaries, cuts, drains, fens, broads, dikes and other watery elements. All our water is in the ground though, as hardly any falls on us as precipitation....we have our own specific plant families, dominated by umbels, willows, sedges, willowherbs, phragmites and dactylis glomerata...


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RE: Plants for fall/winter color

I was a bit shocked by your comment, Tex. "... people who load up on pots at the nursery must be blind because they are driving by it everyday...." Even if Sesleria were native in the British Isles (and it isn't) there is no way anyone should ever, ever contemplate removing any plant from the wild, other than invasive aliens. Apart from its being illegal without the landowner's consent a huge proportion of our flora is under intense threat. Even common things can and do disappear fast.


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RE: Plants for fall/winter color

Floral uK, Grasses make seed and seed can be collected without harm.. I think that is what TXranger was saying. Seed collecting is a great pastime along the roadside. Native plant people do it all the time and yes there are rules and good manners to it. Take no more that 1/10th the seed of any plant or population for starters.

This post was edited by wantonamara on Mon, Jul 14, 14 at 15:33


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RE: Plants for fall/winter color

No need for alarm. It was just something I ran across online that a British guy had written under the header: "Plants to never buy and plants to only buy once because they naturalize". I wanted to know if it was as common as, for example, little bluestem is around here. It seemed odd to think of it growing wild in huge stands.

I was going to order it from Santa Rosa Gardens but they seem to be out so I started surfing to see if I could find another source for plants or seeds.

Thats all.

Just want to add that I have done a lot of collecting along roadsides. It is the only way to gather seeds on many species and none of these are even remotely endangered. The overwhelming number of people, including most who post on this forum do not have any interest in these plants and look down on them as too common or too aggressive for consideration in their gardens. I would also add that I do not plant alien species without so much as a google check like many other people across this country do and that 99% of the plants I grow still retain their natural ability to reproduce from seed unlike the sterile cultivars that are so popular in the nursery business.

I want to make it very clear, I am not referring to the OP in the above remarks.

This post was edited by TexasRanger10 on Mon, Jul 14, 14 at 16:10


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RE: Plants for fall/winter color

Campanula, I keep looking at the Deschampsia too. I need a grass for a mostly shaded area and that one popped up. The only drawback was I read it likes cooler climates and we are definitely not in that category and then the other thing is without sun I think the whole purpose would be lost since there would be no backlighting. I am also checking in to Juncus inflexus. Its drought hardy and will grow in shaded areas. Santa Rosa still has some and my order is all filled out, I just haven't finalized it yet.


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RE: Plants for fall/winter color

wonder if millium effusum aureum would do for you. It is an easy self-seeder for me and is not particularly long-lived but it does have that lime-y green sharp slash against a dark background, with tiny dainty flowers - dogs love to munch it though. Might be a bit wimpy for your hot climate but it is a good doer for me and I will let it run through the woods, along with, hopefully, hakone grass and carex. I like grasses, but I still want a definate flowering, so grasses and sedges which are mainly all about the leafage (uncinia, imperata, luzula, phalaris etc.) don't float my boat as much as pennisetums, stipas, miscanthus, chionochloa and such which have distinct flower heads.


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RE: Plants for fall/winter color

camp, I planted some leymus candescens rye grass (I think thats what it is) in the corner, the dirt keeps running downhill covering my gravel which makes me crazy. I found this grass growing in shade at a construction site and dug some up while the men were gabbing, me and my little handy shovel. The area was marked for destruction. It will take shade and forms thick tussocks that are actually attractive when separated from weeds etc. This is very dry shade but as it comes out further plants become more visible. Hakone Grass! Not in this dreadful spot. Its beautiful but I need function and something tough, preferably native since its such a challenging area. I was really falling for the Sesleria autumnalis for the yellow green I even tried the silver leymus 'Canyon Prince' one year, its looked like big dead spiders. I donated it to the neighbors yard and its forming a nice area of blue in their backyard in no mans land (needs weeding but I resist interfering). Probably come fall, I'll place an order with SRG. I promise not to come over there with my shovel and grocery sacks and I'll look up those other suggestions, light colored would definitely be welcome.

Here in the central US there are numerous ghosts towns or nearly ghost towns and empty roads you rarely see another car on, miles of grasses, abandoned fields, abandoned farms, old bridges, roads leading nowhere etc. You can make an entire activity visiting the abandoned past and not see a soul for miles all day long. People would think you were crazy if they saw you digging grasses, but I am sometimes crazy that way. I don't know what its like in Great Britain but here a person really can find treasures in the wild without feeling like an environmental abuser, in fact its easy to get lost in the overwhelming miles and miles of nothingness out in the middle of nowhere. I think sometimes we have a tendency to picture something altogether distorted when discussing subjects like plants in the wild. I've dug bluestem plants from the wild along with several other starts of plants. I never thought of it as a bad thing in certain situations and still don't, if you saw what I am talking about you'd laugh at the idea of causing harm. If you hired every person in the midwest and handed them a shovel to dig with, you'd hardly make a dent in a year's worth of digging, the very idea is ludicrous. Its other factors that are problems, like invasive plants for instance just to name one of many. I hardly think any harm is done moving a few small blue stem seedlings from a place out in "The Sticks" like Pond Creek or Lamont, Oklahoma where they are thick to another part of Oklahoma where they aren't currently growing constitutes wildlife or plant endangerment. Once upon a time they would have covered what is now my urban property and now they are growing and multiplying again, instead of a bermuda grass lawn which is hardly good for the environment.

I find I cannot hardly get a visual of England in my head, I imagine lots of green and places I see on PBS like "Upstairs Downstairs' or something like that, old cities, great buildings & abandoned monasteries from the reformation period. I am sure its a distortion of reality.

This post was edited by TexasRanger10 on Mon, Jul 14, 14 at 19:06


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RE: Plants for fall/winter color

Texas blue grass is getting some air time down here. It does take some shade and it is beautiful when it blooms , The first picture does not do it justice. I think it will do its thing in clay als. I am thinking of getting several plants. I saw some 4" pots at the nursery here in Austin. I also have Mexican wire grass choosing to come up in all day dappled shade

Here is a link that might be useful: Texas Blue grass


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