Return to the Perennials Forum | Post a Follow-Up

 o
Have you used Ornamental Grasses successfully?

Posted by prairiemoon2 zone 6a/MA (My Page) on
Sun, Aug 25, 13 at 6:44

I love Ornamental Grasses but so far, I've only used Pennisetum 'Hamelin' successfully. I have been slow to try others. I anticipate the work of moving them to be more than I want to cope with, so I've wanted to be sure when I use them, I won't want to move them. (g)

So, I would love to see your garden using ornamental grasses!


Follow-Up Postings:

 o
RE: Have you used Ornamental Grasses successfully?

  • Posted by mxk3 z5b/6 MI (My Page) on
    Sun, Aug 25, 13 at 11:43

Absolutely! Tall, dense ones make great screens. I have a stand of three full-size zebra grass blocking the view from the street to my patio - I get a lot of compliments on the zebra grass. I have a shorter variety of zebra grass called "Porcupine" that helps hide the view of my air conditioning unit.

I also have a small drift of "Hamelin" in the front of my house, not for screening, as its shorter, but because I like it and I think it looks nice. :0)

This is an older pic, the bed looks a bit different now, but "Porcupine" and the hydrangea have stayed. "Porcupine" really diverts the eye from the AC unit behind the hydrangea.

August 2010 photo IMG_0085.jpg

More older pics, but again the tall zebra grass has stayed; this is the view from the street - as you can see, blocks the view of my patio from passerby:
September 2008 photo DSCN0037.jpg

Same area as above, as viewed from other side (patio is to the right facing the grasses, not seen in this shot):
September 2008 photo DSCN0036.jpg


 o
RE: Have you used Ornamental Grasses successfully?

Awesome plant and pic mxk3.

-PM2, I how you feel about the using ornamental grasses 'successfully' in the garden. For me it was a matter of acknowledging the fact that I don't have a tidy garden and realizing plain green-leafed ornamental grasses would end up looking a tad weedy. I would LOVE to be able to use other types of green foliage grasses, but know there are just certain times of the year I don't have the garden looking its best and it might end up looking like a pile o' weeds, LOL.

So for the most part I've stuck with grasses that are variegated or blue. They stand out against the weeds and chaos, lol. Earlier this summer I ripped out an 'Elijah Blue' Fescue. I liked the color and what I had combo-ed around it, but those plants tend to look U.G.L.Y. when they get older. Then awhile back I also bought a Variegated Arundo donax for a corner that needed height. I'm excited to see what it looks like next year- my purple smoke bush is behind it and it might be a fun combo. I have two that aren't variegated (Calamagrostis brachytricha & Pennisetum 'Karley Rose') and I'm sorry to say that they, gorgeous though they may be, are looking out of place!

Here are a few shots...

Blue Oat Grass by the back patio and shade garden. I like that it adds texture and height here, but is loose enough not to block any views of the garden beyond
blue oat grass and surrounding plants photo bluegrassplants.jpg

Variegated Ribbon Grass- under a maple tree where little else will survive. First pic was from a couple years ago when I had a 'Fireball' Geum there. Second is from this spring when my 'Moned' flowering quince bloomed
Geum 'Fireball' & ribbongrass photo 111GeumFireballribbongrass.jpg

Flowering Quince and variegated Ribbon Grass photo DSCN5959.jpg

Golden Hakone grass in the shade garden
Sep 18 shade garden plants photo shadegardenplants.jpg

This pic was from last year...you can see the 'Overdam' Calamagrostis behind the branch obelisk
Sep 18 fall plants photo fallplants.jpg
CMK


 o
RE: Have you used Ornamental Grasses successfully?

Beautiful pictures! They really show some good examples of grass in the garden.


 o
RE: Have you used Ornamental Grasses successfully?

mck3 - what buddleia is that in your first picture? Is it small because it's newly-planted, or is it a small variety? If it's a small variety, do the butterflies like it?

Both of you posted beautiful pictures!


 o
RE: Have you used Ornamental Grasses successfully?

  • Posted by mxk3 z5b/6 MI (My Page) on
    Sun, Aug 25, 13 at 14:12

Ruth: That is "Peacock" butterfly bush. It is a shorter variety (but not a dwarf variety) and is a bit on the small side since it was it's first summer in my yard when that pic was taken. It has since been moved.


 o
RE: Have you used Ornamental Grasses successfully?

Ruth - I just saw Peacock on the Lazyssfarm.com site.


 o
RE: Have you used Ornamental Grasses successfully?

Yep! Started out with P. alopecuroides 'Hameln' and am loving it so far. I did divide it a few years ago with the help of some friends--took three of us with an axe & lots of sweat & determination. I offered them divisions of it in exchange for the muscle power. I have divisions planted at either end of my granite garden bench for textural contrast.

Next I added Calamagrostis/feather reed grass 'Karl Foerster' to my full-sun butterfly bed. I love its elegant, upright form & the tall plumes sway gently when there's a breeze. Because of my landscape design & small house, I don't grow any of the taller OGs.

Next I planted Carex/Japanese sedge 'Ice Dance' in my full-shade hosta bed. I divided it and have replanted the divisions in other beds where they get varying amounts of sun. The photo shows I originally planned the edging for this bed to be alternating Japanese sedge & Lady's mantle but the sedge has since definitely decided to take over.


 o
RE: Have you used Ornamental Grasses successfully?

I think my favorite is Karl Foerster, it looks great here for 10 months of the year and neat for the other two when I cut it back.... you have to like the wheat field look though :)


 o
RE: Have you used Ornamental Grasses successfully?

In the same bed is some Karley Rose. It's a little floppy IMO but looks good for most of the summer and fall.... then melts after the first freeze. This part of the bed is a little bit of a mess and needs deadheading.. but I'd rather take pictures than work.
At the end of the border is some Arundo Donax. You don't want that. It's a good 9 feet tall and climbing, with roots a good two inches thick... I've grown attached.


 o
RE: Have you used Ornamental Grasses successfully?

delete post

This post was edited by GreatPlains1 on Wed, Sep 4, 13 at 1:40


 o
RE: Have you used Ornamental Grasses successfully?

delete post

This post was edited by GreatPlains1 on Wed, Sep 4, 13 at 1:41


 o
RE: Have you used Ornamental Grasses successfully?

delete post

This post was edited by GreatPlains1 on Wed, Sep 4, 13 at 1:42


 o
RE: Have you used Ornamental Grasses successfully?

delete post

This post was edited by GreatPlains1 on Wed, Sep 4, 13 at 1:44


 o
RE: Have you used Ornamental Grasses successfully?

delete post

This post was edited by GreatPlains1 on Wed, Sep 4, 13 at 1:47


 o
RE: Have you used Ornamental Grasses successfully?

delete post

This post was edited by GreatPlains1 on Wed, Sep 4, 13 at 1:48


 o
RE: Have you used Ornamental Grasses successfully?

delete post

This post was edited by GreatPlains1 on Wed, Sep 4, 13 at 1:49


 o
RE: Have you used Ornamental Grasses successfully?

P.S. Prairiemoon. I have dug and moved and/or tossed out lots of grasses. Unless its some big monster like an old huge Miscanthus, Ravenne Grass or those aggressive types with underground runners like Lyme Grass its not a big deal. Its better to move a younger smaller clump though because a big established clump takes so long to reestablish its often not worth doing. I dug out and rearranged lots of clumps this spring and it wasn't that hard. Grasses are more difficult to visualize than perennials for me so I have moved and changed plenty of them. Grasses are very forgiving and if its reasonable in size, they move very easily.


 o
RE: Have you used Ornamental Grasses successfully?

The totally frugal gardener is a good phrase. I tell people I garden on the cheap, traded seeds and traded plants, shared treasures, repurposed items, gifts, etc. Though I would love to have stone pathways I make do with grass or mulched paths. Beds are shovel edged rather than the metal edging I find attractive. I love the look of the flat stone walls. Field stone walls just don't do it for me. I water with hoses while appreciating the effort saved with my neighbor's new in ground watering system. I always have more time than money so it is do it myself with what I have, can scrounge, or make.

Back to the topic: I also find some of the grasses along the roads lovely. Unfortunately I am never in the area when the seed heads are ripe.

Sporabolis makes a nice draping mound that I like to place at corners of a bed. Little Bluestem, often planted along roadsides by hwy departments, has nice summer and fall color. Love Japanese forest grass 'Aureola', gorgeous and grows in shaded area even with maple tree root competition. Miscanthus 'purpurascens' has great fall color and nice silvery plumes and grows anywhere for me. Molina windspiele gets better every year with its thin panicles waving in the breeze. Hamelin while lovely self seeded all over my lawn so it got discarded. Two years later I am still pulling its seedlings from the lawn. I loved, loved Ice Dance sedge as it was evergreen, short and cute but lost it all last winter and haven't found replacements. Must have gotten it from a swap. Got an unnamed large miscanthus at a plant swap which has silvery plumes that lasted throughout the winter. Had to move it as the clump needed more space to expand. In my yard few grasses are still standing after a heavy snowfall. Blue oat grass is lovely but more often than not gets eaten to the ground by rabbits. Can't add anything else to.the well known virtues of the KF and Overdam.

The one word to remember for most grasses is sun. Lots and lots of sun


 o
RE: Have you used Ornamental Grasses successfully?

mxk3, that zebra grass really can block a view…quite dense and tall! And I like how you paired it with, is that a rugosa rose? I have that ‘Peacock’ but I need to move mine too.

CMK, that Blue Oat Grass is so ‘airy’ and light. I see what you mean that it allows you to see through to the back of the garden. Is that an ‘all season’ grass?

Your ribbon grass looks great with both that geum and that pretty red flowering…? Is it quince? Does that grass travel?

Photo #4, is such a nice blend of colors and texture. I’m not usually that interested in Hakone, but that shot has me rethinking it. Which variety of golden hosta is that and is that the name of that grass, ‘Golden Hakone’? Is it in full shade?

Gardenweed, what a job to divide that ‘Hamelin’. I haven’t divided mine at all. I leave it in place and cut out the middle when it starts looking sparse. I get extra plants from seedlings. Thanks for that photo of ‘Ice Dance’. I always enjoy variegation especially in the shade.

kato, that Karl Forester looks great with that… Agastache? What variety of agastache is it? It’s so full. That Arundo Donax….9ft, that is huge! No, I guess I wouldn’t want to dig that out…lol.

GP1, Funny you should mention it, but one of the grasses I’ve been very tempted to buy is that Bouteloua gracilis ‘Blonde Ambition’ from High Country Gardens. Same grass, right?

That is a very pretty view, is that your back garden, with the Pine Muhly?

Your grasses and gallardia look very nice together. You have done a good job creating a very natural effect with the placement of your plants in that second to last photo. Thanks for all the photos and the info on where I can get plugs.

mnwsgal, I’m surprised that ‘Hamelin’ reseeded so much for you in zone 4. I’ve had some reseeding but not a lot. Thanks for the warning on rabbits, I saw one in April and when it saw my dog, I didn’t see it the rest of the season.

Thanks everyone, great photos and ideas!


 o
RE: Have you used Ornamental Grasses successfully?

Greatplains - thank you for posting your pictures. They made me look at native grasses closely for the first time. They're always recommended for xeric gardening, but I never knew how to incorporate them into my garden plan. You've given me some good ideas.

Cheryl


 o
RE: Have you used Ornamental Grasses successfully?

Interesting looking at these pictures as well as my own. First off, I love grasses too and enjoy seeing them in different contexts - thanks to all for sharing!

Secondly, grasses in an arid context look very different to me than those in a wetter garden. In an arid setting, the blonde seed heads blend with all the other golden colors. I think for the most part it's easier to use grasses in a xeric or prairie garden. Except for Hakone grass and a few others that already have a lush look as opposed to a lean look.

Case in point, here is my prairie garden in 2005. It's definitely lean and xeric. The grasses are Karl Foerster, bule oat grass, blue fescue and blubunch wheatgrass. You couldn't easily emulate this look in the northeastern US.

Same garden, fast forward to last year. Now that the surrounding trees have grown and we have some shade - the garden is more green than tan. Karl Foerster still looks at home.

Same garden, other end. A blue oat grass stands as the sentinel at the entrance to this part of the garden. This is my favorite of all grasses. This spring I divided one and put one on the other side of the path so there will be a matched pair there. I love how they catch the light in the evening, which is when I'm in the garden. Directly behind the oat grass is bluebunch wheatgrass which is the MT state grass. And off to the left you can see Karl F.

Karl Foerster in winter - when an ornamental grass can be highly valuable.

For something a little different, a pair of blue oat grass in blue containers by the front door. It's not the best picture, but it's an alternate use of ornamental grasses. They are very easy keepers in pots too - no need for daily watering.


 o
RE: Have you used Ornamental Grasses successfully?

delete post

This post was edited by GreatPlains1 on Wed, Sep 4, 13 at 1:45


 o
RE: Have you used Ornamental Grasses successfully?

Karin, I agree, it is not easy to reproduce the look of an xeric or prairie garden, unless you have the xeric conditions they prefer. Here in Massachusetts, we normally do not favor that type of garden. Our average rainfall is 42 inches a year, which is probably quite a bit more than where you or GP1 are gardening.

I love that 2nd photo with the grasses and echinacea with the structure of the trees. Is that a green grass between two patches of echinacea and something taller that is purple behind it on the mid left side of the photo?

The blue oat grass is so delicate looking. In the snowy photo it looks pretty dusted with snow. Do you get a lot of snow in the winter? We’ve gotten over two feet often and I would think that would flatten that grass. lol BUT…recent years, we’ve had months of winter with barely any snow, which is unusual. So it might hold it’s charm through December most years, here.


 o
RE: Have you used Ornamental Grasses successfully?

Great Plains, here is that same photo with some IDs attached. It's amazing when I study it, how different it is now. This photo is probably the best it ever looked. In reality it was a re-seeding nightmare. Yarrow and blue fescue were taking over everything, and it just looked like a mess most of the time. The Karl Foester plants got sooo huge and even the once-per-year cutting back was a big chore. And there were zero shrubs to anchor the scene and provide some order.

So I've kept the well-behaved grasses, added masses of coneflowers (most of which have planted themselves at this point), allowed well-behaved self-seeders (penstemon, blue flax, ratibida, some catananche), and added a lot of shrubs. I took out 100% of the yarrow and blue fescue because they can't seem to exist in moderation.

I can imagine that you would have great luck with penstemon. I sure do love them in all their forms and colors. Before you get too excited about coneflowers (echinacea) beware that they drink a lot of water. More than I thought. But I still love them so they will stay, and in time they will be pushed out by the shrubs and there won't be quite so many.

Are the photos you posted with the blue adobe house in the background your place? It's fantastic and so regionally appropriate! A garden in these parts must have ornamental grasses if you ask me!


 o
RE: Have you used Ornamental Grasses successfully?

delete post

This post was edited by GreatPlains1 on Wed, Sep 4, 13 at 1:43


 o
RE: Have you used Ornamental Grasses successfully?

Ah, good to know about the love grasses reseeding because I love them (I guess they are appropriately named) but would not be keen to introduce another prolific reproducer into the yard.

The shrub you are asking about is Rosa glauca, which is rugged and useful in 4 seasons. It blends very well with grasses because it's a bit on the wild side. Not sure if it's happy in the south though, but worth checking out.

Sorry, yes your garage/studio has a blue door, not blue walls. Either way, that is a fantastic space with a very thoughtful garden. Even more impressive that you resurfaced the walls yourselves. Nicely done!

Sage grows native here but it's not all that attractive in a garden setting - at least everytime I've seen it. It looks perfect out on the plain, but up close it's too coarse for my tastes.

Yes, the Mexican hat here makes blended colors of all shades of yellow >> burgundy. Always a favorite!

I have seen mirabilis but not really given it close inspection. I will do that now - wow, what a dramatic photo!

Sorry, Prairiemoon, for the thread drift. Maybe we should start another thread about penstemons - the ideal companions for ornamental grasses! (at least in a xeric setting)


 o
RE: Have you used Ornamental Grasses successfully?

I don't have many true grasses in the garden, at least on purpose, since they give me contact dermatitis. I do have a golden Hakone grass to help light up some shady areas.
From June 2010

I planted ribbon grass in a couple of containers where it is really easy care. I wouldn't suggest this one for a garden bed due to its rampant spreading.

From June 2010

I use several types of plants with similar foliage to grass plants in the hopes of creating similar foliage interest, including Siberian and Japanese iris,

From June 2010

Carex 'Ice Dance' (below) and 'Evergold' plus several native Carex that I haven't IDed.


 o
RE: Have you used Ornamental Grasses successfully?

delete post

This post was edited by GreatPlains1 on Wed, Sep 4, 13 at 1:46


 o
RE: Have you used Ornamental Grasses successfully?

-PM2, the Blue Oat Grass is very nice most of the year. Only complaint is that the plumes tend to fall out in early fall, though the basal tuft of blue foliage still remains. Mine is in part sun and has almost perpetually moist soil. This situation seems to suit it. There is one planted at work and it is punny in comparison, likely because it is so much dryer there.

Yep! That is a flowering quince with the Ribbon Grass. It does spread fairly enthusiastically. I tend to put most invasive plants in difficult areas (usually tree-root infested areas or areas with very poor soil)- that usually keeps them in check to some degree.

The Hakone is ‘Aureola’, a green and gold variegated variety. It gets morning sun and then some as the sun is setting. The hosta is ‘August Moon’. If your more into the naturalistic look, there are some other Hakones that aren’t as bright. ‘Nicholas’ is plain green but has nice orange flushed fall coloration…‘Beni Kazi’ is green until fall when it gets burgundy colored tips on the blades.

-karin_mt, that first shot is stellar!!!

-GreatPlains, that Koeleria looks nice. Bet it would make a good alternative to fescue (which look gnarly after a few years for me).
CMK


 o
RE: Have you used Ornamental Grasses successfully?

delete post

This post was edited by GreatPlains1 on Wed, Sep 4, 13 at 1:50


 o
RE: Have you used Ornamental Grasses successfully?

delete double post.

This post was edited by GreatPlains1 on Tue, Aug 27, 13 at 0:30


 o
RE: Have you used Ornamental Grasses successfully?

GP1, love that Desert Four O’clock and the Blue Hair Grass is very cute. I'm planning on ordering that 'Blond Ambition'.Thanks!

Karin, no problem with a thread drift, I like penstemons too, although mine all disappeared on me this spring.

Babs, I’ve seen a car dealer near me that used ribbon grass in the ground, wow, what a job they are going to have keeping that in control, it’s spreading in a dense matt. Japanese and Siberian Iris are a good substitute and they look nice with your Solomon’s Seal. Thanks!

CMK, I have a lot of part sun and I’d have to watch the moisture levels, I may give that Blue Oat Grass a try. Putting the aggressive plants in under a tree, good idea. It’s not easy finding something that grows vigorously under trees.

I do like that ‘Aureola’ and I’m going to keep my eye out for that. Thank you!


 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!


Return to the Perennials Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.


Learn more about in-text links on this page here