The Beauty of Grasses

    • Colorful petunias will brighten up any flower bed. Their purples, pinks and reds make a real splash when planted in groups of the same color.
    • Attract birds to your garden with a concrete bird bath. They come in many attractive styles and make good gifts.
    • Dig gently to harvest potatoes, a few plants at a time, after foliage yellows and dries up.
    • Roses need water and fertilizer to keep blooming through the summer. Watch for pests and diseases and treat as soon as you see trouble.
    • Prune rhododendrons, camellias and azaleas to shape them now. If you wait much longer, you will be cutting off next year’s flowers.

Graceful Grasses

Ornamental grasses are an essential companion for perennials. Their linear leaves and various growth habits provide striking contrast to the shapes of most perennials. They add beauty and texture to almost any landscape, and provide such valuable traits as reliability, long season of interest and a tolerance of a wide range of environments.

With their foliage so different from leafy shrubs, grasses make a striking contrast to shrubs and most perennials. In the fall, when most of them bloom, their graceful plumes or feathery flowers are very attractive. The contrast of textures and shapes is one of the most appealing aspects of gardening with ornamental grasses.

There are many beautiful grasses in the genus, Pennisetum, known as Fountain Grasses. They are clumping grasses that grow 2 to 4 feet tall with beautiful flower heads. Australian Fountain Grass, Pennisetum alopecuroides, grows in mounds 3 to 4 feet tall. It is one of the most versatile, dependable and showy of all the ornamental grasses with gracefully arching foliage. It flowers from late August to October with rosy-copper spikes in arching sprays. It prefers full sun and fertile soil with adequate moisture. Pennisetum orientale, Oriental Fountain Grass, has flowers that are nearly white with a hint of pearlescent pink. The showy Purple Leaved Fountain Grass, Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’, is not hardy here but is beautiful used as an annual accent plant.

Ribbon Grass, Phalaris arundinacea, has showy green-and-white striped foliage on a spreading plant that reaches 30 inches tall. It can be very invasive so it is best grown in a container. It likes partial shade and can be grown in dry or moist soil. It has showy flowers that are pale pink and bloom in June and July.

Japanese Silver Grass, Miscanthus sinensis ‘Yaku Jima’, is a fine selection for small gardens. It grows 3 to 4 feet tall with green foliage that turns reddish brown in the fall. The fluffy reddish flowers emerge in mid-September and are quite showy and good for fresh or dried arrangements. It grows in full sun or partial shade and works well as a waterside plant.

Northern Sea Oats, Chasmanthium latifolium, is a clumping grass that is treasured for its showy, drooping flowers and rich, bamboo-like foliage. It is effective in mass plantings as well as a good choice for shady, damp conditions, though it will also grow in full sun. The flowers are very attractive throughout their various stages, and they make excellent cut or dried flowers.

Blue Fescue, Festuca glauca, grass has been used for decades as an attractive border plant for edging driveways and walks. Its blue foliage grows to 10 inches tall with flower spikes rising to 18 inches. It grows well in full or partial sun with average watering.

Mexican Feather Grass, Stipa tenuissima, is a great plant for mass planting, as it waves gracefully in light breezes. It blooms in the summer with feathery flowers that turn a golden brown, rising above the 24-inch, green foliage.

Add year-round interest to your landscape with ornamental grasses.

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