Garden Design With Ornamental Grasses

In their natural form, grasses add excitement and curiosity to any garden setting.

With the slightest breeze, senses illuminate with the swaying motion of the plants.

Ornamental grasses have both strong form and texture which gardeners adore.

The grass palette is a great, low-maintenance way to add visual interest to your garden’s landscape. In their rich tapestries, grasses add perfect balance between height, movement, colour and texture.

The use of taller grasses is a great way to add a crisp definition to border pathways or create privacy between gardens. The texture and shape of the smaller grasses makes for excellent garden accent plants.

Here are a few hardy northern favourites:

Blue Fescue(Festuca glauca ‘Elijah Blue’): Hardy to Zone 3, this bluest of blue fescue grasses is both heat- and drought-tolerant. As a compact, mounded grass it looks great as an accent plant in rockery gardens.

Feather Reed Grass(Calamagrostis x. acutiflora ‘Karl Forester’): This early bloomer is a real asset to Northern gardeners who await their garden’s performance with anxious anticipation. This medium blade foliage reaches heights of 120 centimetres. Often this grass will remain showy well into heavy snowfalls. Though this grass lends itself to more natural landscapes, it does look great in a single-massed plantings surrounded by lower perennial plants. The seeds on this plant are sterile so you won’t have to worry about this grass spreading. This plant will thrive in both dry and moist areas as well as in full to partially lit areas. Though this grass is rated as Zone 3, many gardeners treat this plant as a hardier Zone 2 perennial.

Flame Grass (Micanthus ‘purpurascens’): This grass is loved for its vibrant plumes which transition, mid-summer, from green to a flaming orange-bronze colour. The tall spikes of soft-pink turn to a shimmery silver and often will last through the early parts of winter.

Golden Brome Grass (Bromus inermis ‘skinners gold’): This very hardy bright green and gold grass is popular for cut flower garden enthusiasts. Grown naturally in a very tight clump formation, this plant can be easily divided and transplanted in the spring or fall. Hardy to most any soil condition – moist, dry, clay or sand – it does prefer a full to partial sunlit location. As a fast grower, this plant will reach heights of 80 centimetres within a short period of time.

Variegated Moor Grass (Molinia caerulea ‘variegata’): This popular native grass is a great choice as edging along a water garden or perennial border. This creamy-yellow striped grass bears tall arching stems of airy yellow flowers, in a fountain-shaped appearance, from mid to late summer. This grass has beautiful golden yellow fall colour which provides for great fall interest.

Grasses provide natural, compelling movement to any garden palette. In the broad diversity of heights, colours and textures, the swells of hardy northern grasses (from the spiky blue fescues to the tall feathery plumes of flame grass) add interest to both contemporary and natural garden settings.

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