Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Ornamental grasses lighting up the yard

Considering that today is October 26th, a lot plants are still looking good in the yard. Many salvias are still in bloom, and I noticed new buds on many of our lavenders. Given mild temperatures, lavenders bloom here into December.

For me, however, the stars of the show in late fall are our ornamental grasses. I love their plumes rising high above the leaves. They will continue to look good even when the flowering perennials have quit for the winter.

Miscanthus sinensis ‘Rigoletto’; we have  two clumps outside the fence in the front yard, and one inside. This cultivar is supposed to be on the smaller side for a miscanthus, but ours has topped 4 ft. already.

Miscanthus sinensis ‘Rigoletto’ (right) inside the front-yard fence
with Heliopsis helianthoides (left). This ‘Rigoletto’ is noticeably smaller than the one outside the fence, which gets quite a bit more sun.
Closeup of a miscanthus plume

Closeup of Miscanthus sinensis ‘Super Stripe’. Beautiful striping in the leaves. I wish this would grow faster and taller. Maybe next year!

Pennisetum orientale ‘Karley Rose’. Planted just this summer from a 1-gallon container and already 3 ft. tall.

Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Little Bunny’ being shaded by the floppy culms of our Baby Blue bamboo (Bambusa chungii ‘Barbellata’)

Pennisetum setaceum 'Rubrum', the good old purple fountain grass. A little past its prime but still looking mighty good in a pot in our front yard.
Calamagrostis arundinacea var. brachytricha (Korean feather reed grass) in our back yard next to the potted ‘Koi’ bamboo; this grass has been one of our favorites this year due to its fluffy plumes that look particularly gorgeous when backlit

All the grasses above need as much sun as possible and generally don’t do well in the shade.

I’ll write a separate post about the shade-tolerant grasses we have in our back yard, but here are two favorites that I happened to photograph today.

Hakonechloa macra 'Albostriata', commonly known as Japanese forest grass or Hakone grass. This is my favorite shade grass. There are several cultivars, including an all-green one, a greenish-yellow one, and ones with yellow or white stripes. This is the white-striped cultivar. It will eventually grow to 2 ft. or so. We have it planted in several shady spots in the back yard. This one is at the base of a clumping mountain bamboo (Borinda angustissima).

Carex oshimensis ‘Evergold’, a variegated sedge that fits in well with the Asian theme in this corner of our back yard

One of my favorite online nurseries, Santa Rosa Gardens in Florida, had a clearance sale a few weeks ago, and I snapped up a bunch of grasses at $1.99 each. I transplanted them from their 4-inch nursery containers into 1-gallon pots where their root development will continue throughout the winter. They’ll go in the ground in early spring so by summer they’re on their way to getting established.


Sale plants from Santa Rosa Gardens

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