When you ask gardeners around here why they plant ornamental grasses, fall color isn’t usually one of the reasons given. I’m no different. I love ornamental grasses, too, and given the space, I would be happy to have a garden with nothing but rocks and grasses—including bamboos, which are really just giant grasses. But fall color isn’t something I typically associate with ornamental grasses.
After taking a closer look at what’s happening in our garden right now, I’m about to reconsider. In the last week, we’ve transitioned from fall to winter; quite abruptly, actually. Our chaste tree in the back yard lost all of its leaves in a matter of days, covering the small patio outside the dining room. Hand-sized leaves from our neighbor’s sycamore tree are piling up in our planting beds in the front yard. And our deciduous grasses have turned from green to shades of yellow and brown.
In years past, I never paid much attention to the different hues grasses go through as they go dormant, but they are quite distinct—and surprisingly beautiful.
|This is a non-variegated greenish-yellow variety of Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra ‘All Gold’), turning butterscotch yellow. Hakonechloa macra is a slow but steady grower for us. This one was planted two years ago as a small 2.5” plug.|
|A variegated Miscanthus sinensis cultivar called ‘Dixieland’, growing inside the fence in our front yard. At 4 ft., it’s smaller than many other maiden grasses. |
|This is Miscanthus sinensis ‘Rigoletto’ in the planting strip outside the fence in the front yard. Even now it has a commanding presence.|