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GARDENS BY THE BAY


Miscanthus 'Gracillimus', 'Silberpfeil' & 'Zebrinus'


ORNAMENTAL GRASSES & THEIR COMPANIONS - 2


Ornamental Grasses provide many benefits to a gardener. They can stand alone as a landcaping element or be incorporated into our garden beds to make a dramatic statement among other perennials. They can be mass planted for a different effect, with several plants of the same species together, or combined with other ornamental grass species or cultivars in myriad combinations. And for low-maintenance gardening they are unequalled. What else requires only an early spring cut-back to launch it into a summer-long performance?

Note that heights given for ornamental grasses are for foliage only. Plumes can add several more feet to the overall height during bloom. Blooms of Ornamental Grasses are usually referred to as "inflorescences".

Rick Darke's Timber Press Pocket Guide to Ornamental Grasses belongs on your shelf of gardening literature. There's plenty of identification information about species and cultivars that you're sure to finding interesting and informative. Watch for many references to this volume below.

If you want on-line information about Ornamental Grasses and Sedges, their many different genera, species and cultivars, just follow the link to the BLUESTEM NURSERY home page. Be sure to check out their Grass-scapes link for images of the plumes of many and their Landscape Uses link so that you can find the correct spot to plant them for best growth potential. If you want to return to our pages be sure to bookmark us before you leave our site.


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MISCANTHUS

Maiden Grass, Silver Grass and Eulalia are various names for these showy clumping warm season grasses, most ranging from 3 feet to 15 feet in height. There is even one listed below which tops out at a mere 18". Rick Darke's Timber Press Pocket Guide to Ornamental Grasses states that "All species and most cultivars prefer full sun sites.". Older clumps may require division when they begin to die out in the center. For best results perform this chore in spring or early summer.

Miscanthus sinensis:  Japanese Silver Grass, Eulalia - a warm-season clumping grass

    where:  for moist, well-drained soil, best in full sun
      beside:  Hibiscus moscheutos
        offset behind:  Stachys byzantina 'Helene von Stein'
          offset behind:  Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Hamelyn' & Perovskia atriplicifolia
        Miscanthus sinensis 'Adagio':  a compact, short-statured 2 foot tall form - a "must-have" plant
          Miscanthus sinensis 'Adagio' Miscanthus sinensis 'Adagio'
          note:  its plumes stand taller than the tops of its foliage, making it superior to the similar cultivar 'Yaku Jima'
            foliage:  narrow green leaves becoming yellow in autumn
              inflorescences:  open with reddish tints
                above left (foliage only) with:  Hemerocallis 'El Desperado' - above right (with plumes)
              Miscanthus sinensis var. condensatus:  Purple-Blooming Japanese Silver Grass, an early-bloomer with purple-tinted flowers
                often mistakenly identified as:  Miscanthus sinensis 'Condensatus'
                  offset behind:  Sedum x 'Ruby Glow'
                    beside:  Miscanthus sinensis 'Gracillimus'
                      offset in front of:  Cytisus x praecox, Eupatorium purpureum
                    There are named cultivars in the above species as described in the list below. Most are larger and have broader leaves with a silvery cast than the Miscanthus sinensis forms.
                    • 'Cabaret'  -  7', dramatic, wide leaves with deep green margins
                    • 'Cosmopolitan'  -  8', more striking and larger than 'Cabaret', wide leaves with broad margins and creamy white stripes
                    • 'Cosmo Revert'  -  8', tropical looking, solid green leaves
                    • 'Emerald Giant'  -  emerald green foliage
                    • 'Emerald Shadow'  -  
                    • 'Central Park'  -  9', stately, with deep green foliage
                    Miscanthus 'Giganteus':  Giant Chinese Silver Grass, Giant Miscanthus, 10'+ x 3', foliage appears like falling water
                      Miscanthus 'Giganteus'
                      often mistakenly identified as :  Miscanthus floridulus, Miscanthus sacchariflorus or Miscanthus sinensis
                        foliage:  pendent, 1"-wide deep green foliage with a narrow white midvein
                          inflorescences:  open with pinkish tints, then turn silver as they dry
                            offset behind:  Physostegia virginiana 'Vivid', Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Moudry'
                              beside:  Calamagrostis acutiflora stricta, Lythrum salicaria 'Morden's Pink'
                                offset behind:  Calamagrostis acutiflora stricta & Physostegia virginiana 'Vivid'
                              Miscanthus 'Giganteus' - variegated foliage is available in either of the forms below:  
                              • 'Gilt Edge' - 8', striped and margined with gold
                              • 'Gotemba' - 8', striped and margined golden-yellow * may spread
                              Miscanthus sinensis 'Gracillimus':  Japanese Silver Grass, Maiden Grass, one of the oldest cultivars, 5-6'x5'
                                Miscanthus sinensis 'Gracillimus' - Japanese Silver Grass 'Gracillimus'
                                foliage:  narrow green foliage turning golden-yellow in autumn
                                  inflorescences:  open copper-red
                                    offset behind:  Hemerocallis citrina, Hemerocallis 'Stella d'Oro'
                                      beside:  Pennisetum orientale, Miscanthus sinensis 'Condensatus', Achillea filipendulina, Pennisetum alopecuroides
                                        offset in front of:  Eupatorium purpureum & Spodiopogon sibiricus
                                          with:  Sedum x 'Autumn Joy'
                                            offset behind:  Iris sibirica 'Caesar's Brother' & Lilium 'Olivia'
                                              offset in front of:  Aster 'Harrington's Pink' & Delphinium 'Blue Bird'
                                                between:  Aster 'Harrington's Pink' & Hibiscus syriacus 'Diana'
                                                  between:  Delphinium 'Bluebird' or Delphinium elatum 'Pacific' hybrids & Aster 'Alma Potschke', 'Harrington's Pink'
                                                    or 'Summer Sunshine'
                                                  between:  Thalictrum rochebrunianum & Echinops ritro
                                                    between:  Cimicifuga racemosa & Aster 'Alma Potschke', 'Harrington's Pink' or 'Summer Sunshine'
                                                      offset behind:  Gypsophila paniculata 'Bristol Fairy', Paeonia, Malva moschata 'Alba'
                                                        beside:  Iris x germanica (white)
                                                          offset in front of:  Chrysanthemum frutescens 'White Pompon'
                                                            near:  Pieris, Boltonia asteroides (white)
                                                          Miscanthus sinensis 'Graziella':  Graziella Japanese Silver Grass, 4-5', white plumes
                                                            foliage:  narrow green foliage turning a rich coppery red-orange in fall
                                                              form:  more upright than the similar, but more gracefully rounded 'Gracillimus'
                                                                inflorescences:  open silvery, then become fluffy when dry
                                                                  offset behind:  Liriope muscari 'Big Blue'
                                                                    beside:  Panicum virgatum 'Rotsrahlbusch'
                                                                      offset in front of:  Perovskia atriplicifolia & Nepeta x faassenii
                                                                    Miscanthus sinensis 'Malepartus':  Malepartus Japanese Silver Grass, 5-6' tall, a robust cultivar
                                                                      foliage:  leaves similar to but wider than those of 'Graziella', turning gold with orange and red tones in autumn
                                                                        inflorescences:  open silver, then become very fluffy-white as they dry
                                                                          beside:  Molinia litorialis 'Transparent', Peltiphyllum peltatum, Rudbeckia maxima
                                                                            between:  Molinia litorialis 'Transparent' & Peltiphyllum peltatum
                                                                              offset in front of:  Acer rubrum
                                                                                massed in front of:  Ilex x meservae 'Blue Stallion'
                                                                              Miscanthus sinensis 'Morning Light':  Morning Light Japanese Silver Grass, 5-6' tall with a clear white band at leaf margins
                                                                                Miscanthus sinensis 'Morning Light' - Japanese Silver Grass 'Morning Light'
                                                                                quote:  "Arguably the best all-around garden plant among the Miscanthus species and cultivars." - Rick Darke
                                                                                  synonym:  Miscanthus sinensis 'Gracillimus Variegatus'
                                                                                    foliage:  fine-textured narrow green foliage with white-variegated leaf margins
                                                                                      form:  rounded
                                                                                        inflorescences:  reddish, late-blooming
                                                                                          with:  Rudbeckia maxima
                                                                                            beside:  Miscanthus sinensis purpurascens
                                                                                              offset behind:  Lythrum virgatum 'Morden Gleam', Iris ensata, Inula magnifica
                                                                                                beside:  Thermopsis caroliniana, Hosta ('variegated), Echinops ritro
                                                                                                  between:  Perovskia & Helianthus maximiliana
                                                                                                    between:  Artemisia 'Silver Queen' & Monarda didyma 'Adam' or 'Cambridge Scarlet'
                                                                                                      offset in front of:  Lobelia x gerardii (purple)
                                                                                                    Miscanthus 'Purpurascens': Red Maiden Grass, Flame Grass, Purple Silver Grass, a compact form, 4-5' tall
                                                                                                      often mistakenly identified as:  Miscanthus sinensis to which it does not belong
                                                                                                        foliage:  to 1/2" wide, gray-green in summer, with reliable red-orange fall colouration
                                                                                                          plant form:  upright
                                                                                                            inflorescences:  narrow and vertical, open with pinkish tints then turn silver as they dry
                                                                                                              offset behind:  Salvia nemorosa 'Mainacht'
                                                                                                                beside:  Spodiopogon sibiricus, Miscanthus sinensis 'Morning Light'
                                                                                                                  offset in front of:  Eupatorium purpureum
                                                                                                                Miscanthus sinensis 'Silberfeder': Silver-Feather Eulalia, 'Silver Feather' Eulalia, 5-6' tall, foliage has a silver mid-rib
                                                                                                                  Miscanthus 'Silberfeder'
                                                                                                                  foliage:  green, 3/4" wide
                                                                                                                    inflorescences:  large, feathery, open silver with slight pink tint, held high above foliage for dramatic effect
                                                                                                                      combined with:  Achillea, Alchemilla, Chrysanthemum, Coreopsis, Dianthus, Erigeron, Filipendula, Hemerocallis,
                                                                                                                        Perovskia, Phlox paniculata
                                                                                                                      for contrast near:  evergreens
                                                                                                                    Miscanthus sinensis 'Silberpfeil':  Silver Arrow Miscanthus, 6-8', similar to Variegated Japanese Silver Grass
                                                                                                                      Miscanthus sinensis 'Silberpfeil' - 'Silver Arrow' Miscanthus
                                                                                                                      this cultivar is quickly becoming my favourite of the taller Miscanthus forms
                                                                                                                    Miscanthus sinensis 'Strictus':  Porcupine Grass, Banded Miscanthus, 5-6' tall
                                                                                                                      new spring foliage behind Tulips
                                                                                                                      synonym:  Miscanthus sinensis var. strictus
                                                                                                                        sometimes incorrectly called:  Zebra Grass
                                                                                                                          new spring foliage of grass seen in photograph above behind Tulipa 'Burgundy Lace'
                                                                                                                            with:  Cimicifuga, Helianthus, Ligularia
                                                                                                                              combined with:  Patrinia scabiosifolia & Ilex verticillata 'Winter Red'
                                                                                                                                for a yellow "echo" behind:  yellow flowers i.e. Black-Eyed Susan, Rudbeckia
                                                                                                                              Miscanthus sinensis 'Variegatus':  Variegated Japanese Silver Grass, 5-6' tall, one of the oldest cultivars in use since 1900
                                                                                                                                Miscanthus sinensis 'Variegatus'
                                                                                                                                in light shade offset behind:  Geranium spp.
                                                                                                                                  beside:  Euphorbia polychroma
                                                                                                                                    with:  Rosa rugosa
                                                                                                                                      offset in front of:  Helianthus angustifolius
                                                                                                                                        beside:  Centaurea macrocephala, Spartina pectinata 'Aureomarginata' & Cimicifuga racemosa
                                                                                                                                          between:  Berberis 'Rosy Glo' & Thalictrum 'Lavender Mist'
                                                                                                                                            offset behind:  Perovskia atriplicifolia
                                                                                                                                              offset behind:  Lysimachia punctata &Rudbeckia 'Goldsturm'
                                                                                                                                                offset behind:  Lythrum 'Dropmore Purple' & Rudbeckia fulgida 'Goldsturm'
                                                                                                                                                  offset behind:  Verbena bonariensis & Rudbeckia fulgida 'Goldsturm'
                                                                                                                                                    offset behind:  Iris sibirica & Hibiscus moscheutos
                                                                                                                                                      offset in front of:  Miscanthus sinensis 'Zebrinus' & Helianthus angustifolius
                                                                                                                                                    Miscanthus sinensis 'Yaku Jima': Yaku Jima Japanese Silver Grass, a 3-4' tall dwarf, excellent for smaller gardens
                                                                                                                                                      note:  flowering plumes may rest down inside the foliage - compare with comments about foliage of 'Adagio' above
                                                                                                                                                        beside:  Sedum x 'Autumn Joy'
                                                                                                                                                      Miscanthus sinensis 'Zebrinus':  Zebra Grass, Banded Miscanthus, 5-7' tall x similar width, yellow horizontal bands on foliage
                                                                                                                                                        Miscanthus sinensis 'Zebrinus' - Zebra Grass
                                                                                                                                                        offset behind:  Agapanthus umbellatus (blue and/or white varieties)
                                                                                                                                                          near:  Phlox paniculata (pink)
                                                                                                                                                            offset behind:  Spartina, Dahlia
                                                                                                                                                              beside:  Helianthus annuus, Rudbeckia nitida 'Autumn Glory', Helianthus 'Mammoth', Allium giganteum
                                                                                                                                                            Miscanthus sinensis:  try some of the cultivars below for different heights (18" - 12'), colours or bloom times
                                                                                                                                                            • 'Autumn Light'  -  to 8', narrow, green leaves
                                                                                                                                                            • 'Dixieland'  -  5', remarkably similar to 'Variegatus'
                                                                                                                                                            • 'Etincelle'  -  'Sparkler', 5', a zebra-striped 'Gracillimus'
                                                                                                                                                            • 'Ferner Osten'  -  'Near East', 5', early flowering
                                                                                                                                                            • 'Flamingo'  -  to 6', fluffy pink inflorescences, late summer bloom
                                                                                                                                                            • 'Gewitterwolke'  -  'Thundercloud', 4-1/2', foliage turns orange in fall
                                                                                                                                                            • 'Ghana'  -  6', glorious autumn foliage, cascading, thin-leaved
                                                                                                                                                            • 'Giraffe'  -  8', similar to 'Zebrinus'
                                                                                                                                                            • 'Goldfeder'  -  'Gold Feather', 7', a yellow-variegated form, pale flowers
                                                                                                                                                            • 'Gold und Silber'  -  'Gold and Silver', 4-1/2', compact zebra-striped form, ideal for small gardens
                                                                                                                                                            • 'Grosse Fontane'  -  'Big Fountain', 8', wide green leaves with silver mid-ribs, silvery plumes
                                                                                                                                                            • 'Haiku'  -  8', large fluffy plumes held well above foliage, red autumn colouration
                                                                                                                                                            • 'Helga Reich'  -  6', like a shorter 'Gracillimus' with more reliable flowering
                                                                                                                                                            • 'Herman Mussel'  -  7', plumes high above foliage, perfect at rear of perennials beds
                                                                                                                                                            • 'Hinjo'  -  4', a dwarf zebra grass, plumes just above foliage
                                                                                                                                                            • 'Kaskade'  -  6', flower plumes cascade, starting red then turning silver
                                                                                                                                                            • 'Kirk Alexander'  -  7', one of the best zebra grasses for American gardens
                                                                                                                                                            • 'Kleine Fontaine'  -  'Little Fountain', 5', narrow leaves with white mid-ribs, large plumes
                                                                                                                                                            • 'Kleine Silberspinne'  -  'Little Silver Spider', 6', narrow leaves stand at right angles to stem, strong white mid-rib
                                                                                                                                                            • 'Little Kitten'  -  18", dwarfest form, like miniature 'Gracillimus'
                                                                                                                                                            • 'Mt. Washington'  -  6', most brilliant autumn foliage
                                                                                                                                                            • 'Nippon'  -  4', small yet distinct, very narrow, very upright plumes
                                                                                                                                                            • 'Nishidake'  -  8', abundant blooms over bright green foliage
                                                                                                                                                            • 'Poseidon'  -  6', huge flower panicles, light green, glazed leaves
                                                                                                                                                            • 'Puenktchen'  -  'Little Dot', 6', dense, upright zebra grass with sparse banding, long-blooming pink plumes
                                                                                                                                                            • 'Rigoletto'  -  5', dwarf 'Variegatus', good for small gardens
                                                                                                                                                            • 'Roland'  -  12', huge plumes on extremely tall plants
                                                                                                                                                            • 'Roterpfeil'  -  'Red Arrow', 6', wonderful autumn colouration in a tall plant, reddish-brown flowers fade to silver
                                                                                                                                                            • 'Rotsilber'  -  'Red Silver', 6', silver mid-rib on foliage, red and silver plumage, free-flowering
                                                                                                                                                            • 'Samurai'  -  6', brilliant yellow autumn colour, upright habit
                                                                                                                                                            • 'Sarabande'  -  6', like 'Gracillimus' but foliage has a greyish cast
                                                                                                                                                            • 'Septemberrot'  -  'September Red', 8', upright, wide foliage with white mid-ribs turns coppery in fall
                                                                                                                                                            • 'Silberspinne'  -  'Silver Spider', 6', flower panicles form long, spidery fingers
                                                                                                                                                            • 'Silberturm'  -  'Silver Tower', 9', nearly as tall as 'Roland' and more upright
                                                                                                                                                            • 'Sirene'  -  5', wonderful in smaller gardens, silvery-white plumes
                                                                                                                                                            • 'Tiger Cub'  -  4', like a short zebra grass
                                                                                                                                                            • 'Undine'  -  6', similar to 'Graziella', coppery-pink plumes


                                                                                                                                                            MOLINIA

                                                                                                                                                            Moor Grass, mostly warm-season clumping grasses, ranging in height from dwarf to giant, has some of the showiest plumage of all ornamental grasses. To avoid confusion, you should know that there are two distinct sub-species in this genus, differing considerably, particularly in height but in other characteristics as well. Knowing the difference will help with choosing their placement in the garden as well as the companions to plant with them.

                                                                                                                                                            • Molinia caerulea - Moor Grass, less than 3' tall
                                                                                                                                                            • Molinia caerulea subsp. arundinacea - Tall Purple Moor Grass, to 8'

                                                                                                                                                            Molinia caerulea 'Variegata':  Variegated Moor Grass, 24-30", one of the best variegated ornamental grasses

                                                                                                                                                              Molinia caerulea 'Variegata' - Variegated Moor Grass
                                                                                                                                                              wonderful with:  Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens'
                                                                                                                                                                also with:  Asiatic lilies ( especially pale yellow)
                                                                                                                                                              Other cultivars within this shorter sub-species are:  
                                                                                                                                                              • 'Carmarthen'  -  like 'Variegata' but with white variegation
                                                                                                                                                              • 'Claerwen'  -  similar to 'Variegata' but with subtler variegation
                                                                                                                                                              • 'Dauerstrahl'  -  'Faithful Ray', under 3', green foliage, arches slightly
                                                                                                                                                              • 'Edith Dudszus'  -  nearly black spikelets on stiff, upright stems
                                                                                                                                                              • 'Heidebraut'  -  'Heather Bride', 2', green foliage, more upright, yellow spikelets
                                                                                                                                                              • 'Moorflamme'  -  more arching stems than the similar 'Moorhexe'
                                                                                                                                                              • 'Moorhexe'  -  'Moor Witch', 20", green foliage, narrowly erect
                                                                                                                                                              • 'Rotschopf'  -  foliage is dark red, turning even richer in fall
                                                                                                                                                              • 'Strahlenquelle'  -  Source of Rays, grren foliage, arching plumes

                                                                                                                                                              Molinia caerulea spp. arundinacea:  Tall Purple Moor Grass, 6'x2-3'

                                                                                                                                                                where:  against a dark background to set off its whispy form
                                                                                                                                                                  with:  Aster dumosus, Calluna vulgaris, Sedum (low forms)
                                                                                                                                                                Molinia caerulea subsp arundinacea 'Karl Foerster':  Foerster's Tall Moor Grass, 6-7', arching form, good for mass planting
                                                                                                                                                                  offset in front of:  Helictotrichon sempervirens
                                                                                                                                                                    beside:  Achillea filipendulina 'Coronation Gold'
                                                                                                                                                                      between:  Acanthus hungaricus & Pennisetum orientale
                                                                                                                                                                    Molinia caerulea arundinacea 'Skyracer':  to 8', upright, unusually tall, makes a good vertical accent plant
                                                                                                                                                                      offset behind:  Kniphofia uvaria 'Goldmine', 'Primrose Beauty' or 'Vanilla'
                                                                                                                                                                        between:  Dahlia & Canna
                                                                                                                                                                          offset in front of:  Tithonia
                                                                                                                                                                            offset in front of:  Helianthus angustifolius & Rudbeckia nitida 'Autumn Glory'
                                                                                                                                                                              offset behind:  Centaurea macrocephala & Spiraea 'Goldflame'
                                                                                                                                                                                offset behind:  Iris pseudacorus & Centaurea macrocephala
                                                                                                                                                                              Molinia caerulea subsp. arundinacea 'Transparent': 5-6', stems arch gracefully
                                                                                                                                                                                beside and behind:  Veronica longifolia 'Sunny Border Blue'
                                                                                                                                                                                  beside:  Hemerocallis citrina, Rudbeckia fulgida 'Goldsturm', Miscanthus sinensis 'Malepartus'
                                                                                                                                                                                    drifted in front of:  Cimicifuga racemosa
                                                                                                                                                                                      offset in front of:  Rudbeckia maxima
                                                                                                                                                                                    Molinia caerulea spp. arundinacea 'Windspiel':  'Wind's Game', to 7', upright habit, whispy plumes
                                                                                                                                                                                      Molinia caerulea 'Windspiel'
                                                                                                                                                                                      uses:  for a see-through effect
                                                                                                                                                                                    Other cultivars within this taller sub-species are:  
                                                                                                                                                                                    • 'Bergfreund'  -  Mountain Friend, to 5', plumes "like a cloud of tiny insects"
                                                                                                                                                                                    • 'Fontane'  -  Fountain, to 6', arching, good as a specimen plant
                                                                                                                                                                                    • 'Staefa'  -  to 5', mostly upright
                                                                                                                                                                                    • 'Windzolle'  -  Wind Sail, similar to 'Fontane'
                                                                                                                                                                                    • 'Zuneigung'  -  Like Lovers Embracing, the best of the pendulous forms in this sub-species, makes a good specimen plant


                                                                                                                                                                                    OPHIOPOGON

                                                                                                                                                                                    Black Mondo Grass isn't really a grass, but a member of the Liliaceae family with grass-like foliage. Given sun to part shade and fertile, well-drained soil it will provide lots of interest to any garden, in particular the form directly below.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens:  nearly black foliage

                                                                                                                                                                                      the perfect partner to bring attention to any variegated-foliage plant it stands beside
                                                                                                                                                                                        with:  Carex 'Ice Dance', Carex morrowii 'Variegata'
                                                                                                                                                                                          underplanting for:  white-striped Iris forms i.e. I. laevigata 'Variegata'
                                                                                                                                                                                            near:  Phormium tenax 'Variegata', Phormium colensoi 'Tricolor'
                                                                                                                                                                                              spring effect with:  Galanthus nivalis
                                                                                                                                                                                                with other black-effect perennials:  Hemerocallis 'Sir Blackstem', Hosta 'Little Black Scapes'
                                                                                                                                                                                                  with dark-foliaged plants:  Heuchera (purple forms), Saxifraga fortunei (darker forms)
                                                                                                                                                                                                    with ferns:  Athyrium nipponicum 'Pictum' or 'Silver Falls'


                                                                                                                                                                                                  PANICUM

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Switch Grass, a warm season clump-forming grass form, is returning to popularity in North America where it was once a major part of the tallgrass prairie. It has been called one of the loveliest grass families and many of the available cultivar choices may be just perfect for your garden setting.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Panicum virgatum:  Switch Grass, 4-7'

                                                                                                                                                                                                    beside:  Lythrum salicaria 'Morden Pink', Aster frikartii 'Monch'
                                                                                                                                                                                                      drifted beside:  Hibiscus moscheutos
                                                                                                                                                                                                    Panicum virgatum 'Haense Herms':  Red Switch Grass, 3'
                                                                                                                                                                                                      offset behind:  Cimicifuga americana & Polygonum polymorphum
                                                                                                                                                                                                        in moist area with:  Petasites japonicus
                                                                                                                                                                                                          beside:  Pennisetum alopecuroides, Cimicifuga racemosa, Ilex x meserveae 'Blue Stallion',
                                                                                                                                                                                                            Hosta sieboldiana
                                                                                                                                                                                                          between:  Pennisetum alopecuroides & Sedum x 'Ruby Glow'
                                                                                                                                                                                                            offset in front of:  Eupatorium fistulosum 'Gateway', Miscanthus sinensis giganteus
                                                                                                                                                                                                              in front of:  Cytisus praecox & Eupatorium purpureum
                                                                                                                                                                                                                offset behind:  Pennisetum orientale & Miscanthus sinensis 'Gracillimus'
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  offset behind:  Aster macrophyllus 'Albus' & Hosta x 'Honeybells'
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Panicum virgatum 'Rehbraun':  Deer Red-Brown Switch Grass, 3-4', a lovely specimen, foliage red-orange in fall
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  where:  tolerates a wide range of soil types
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    between:  Sedum 'Autumn Joy' (edger) & Lythrum virgatum 'Dropmore Purple' (behind)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      between:  Kniphofia uvaria 'Goldmine', 'Primrose Beauty' or 'Vanilla' (in front) & Lysimachia clethroides
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        between:  Spiraea x bumalda 'Goldflame' & Canna
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          between:  Lythrum virgatum 'Dropmore Purple' & Verbascum olympicum
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            offset behind:  Geum quellyon 'Mrs. Bradshaw'
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              in front of:  Spiraea x bumalda 'Goldflame', Prunus x cistena
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Panicum virgatum 'Rotsrahlbusch':  Red Rays Switch Grass, 3-4', a green-leaved form
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Note:  considered the "reddest of the red Switch Grasses"
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                near:  Buddleia davidii, Miscanthus sinensis 'Sarabande'
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              There are additional choice cultivars within the species Panicum virgatum described below.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • 'Blue Tower'  -  8', blue foliage, good specimen plant
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • 'Cloud Nine'  -  6', steely blue, arching foliage
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • 'Dallas Blues'   -  5', the bluest selection, large and showy panicles
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • 'Heavy Metal'  -  39", grey-blue foliage in stiff clumps
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • 'Northwind'  -  4', one of the taller forms, strongly upright for vertical accent
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • 'Pathfinder'  -  3', powder-blue foliage, relaxed habit
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • 'Prairie Sky'  -  4', "the best blue", upright
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • 'Red Cloud'  -  5-1/2', green foliage with red to purple spikelets
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • 'Rotbraun'  -  Red Bronze, 4', leaves remain green in autumn
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • 'Rubrum'  -  may be applied to many selections whose foliage turns red in fall
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • 'Shenandoah'  -  4', intense autumn colouration
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • 'Squaw'  -  5', tall with green foliage, purplish-pink spikelets
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • 'Strictum'  -  5', narrowly upright habit, bluish foliage
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • 'Warrior'  -  6', green foliage, large panicles with dark spikelets


                                                                                                                                                                                                                              PENNISETUM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Fountain Grass, mostly warm-season, clumping grasses, produces showy flowers in a range of colours. In addition to the perennial forms below, there are several annual forms worth seeking out, from the shorter Pennisetum orientale & Pennisetum villosum to the aptly named 'Burgundy Giant'.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Pennisetum alopecuroides:  Fountain Grass, 3-4'x24-30"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                with:  yellow daisies i.e. black-eyed Susan, Rudbeckia
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  with:  Sedum 'Autumn Joy'
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    combined with:  Sedum 'Vera Jameson' & Rudbeckia 'Goldsturm'
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      offset behind:  purple-flowered edgers
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        offset behind other grasses:  Imperata cylindrica 'Red Baron', Sesleria autumnalis
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          offset behind:  Hypericum calycinum
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            offset beside:  Panicum virgatum 'Haense Herms', Miscanthus sinensis 'Gracillimus', Achillea filipendulina
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              offset in front of:  Viburnum & Cytisus x praecox
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                with:  Miscanthus floridulus, Erianthus ravennae & Sedum spectabile 'Brilliant'
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  with:  Sedum 'Autumn Joy', Imperata cylindrica 'Rubra' & Euphorbia myrsinites
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    offset behind:  Alchemilla mollis
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      beside:  Liatris spicata, Iris pseudacorus
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        offset in front of:  Lobelia cardinalis
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Hameln':  Dwarf Fountain Grass, 24-30", flowers reliably
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        with:  blue or purple Aster
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          beside:  Monarda didyma 'Purpurkrone'
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            offset behind:  Hemerocallis 'Stella d'Oro'
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              beside:  Gypsophila paniculata 'Bristol Fairy'
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                between:  Caryopteris & Phlox carolina 'Miss Lingard'
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Moudry':  Black-Flowered Fountain Grass, Late-Blooming Fountain Grass, 30-36"
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                offset behind:  Dryopteris erythrosora & Asarum superbum
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  beside:  Hemerocallis, Physostegia virginiana 'Vivid'
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    offset in front of:  Lysimachia clethroides, Miscanthus sinensis giganteus, Calamagrostis acutiflora stricta
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      offset in front of:  Miscanthus sinensis 'Malepartus'
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Check out the additional cultivars within the species Pennisetum alopecuroides below. Many are described as only hardy to Zone 6, which makes them unsuitable for my Zone 5 gardens. Will some prove hardier than expected? I can only hope:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • 'Cassion's Choice'  -  3', brilliant red and yellow foliage in autumn
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • 'Caudatum'  -  4', whitish flowers
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • 'Herbstzauber'  -  Autumn Magic, 24", deep rich reddish-brown flowers
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • 'Little Bunny'  -  12"
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • 'Little Honey'  -  9", longitudinal white striped foliage
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • 'National Arboretum'  -  3'
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • 'Paul's Giant'  -  5', very long and fat flower heads, rich red & yellow foliage colour in fall
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • 'Weserbergland'  -  River Weser Mountain Country, 24", large pale flowers, fountain-like habit
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • 'Woodside'  -  2', more suitable for British gardens than most within this species
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Pennisetum setaceum 'Rubrum':  Purple-Leaved Fountain Grass, not perennial, 3-4'x24-30"
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Purple-Leaved Fountain Grass Purple-Leaved Fountain Grass
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      seen in the photos above echoing the dark purple foliage of Perilla frutescens
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        combined with:  Coreopsis verticillata 'Moonbeam' & Iris


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      PHALARIS

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Canary Grass is invasive. The only species grown for ornamental use, Phalaris arundinacea, commonly known as Reed Canary Grass has several well-known cultivars including some nice variegated forms. The one below was once one of the few variegated grasses available. These days, the most suitable use for such highly invasive grasses may be in a container where its growth can be restrained.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Phalaris arundinacea 'Picta':  Gardener's Garters, Ribbon Grass, green leaves with creamy-white stripes

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        very difficult to eradicate once it grows beyond strictly enforced boundaries


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      SESLERIA

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Moor Grass, cool-season clumping grasses, includes many forms excellent for use as groundcover or in mass plantings. Flowers are nondescript, but the foliage is handsome.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Sesleria autumnalis:  Autumn Moor Grass, 18"x24", yellowish-green foliage

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        uses:  good for mass planting
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          offset behind:  Liriope muscari 'Big Blue'
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            beside:  Pennisetum alopecuroides, Ilex x meserveae 'Blue Stallion'


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          SPARTINA

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Cord Grass, warm-season spreading grasses, was once part of the tallgrass prairie. This is an aggressive spreader so be sure to plant it appropriately, where its growth can be curbed such as in pots or tubs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Spartina pectinata:  Prairie Cord Grass, 5-7'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            synonym:  Spartina michauxiana
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              beside:  Spodiopogon sibiricus
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                beside & behind:  Perovskia atriplicifolia
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Spartina pectinata 'Aureomarginata':  Golden-Edged Prairie Cord Grass, 5-7'x3'
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                offset behind:  Lythrum virgatum 'Dropmore Purple'
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  between grasses:  Miscanthus sinensis 'Variegatus' & Calamagrostis acutiflora
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    between grasses:  Panicum virgatum & Miscanthus sinensis 'Variegatus'
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      offset in front of:  Helianthus angustifolius & Miscanthus sinensis 'Zebrinus'


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    SPODIOPOGON

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Frost Grass, also called Graybeard Grass, are warm-season grasses with a low growth habit appropriate to smaller gardens. Very effective, whether planted alone or in groups.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Spodiopogon sibiricus:  Silver Spike Grass, Frost Grass, Graybeard Grass, 42-54"x39"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      sometimes incorrectly called:  Muhlenbergia alpestris or Lasiogrostis splendens
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        appearance:  bamboo-like leaves and stems
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          offset behind:  Achillea filipendulina 'Coronation Gold'
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            combined beside:  Coreopsis verticillata & Liatris spicata
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              between:  Miscanthus sinensens purpurascens & Liatris spicata
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                between:  Eupatorium purpureum & Spartina pectinata
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  offset in front of:  Viburnum, Miscanthus sinensis 'Gracillimus'
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    offset in front of:  Hibiscus moscheutos, Boltonia asteroides 'Snowbank' & Perovskia atriplicifolia


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  FOR MORE ORNAMENTAL GRASSES & THEIR COMPANIONS, FOLLOW THE LINK BELOW


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  All of our own Gardens By The Bay pages can be accessed by clicking on the links below.


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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  HOSTA    Hosta - all

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  HUMMINGBIRD-FRIENDLY PERENNIALS    Alcea - Salvia

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  ORANGE PERENNIALS    Achillea - Tulipa

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  ORNAMENTAL GRASSES    Acorus - Imperata |  Miscanthus - Spodiopogon

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  PINK PERENNIALS    Achillea - Lilium  |  Lychnis - Veronica

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  PURPLE PERENNIALS    Aconitum - Liatris  |  Polemonium - Veronica

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  RED PERENNIALS    Achillea - Veronica

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  SHADE PERENNIALS    Aegopodium - Erythronium  |  Ferns - Polemonium  |  Polygonatum - Vinca

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  SILVER FOLIAGE PERENNIALS    Achillea - Cerastium    |    Cornus - Limonium    |    Lunaria - Veronica

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  SIMPLY SPECIAL PERENNIALS    Acanthus - Saxifraga

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  WHITE PERENNIALS    Achillea - Iris  |  Kalimeris - Yucca

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  YELLOW PERENNIALS    Achillea - Hypericum  |  Inula - Verbascum

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  VARIEGATED-FOLIAGE PERENNIALS    Acorus - Erythronium  |  Hakonechloa - Lysimachia  |  Miscanthus - Yucca

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Paeonia tenuifolia  |  Papaver somniferum  |  Rudbeckia  |  Salvia 'East Friesland'

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