The lovely arching shape and spectacular color of blue
Ornamental grasses are popular with garden designers because
of their variety of size, form and color. They are adaptable
to a range of sites including dry slopes, wetland margins
and sunny or shady locations. The grasses can be classed into
two major groupings: the warm-season ones and the cool-season
ones. Cool-season species, such as blue oat grass (Helictotrichon
sempervirens) and yellow foxtail grass (Alopecurus pratensis
'Aureus'), flourish in spring and tend to be smaller. Warm-season
grasses, such as miscanthus and switch grass (Panicum virgatum),
reach their potential in late summer and early fall. They
need a bit more space than their cool-season counterparts.
Use species from either group as stand-alone accent plants,
companion plants in borders and groundcovers. They also
make great living screens and barriers.
Uses in the Garden
Taller, bulkier grasses such as the impressive plume grass
(Erianthus ravennae), giant Chinese silver grass (Miscanthus
floridulus) and giant cane (Arundo donax) are commonly
used to fill sunny corners, define property boundaries and
screen objectionable views. Tall clump-forming grasses such
as miscanthus, feather reed and switch grass species make
wonderful focal points throughout the garden. Be sure to leave
enough space around them, so they can reach their full size
and shape. When used around pools, decks and patios, variegated
forms of taller spiky subjects, such as zebra grass (Miscanthus
sinensis 'Zebrinus'), with its gold bars on green foliage,
and variegated maiden grass (M. sinensis 'Variegatus'),
with its green leaves with white stripes, draw the eye upwards.
As bookend plantings, they can be used to mark the approaches
to steps, ramps or pathways.