During spring and summer,
ornamental grasses are perennials that provide a graceful, green
backdrop in the garden, but in fall and winter as other plants go
dormant and disappear, ornamental grasses suddenly emerge as focal
points in the garden. Their fluffy seed heads appear and sway
delicately in the breeze and their arching foliage turns a golden
tan. In winter, a light dusting of snow clings to their flowers and
foliage, outlining their attractive shape. Their stems and leaves
rustle in the slightest breeze, providing an almost musical sound
during winter. Set against a backdrop of snow, ornamental grasses
really stand out in the winter garden. To enjoy their beauty all
winter long, I don't cut back my ornamental grasses until a nice warm
day in March. Click on a plant name
below to order it from Pernell Gerver's Online Store.
are many different types of ornamental grasses. One of my favorites
is miscanthus. Of the many varieties of miscanthus, one of the best
Miscanthus 'Adagio.' It's much more
compact than most miscanthus. It forms a handsome clump of slender,
arching foliage about four feet high and wide. It produces an
abundance of flower plumes that appear in mid August. The foliage has
a thin stripe of white running down the center of each leaf. Because
of its compact size, it's a good choice for a small garden.
is one of the best ornamental grasses for shade. It forms a dense
mass of arching stems variegated with gold and white that really
brighten up a shady spot in the garden. All the stems arch downward
in the same direction, creating a flowing effect. Hakonechloa is a
dwarf ornamental grass, growing only about a foot and a half tall and
a couple of feet wide.
nice ornamental grass for smaller gardens is dwarf
fountain grass. The variety 'Hameln'
forms a perfect, rounded mound of arching foliage. It grows only
about two feet high and wide. Rising through the foliage are
bottle-brush-shaped flower plumes. The flowers appear in late summer
and remain attractive through winter.
of the best grasses for an upright accent in the garden is feather
reed grass. It forms a low base
of arching green leaves. The foliage only stands about two feet high.
Rising through the center of the foliage are stiff, upright flower
plumes that stand three to four feet tall. The flower plumes are
slender and turn tan in late summer. To me they resemble stalks of
wheat. Set off against an evergreen backdrop, the flowers really
grass is a beautiful ornamental grass prized for its large flower
plumes. Unfortunately for gardeners here in western Massachusetts,
pampas grass is not hardy, but there is a substitute that closely
resembles pampas grass that is hardy here. It's called ravenna
grass. It's also sometimes
called northern pampas grass. It's a large ornamental grass that
makes a wonderful specimen plant in the garden. It can also be used
for screening. It forms a large clump of arching foliage that stands
five to six feet high and wide. Flower plumes tower over the foliage,
held on stems that easily reach 14 feet tall or more. In my garden,
the flower plumes are so tall I can see them swaying in the breeze
from a second-floor window! The huge silvery flower plumes are about
a foot long and really do resemble pampas grass.