- Poor clay soil
- That stays wet for too long
- And your yard is infested (I mean pleasantly occupied) with deer
- And there isn't a shaded spot to be found
When I first laid eyes on an ornamental grass years ago, it was like I missed the true beauty sitting by herself in the back of the room.
I had been distracted all along by the "popular" plants that looked all sexy and were throwing themselves at me. Sure they're great the day you take them home, but man they look harsh the next morning and you just hope they'll come up out of the soil and jump into the compost heap, never to be heard from again.
Real brief bit of history - Ornamental grasses were popular during the Victorian era back in the 1800's as they were appreciated for their naturalistic look and for being a bit tropical. They then fell out of favor until the 1970's and 1980's. One of the premier landscape architect's of the time, German Wolfgang Oehme, from Germany, displayed his love of ornamental grasses all over Washington DC and the movement was on. Other influential grass lovers of the time include James Van Sweden and Kurt Bluemel.
Quick side note - a must read is Ornamental Grasses: Wolfgang Oehme and the New American Garden
Why I have so much OG love:
- They are trouble free, other than a haircut in early spring before new growth emerges
- They have no issues with insects and disease
- They are TRULY deer resistant
- They catch light so well which only enhances their beauty
Miscanthus 'Morning Light'
Calamagrostis 'Karl Foerster' blooms
- They provide movement in the garden when wind swept; a way underrated design element
- They manage to hold a level of interest even in the winter
- They can be massed for screening purposes or as a backdrop to other shrubs and perennials.
Calamagrostis 'Karl Foerster' as a backdrop, just planted this spring
- They can act as an accent or as a focal point. My preference is to use them in mixed borders for contrasting purposes.
- They look fantastic in containers as the "thriller" element
- There are cool season and warm season varieties of OG's which give you OG love at all times of season.
Cool season grasses emerge sooner in the Spring and bloom earlier (July) as well. This is Calamagrostis 'El Dorado' in April
Warm season grasses are slower to emerge in the Spring but also bloom in early Fall when most other plants are on their way out. This is Miscanthus 'Gracillimus' as of this week.
- A few different varieties I've got planted:
Miscanthus 'Super Stripe'
Chasmanthium Latifolium (Northern Sea Oats)
A young Miscanthus 'Variegatus"
- While dividing an OG may require a hacksaw, once done they quickly establish themselves. I divided one Panicum into the three divisions below in the spring:
Thank you for indulging my OG obsession. It is always at a high this time of year. I look forward to adding even more in the spring 2011.
Have a great weekend!