Gorgeous Grasses

Credit: David Jones

Grasses in terra-cotta pots depict summer with sun-loving ease and tousled nonchalance. The three ornamental grasses shown on the cover require little attention. On the left is blue oat grass (Helictotrichon sempervirens, also shown in above photo). Its glaucous foliage develops into a neat, hemispherical mound of about 60 centimetres. In June inflorescences dance above the leaves, evergreen (well… everblue, really) reaching 1.2 metres in height. Groom plants each spring by running your hands through the foliage and gently tugging out the old leaves. This works better than cutting them to the ground, which can cause damage to the clump. (Zone 4)

The pot on the right shows off variegated purple moor grass (Molinia caerulea ‘Variegata’). In summer, its dense inflorescences are held close to the clump of leaves on characteristic gold stems. One of the best small garden grasses, it thrives in full sun or a bit of shade. (Zone 5)

In the back pot are the arching leaves of a golden-variegated cultivar of maiden grass (Miscanthus sinensis), likely ‘Goldfeder.’ Easier to locate here in B.C. are ‘Zebrinus’ and the more-erect ‘Strictus’ (both with stripes running across the leaf) and ‘Gracillimus,’ with its elegant narrow leaves embellished with a narrow white band. Maiden grasses bloom in the fall and generally reach one to 1.5 metres in height. (Zone 5)