Tuesday, Jun 28, 2016
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio

Kelly Heidbreder

IN THE GARDEN

Autumn grasses reach for the sky

Kelly-Heidbreder

Kelly Heidbreder

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When most of the plants in our garden are starting to shut down for the winter, there are still some that like to show off. Your ornamental grasses are at their glory whipping in the wind at this time of the season. And here’s the best part — you don’t have to touch them until spring!

Taking care 
of business

We have more than just short, tight perennial grass in our yard. The rye and bluegrasses are going dormant for the winter, and so are their taller relatives.

Ornamental grasses are well-built for any Midwest landscape. They can handle the roller coaster of temperatures and the wet and dry months, year after year. These prairie favorites grow really well in groups, on their own. They can become a standard ground cover, become a beautiful spikey border or become that big show-stopper in the middle of your landscape.

What is in your landscape

Do you even know what kind of grass you have in your landscape? Maiden Grass is green and white and gets about six feet tall. To me, it looks like a beautiful lady with a great haircut; full and graceful.

Porcupine Grass and zebra grass are green and yellow. Zebra grass will reach seven feet tall and porcupine grass is a little smaller and has a blue hue. This is a fun change to the vertical stripes of other variegated grasses. They both have horizontal stripes and when you see it growing in a nice clump, you can see its spiky resemblance to the zebra and porcupine.

There are a few other short, tight clumping grasses like Blue Oat Grass and it gets only a couple feet tall and has a nice blue green color. There’s a small Blue Fescue that stands by its name with a unique blue color and only gets about a foot tall. Ribbon Grass is very popular in many landscapes. I have a dozen or so in my yard. It is green with a thick white ribbon and gets about three feet tall making it a good choice for a middle row plant in the landscape to fill in the bare spots.

Some grasses have very showy seed heads like Northern Sea Oats. It is green and gets just over three feet tall, with flat seed heads. They look like they are dripping off the stems and are green in the late summer, then turn bronze and tan in the fall, hanging there all winter. Feather Reed Grass is more of a yellow green color and will grow up to five feet tall and it has flowers at the top that are light and whispy, earning their name as feathers.

Can’t forget about the big guys. Giant Miscanthus will shoot to 10 feet tall with dark green spikes. Enjoy this late season landscape and don’t forget to take pictures for your garden journal.

Contact Kelly Heidbreder at getgrowing@gmail.com 

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