In The Garden: Decorative Grasses

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Submitted by Joan Regan

Last year, a few of us gals left the Peninsula and ventured out to see some gardens and one of them was Willow Farm Grasses in Bognor, ON. Karen Young gave us a great tour of her gardens and the many grasses she had to offer, for any spot in any garden.
For those wishing for an “easy peasy” garden maybe some grasses are the answer. All that is required is some fairly good soil, and in most cases, sun. Loving the look of some grasses when they are swaying with a gentle breeze.
Grasses seem to fit in with any garden and there are so many to chose from now. I love the look of a grass garden. Some suggestions I have seen are:
-The popular Karl Forester: a four season grass that looks especially good in groups of threes.
-Blue Lyme Grass: beautiful grey blue grass but a tad aggressive.
-Oat Grass: variegated green and white stripes, also show well in groups.
-Japanese Silver grass: likes her feet wet, so good for a waterfront garden, and as a bonus, plumes will get attention all year long.
-Her cousin the Variegated Silver Grass: three feet tall with a yellow tinged stripe with white make a big statement in any grass garden. Both the yellow and silver striped grasses will tolerate part shade, something to keep in mind with all of our trees up here on the peninsula.
-Zebra Grass: this guy will get big with his yellow and green colour bands running down the stalks. If you’re wanting to make a statement in your garden, or just to have one grass in a corner to shine, this might be the one to consider. A tall grass – if happy will reach 5-7 ft. tall.
So, so many ways to use grasses in the garden. Just grasses alone with no other plants with the bed covered with gravel or mulch – wow what a show that is. Although I do prefer a huge rock and/or a large weathered tree root in a grass only garden, another great look in a grass garden is to add some perennials, ones that will clump and not travel like Lupines (careful with the seeds), Shasta Daisies, Irises, Cone flowers, Tulips and Daffodils in the spring, and hardy Mums and Sedums when heading into the fall. Hostas of course – saw a front garden in Lynden with nothing but Hostas and Grasses – very large Hostas (so not to be lost). It looked wonderful and so different.
Another way to use grasses in the garden…… my new favorite way of gardening – containers. Filled with colour. There are an assortment of Dwarf Grasses that do love to be in containers and will winter over quite well with proper drainage. Almost tempts me to cut down the trees on our north side out back and put in a huge grass garden. NOT.
We do have the luxury up here of having two excellent Nurseries that can supply our need and to help us with our selections; Peninsula Out of Doors and Earth Bound Perennials. Always a good selection, and yes, Lilies do look fantastic in a grass garden as well.
Thinking of adding to or putting in a new garden, grasses might just be something to ponder.
Happy Gardening, Happy August (sorry August, but you have arrived way too soon),
Joni
jpregan@amtelecom.net 519-596-2389