I spent yesterday morning out at Weston Nurseries in Hopkinton looking at plants with a friend and client of mine. Though we were checking out large evergreen trees for a privacy screen, I couldn’t help but be drawn to the ornamental grass area. It’s this time of year that grasses are their most showy.
When selecting an ornamental grass for your own garden, there are 4 main elements to consider.
1. The shape of the grass: Generally ranging from mounded to vase shape to upright.
2. The mature size of the grass: This is important, since some of these stay around 1 foot tall while others can reach to 8 feet or more!
3. The light conditions: Most grasses do require full sun. There are a couple, including Hakonechloa and Carex, that like some shade.
4. Know your Zone: There are a number of grasses available at the nursery that are great for seasonal container displays, but are not zoned to be perennial in our area. Check your zone at the USDA website and check the plant tag to make sure the grass you select will survive the winter.
Grasses work wonders in the New England garden, adding lots of interest in the fall. And leave them alone through the winter, their seed heads and foliage look great covered with frost or snow. The best time to cut most ornamental grasses is in early spring, before they start to send out foliage for the new season. Give them a haircut (to about 6″ above the surface of the ground) and they’ll be ready for the new growth season.
I snapped a few pictures of the different grasses to illustrate the difference in size, form, color, leaf shape and flower shape.