= Full Sun
(PPAF) = Propagation of this plant prohibited without a license.
Current Staff's Favorite Plant
Sterling Spring blooming shrubs, plus head-turning Perennials.
Here’s the tall and short of it…
Sterling spring blooming shrubs, all dressed in classy green leaves and crisp white flowers. Viburnum plicatum ‘Summer Snowflake’ is the largest of our featured shrubs, fashioning graceful somewhat horizontal branches adorned with snowy lace caps. Cultivated since 1868, well-loved Spiraea x vanhouttei makes a shapely low maintenance addition to sunny mixed borders, while smaller-statured Deutzia gracilis ‘Nikko' offers a galaxy of dainty white blooms perfect for the rockery, nestled along steps or in a container.
Head turning Perennials
Nearly 65” of rain coupled with chilly spring days spawned a remarkable surge of lush foliar growth, plus spectacular long-lasting flowers in our nursery & garden this year. Spring is always such an exciting time as we watch the multitude of leaves, buds and blooms that seemingly unfurl over night plus the numerous new shoots stretching skyward. Dicentra ‘Gold Heart’s delicate golden foliage glows in dappled shady niches, while the dark leaves of Eupatorium ‘Chocolate’, Astrantia ‘Moulin Rouge's exquisite domes, and the richly colored Sedum ‘Jose Aubergine’ promise to turn more than a few heads in your garden. Perhaps you could let Campanula ‘Blue Waterfall’ cascade down your garden steps, or brighten up a sunny bed with Geum ‘Prinses Juliana’. We hope you’ll make room for a few of these shrubs & perennials. Our extensive display borders which surround the nursery are now open through Colombus Day weekend. Our first guided Saturday Stroll is June 24th., followed by July 15th & 29th. We hope you’ll come visit us this summer.Digging Dog's June 2017 Newsletter Link"
Digging Dog Nursery
a retail and mail order plant nursery specializing in unusual and hard to find perennials, ornamental grasses, shrubs, trees, and vines.
31101 Middle Ridge Rd.
Tues 10 am – 4 pm
Order the 2017 Catalog printed on genuine paper for $2.
“You come so highly recommended from a gardening friend that I'm making an exception and adding yet another mail order company to the lines I like to do business with. Your selection is wonderful!”
~Sylvia in California
Grasses at Digging Dog:
The wiry, silver gray-striped, fine textured olive-green foliage of this playful low grower is topped with pink panicles, which turn white. Small-statured ‘Adagio’ is perfect for a tight spot and as a companion to pewter-tinged leaves such as Stachys ‘Helen von Stein’ or Geranium x riversleaianum ‘Mavis Simpson’.
Size: 4' 0" high x 3' 0" wide; hardy to zone 7.
Miscanthus sinensis ‘Adagio’ (G-0468)
Slender grayish green blades dress up with pewter midribs while forming a fine textured compact clump. Sojourning well above the tailored pedestal, a profusion of silver washed, feathery white panicles glimmer in the late season sun. ‘Allegro’ orchestrates an upbeat medium-sized silhouette, and in fall conducts a colorful finale as tangerine shades transform its blades.
Blooms August – November.
Size: 4' 0"–4-2/3' high x 3' 0" wide; hardy to zone 6.
Miscanthus sinensis ‘Allegro’ (G-0498)
(formerly sold as Miscanthus transmorrisonensis)
Don’t let the clunky name fool you. Of all the Miscanthus, this is the most graceful. Planted en masse, silky silver flowers held on gently arching stems look like water flowing from a fountain of evergreen foliage. As a specimen, it should be planted in a raised area in order to appreciate its weeping form.
Size: 6' 0"–7' 0" high x 6' 0"–7' 0" wide; hardy to zone 7.
Miscanthus sinensis var. condensatus (G-0025)
Usher this towering variegated aristocrat into your landscape and a bold statement is yours to enjoy. Wide semievergreen blades feature white streaked margins and green centers with creamy white vertical stripes. Strong stems hurl skyward, supporting the outward arching foliage and, come late summer, they unfurl a sea of silky copper red tassels, eventually maturing to fawn-colored seed heads.
Discovered in Japan during the 1940s, the mighty 'Cosmopolitan' shapes a robust, dense, yet billowy mass that never flops, serves well as a noble specimen, hedge or screen, and rustles delightfully in the wind.
Blooms August – November.
Size: 6' 0"–8' 0" high x 5' 0"–7' 0" wide; hardy to zone 6.
Miscanthus sinensis var. condensatus ‘Cosmopolitan’ (G-0499)
Gorgeous deep burgundy flower heads that eventually lighten to a creamy chroma, and sparkling silver midribs invigorate ‘Ferner Osten’s dense, arching mass of dark green blades. Introduced by the esteemed German nurseryman Ernst Pagels, this paramount Miscanthus sports a vigorous, yet compact guise that holds its own as a vibrant specimen and looks especially sensational when planted in a drift. 4–5´ x 3´; August–November. Zone 6.
Size: 4' 0"–5' 0" high x 3' 0" wide; hardy to zone 6.
Miscanthus sinensis ‘Ferner Osten’ (G-0042)
Prepare yourself for a sterling, late season splash as silky plumes glow in golden splendor, and later flaunt sophisticated silvered shades. While narrow blades with prominent midribs sport a pearly sheen and maintain their composure late into the season, this slender beauty stands in sharp relief to a coarse-textured carpet of Trachystemon orientalis at its base.
Size: 5' 0"–6' 0" high x 3' 0" wide; hardy to zone 5.
Miscanthus sinensis ‘Gold and Silver’ (G-0484)
Compact Zebra Grass
Sharing many of the attributes of its larger, better-known relation, Miscanthus ‘Zebrinus’, this preeminent specimen is noticeably smaller. Introduced by Hines Nursery of California, ‘Hinjo’ displays copper-colored blooms and lax foliage with bold yellow stripes in an irregular, horizontal pattern. The bands are set more closely, and especially when viewed from afar, create a spellbinding effect. An excellent option for a garden with limited room, Compact Zebra Grass maintains a good form, and is a high-spirited companion for Rudbeckia triloba ‘Prairie Glow’ and Sedum ‘Mr. Goodbud’.
Blooms September – November.
Size: 5' 0"–6' 0" high x 3' 0"–3-1/2' wide; hardy to zone 5.
Miscanthus sinensis ‘Hinjo’ (G-0452)
One of the finest summer blooming Miscanthus, this robust Ernest Pagels creation draws its name from the elegant cascading blooms. Rosy colored and large, measuring nearly 10 in. long, the early-to-unfurl inflorescences feature pendant openly arranged branches lolling a good ways beyond the fo-liage. Narrow leaves don white midribs while shaping an upright pillar that come autumn blazes coppery reds and finally bleaches to pewter, in perfect harmony with the mature silver buff racemes.
Size: 6' 0" high x 3' 0"–4' 0" wide; hardy to zone 5.
Miscanthus sinensis ‘Kaskade’ (G-0490)
The preeminent plantsman, Ernest Pagels, out did himself when he bred this exquisite ornamental grass, considered by many to be the most beautiful of the more diminutive Miscanthus. Its merits are numerous: an elegant compact silhouette, early-to-bloom rouge- tinged flowers held well above fine-textured blades and excellent cold hardiness. Unlikely to overwhelm its neighbors, ‘Little Fountain’ effectively ushers arching, deep green fluid accents and stylish long lasting plumes into any planting, especially those short on space.
Size: 3' 0"–4-1/2' high x 3' 0"–3-1/2' wide; hardy to zone 5.
Miscanthus sinensis ‘Kleine Fontaine’ (G-0535)
Dwarf Maiden Grass
Originating as a Miscanthus ‘Yaku Jima’ seedling, ‘Little Kitten’ is a pleasingly bushy mound; its compact form is just right for those who want the drama of ornamental grasses in an intimate setting. Thin, silver-green wiry leaves are decorated in fall by an elegantly spare show of small, silvery plumes. Plant en masse with Eryngium variifolium.
Size: 2' 0"–2-1/2' high x 18" wide; hardy to zone 5.
Miscanthus sinensis ‘Little Kitten’ (G-0094)
Esteemed German plantsman Ernest Pagels had a trained eye for making stellar grass selections, and this colorful cultivar is no exception. Hoisted on thick wine-tinged stems, large, abundant crimped plumes appear early, showing off lustrous coppery purple hues, which eventually lighten to silver. The vigorous rounded clump of broad and lax rich green blades with ash-striped midribs can pose as a picturesque specimen in a mixed border, where its bronze, red and orange fall hues will surely draw attention.
Blooms September – November.
Size: 5' 0"–7' 0" high x 3' 0"–4' 0" wide; hardy to zone 5.
Miscanthus sinensis ‘Malepartus’ (G-0515)
Silver Variegated Maiden Grass
Delicate, vertical stripes of creamy white grace the long, narrow green blades of ‘Morning Light’, creating a splash of fine foliage that would satisfy even without the feathery, pinkish panicles that appear just above. A beauty!
Size: 5' 0" high x 3' 0" wide; hardy to zone 5.
Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’ (G-0011)
Deep rosy violet stems and seed heads rise above the slightly broader, lush green blades. If you’ve wanted to try a Miscanthus, but have a smaller scale garden, here’s the plant for you.
Size: 4' 0" high x 2' 0" wide; hardy to zone 5.
Miscanthus sinensis ‘Nippon’ (G-0012)
A graceful standout, ‘Positano’ warms the fall landscape with sunkissed colors. Large, red, glistening plumes are cast well above the impressive upright fountain of arching, fine textured blades. Etched by pewter midribs, the foliage grows in a sophisticated crisscross pattern and when fall arrives, transmutes toasty reds and oranges.
Revered grass aficionado Ernst Pagels raised this clump-forming cultivar whose first-class profile and rich hues can accentuate Rudbeckia ‘Goldquelle’ and Helianthus ‘Capenoch Star’.
Size: 6' 0"–7' 0" high x 3' 0"–5' 0" wide; hardy to zone 5.
Miscanthus sinensis ‘Positano’ (G-0491)
If your garden is short on space, ‘Rigoletto’ is a brightly patterned treasure that you’ll want to squeeze in.
More compact and smaller scaled than ‘Variegatus’, this Kurt Bluemel introduction parades slender blades inscribed with gleaming white vertical stripes. Topped by red-tinged flowering plumes, the loose gracefully arching clump asserts dramatic ivory-toned highlights for the landscape or for a glazed cobalt-blue container.
Size: 3' 0"–4' 0" high x 2-1/2'–3' 0" wide; hardy to zone 5.
Miscanthus sinensis ‘Rigoletto’ (G-0485)
Aptly named, ‘Rotsilber’ translates “red and silver,” which denotes the showy flowers’ intriguing evolution. Emerging crimped and flushed in lustrous red tones atop green and wine-tinted stems, the plumes later attain a silver splashed, soft fluffy appearance. Ernst Pagels introduced this impressive upright selection whose slim and compact, energetic green blades are enhanced by steel-hued midribs and passionate orange and maroon fall colors, forging a stately stand-alone specimen for the mixed border or a more untamed locale.
Blooms August – November.
Size: 4' 0"–5' 0" high x 3' 0" wide; hardy to zone 5.
Miscanthus sinensis ‘Rotsilber’ (G-0041)
‘Sarabande’ really puts on a show with sprays of blush-hued flowers that emerge straight as arrows, then open looking freshly crimped and fade to silver. Graceful, swaying stems and a fine flourish of foliage complete the three-tiered effect. The variegated leaf blades have an olive cast that harmonizes nicely with silver and gray-foliaged plants. We’ve seen ‘Sarabande’ maintain its composure through the worst of coastal gales.
Size: 5' 0"–6' 0" high x 3' 0" wide; hardy to zone 4.
Miscanthus sinensis ‘Sarabande’ (G-0013)
Coined ‘Silver Tower’, this kingly cultivar is the best tall growing Miscanthus we know. Asserting a BIG and bold grandeur in the landscape, the lush column of long broad foliar ribbons, which arch out and down in a lax manner, gracefully rises heavenbound. Large, loosely arranged silver plumes shimmer when they catch the sun nearly 10 spectacular feet above us.
Whether it’s mixed with tropicals, framing a threshold or premiered as a towering specimen, the magnificent ‘Silberturm’ exhibits a fine form all season and will surely turn quite a few heads.
Size: 8' 0"–9' 0" high x 5' 0"–6' 0" wide; hardy to zone 6.
Miscanthus sinensis ‘Silberturm’ (G-0492)
Sharing many of the attributes of its more common relation, Zebra Grass, this preeminent specimen is a bit denser, stiffer, and more upright. Beautifully at home at water’s edge, ‘Strictus’ displays coppery blooms and lax foliage with bold blond-colored stripes in an irregular, horizontal pattern. When viewed from afar, the warm bands create a spellbinding effect.
Porcupine Grass maintains a good form, and is a high-spirited companion for Bergenia ‘Bressingham White’ and Sedum ‘Matrona’.
Size: 6' 0"–8' 0" high x 3-1/2'–4-1/2' wide; hardy to zone 5.
Miscanthus sinensis ‘Strictus’ (G-0015)
Don’t let the clunky name fool you. Collected from seed at 9500 ft. on Taiwan’s Mount Daxue by Paul Meyer and C. Ferris Miller and introduced in 1979, this is the most graceful of all the Miscanthus. Pendent, silky silver flowers, held on long gently arching stems look like water flowing from a fountain of narrow, glossy green foliage. This clumping grass remains evergreen in warmer climates and can be positioned as a lone specimen, but best shows its low weeping profile and artful beauty when massed, in a raised area or on a slope with Helianthus ‘Santa Fe’ and Aster ‘Raydon’s Favorite’ nearby.
Blooms late July – November.
Size: 4' 0"–5' 0" high x 4' 0"–6' 0" wide; hardy to zone 6.
Miscanthus transmorrisonensis (G-0478)
Innovative landscape architect Wolfgang Oehme, who has included more than a million ornamental grasses in his designs since 1975, considers Molinias to be some of the very best performers of them all. Certainly the most kinetically exciting grass, Molinia’s sturdy stems hold the delicate, straw-colored panicles all season above dense, arching tufts of deep green foliage. To heighten the drama, give them plenty of room and a dark background.
Invite this “friend of the mountain” into your garden bed and it will quickly become your friend as well. Dynamic yet not too imposing, a gauzy array of gently pendulous, rich-colored reddish purple panicles mingle on dark green upright stems. Handsome foliage forms a low green stage that radiates yellow hues in autumn. Studded with ricelike beads transmuting warm chestnut hues when mature, the airy plumes should be headlined right up front where they become a mysterious veil that you can peer through.
Size: 4' 0"–5' 0" high x 3' 0" wide; hardy to zone 4.
Molinia caerulea ssp. arundinacea ‘Bergfreund’ (G-0489)
A boldly architectural grass thought to be one of famed plant breeder Ernest Pagel's last selections, 'Cordoba' stands nearly 7 ft. tall, a monolithic beacon of dramatic proportions. Noble green blades construct the substantial moderately upright leafy mound, releasing gently arching erect stems and sheer purple-hued seed heads. Its enticing shades of yellow herald autumn with sunshine- soaked leaves and butterscotch-colored waning inflorescences. Recently rediscovered and introduced by Intrinsic Perennial Gardens, this vigorous easily cultivated Molinia relishes cool moist conditions, appreciates additional water during hot spells, makes a statuesque stand-alone and steals the show when massed.
Size: 6' 0"–7' 0" high x 3' 0" wide; hardy to zone 5.
Molinia caerulea ssp. arundinacea ‘Cordoba’ (G-0543)
See-through, delicate plumes on upright and arching stems energetically leap skybound from a green, 2-½ ft. tall foliar pedestal. Bearing the name of the legendary German nurseryman Karl Foerster, this Molinia’s gossamerlike inflorescences first emerge suffused in purply raisin shades, and by fall gilded highlights set the lofty blooms aglow, further heightening the butter yellow hues of the stalks and leaves below.
Blooms June – October.
Size: 6' 0"–7' 0" high x 3' 0" wide; hardy to zone 4.
Molinia caerulea ssp. arundinacea ‘Karl Foerster’ (G-0486)
Donning a sculptural statesmanlike presence and a dancer’s grace, especially when set in motion by summer breezes, this distinctive Kurt Bluemel selection grows narrowly upright. The pendulous grayish green ribbons comprise a low, 2 ft. high mounding clump that launches stiff stems with plum-colored seed heads and feathery, see-through panicles. Still showy in November, both foliage and lofty inflorescences adopt cozy sun-kissed golden yellow and amber fall colors.
Blooms June to October.
Size: 7' 0"–8' 0" high x 3' 0" wide; hardy to zone 4.
Molinia caerulea ssp. arundinacea ‘Skyracer’ (G-0031)
Dark green ribbon-like blades and golden fall color distinguish ‘Staefa’s spiffy 2 to 3 ft. tall mound that debuts a bounty of stiff-stemmed predominately upright airy panicles. Named after a lakeside Swiss city, this stately Molinia can edge a trail, be planted mid-border or viewed from afar, where its captivating fine textured blooms promise a graceful visual feast, either glowing in the afternoon sun, waltzing with the wind or accompanying Sedum ‘Septemberglut’ and Filipendula ‘Venusta Alba’.
Size: 4' 0"–5' 0" high x 3' 0" wide; hardy to zone 4.
Molinia caerulea ssp. arundinacea ‘Staefa’ (G-0056)
Sporting a distinctive upright profile, the narrow tailored column of divergent thin green blades gives way to erect stems closely laden with greenish purple flower spikelets. Misty looking inflorescences offer beguiling glimpses of what lies behind, while flaxen-colored foliage signals autumn. Heather Bride’s striking vertical aspect can be positioned in the rockery, massed in a natural setting or planted as a counterpoint amid smaller more lax-looking plants.
Size: 2-1/2'–4' 0" high x 2' 0"–3' 0" wide; hardy to zone 5.
Molinia caerulea ssp. caerulea ‘Heidebraut’ (G-0549)
An exquisite German selection of Moor Grass, this Molinia's wispy, flaxen-hued inflorescences nimbly sway on 2 ft. slender stems above a pleasing, compact clump of arching and slender green blades, which turns an intense orange-red in autumn. Clearly 'Moorflamme' proclaims its colorful intensity.
Size: 4' 0" high x 2' 0" wide; hardy to zone 4.
Molinia caerulea ssp. caerulea ‘Moorflamme’ (G-0090)
Likened to poetry in motion when a lazy wind stirs, stiff slender stems rise well above widely arching compact blades, bowing under the weight of fine textured, large hazy purple blooms. Ideal for small-scale gardens, the neat slim green leaves and stalks are shorter than our other Molinia selections, and come fall their lambent golden yellow hues invigorate the landscape. This first-rate dwarf cultivar projects a broad light-footed stance that partners well with the magenta flowers of willowy Dianthus carthusianorum.
Size: 2' 0"–3' 0" high x 2' 0"–3' 0" wide; hardy to zone 5.
Molinia caerulea ssp. caerulea ‘Strahlenquelle’ (G-0017)
The cultivar name translates to “enduring ray” for the long lasting beauty this fine textured grass bestows upon the garden. Prancing above robust low growing tufts of emerald green foliage, stiff mostly upright divergent stems showcase elegant panicles with slim dark purple spikelets.
‘Dauerstrahl’ is second-to-none as a container specimen or as a mixed border component, adding late season allure when bright golden yellow hues transform its blades and flowering stalks.
Blooms June – November.
Size: 3' 0"–4' 0" high x 2' 0"–2-1/2' wide; hardy to zone 4.
Molinia caerulea ‘Dauerstrahl’ (G-0531)
This easily maintained cool season grass strikes a formal straight-up stance as its tidy narrow shaft of taut slim green blades presents unbowed needle-thin flower stems. The spiky gossamer-like open panicles yield dark purple inflorescences and plum brown seed heads, a stunning complement to the saffron-hued autumn foliar tones. Second-to-none for seaside or prairie schemes, a border, rockery or gravel garden, ‘Moorhexe’s compelling vertical silhouette effectively offsets lower growing plants like Sanguisorba 'Tanna' and Aster ‘Dream of Beauty’.
Size: 2' 0"–3' 0" high x 18" wide; hardy to zone 4.
Molinia caerulea ‘Moorhexe’ (G-0049)
The cultivar name is German for wind’s game and this grass plays against the sky. Stretching far above mounding 15 in. high, verdant ribbonlike blades, supple stems entertain an aura of tiny copper-colored inflorescences. We position ‘Windspiel’ in the frontlines and plant bold perennials such as Helianthus ‘Gold Lace’ or Vernonia crinita behind to enjoy the subtle other worldliness that’s created by looking through its blooms.
Size: 6' 0"–7' 0" high x 5' 0" wide; hardy to zone 4.
Molinia litoralis ‘Windspiel’ (G-0019)
Named in honor of G. H. E. Muhlenberg, a botanist who specialized in grasses, this large, varied genus includes some of the most visually stunning and enduring ornamental grasses for today’s landscape.
Primarily native to arid range areas of the southern U.S. and Mexico, many Muhlenbergias boast not only arresting inflorescences and foliage, but an exceptional tolerance to heat, sun and drought, providing the soil is well drained, as well as abiding short amounts of dappled shade each day.
Holding their attraction for months, ethereal masses of airy flower panicles are imbued in vivid pinkish red tones, which age to a light buff. This soft-looking mist hovers atop a fine textured, semievergreen clump of glossy dark green foliage. With an unmatched vivacity, particularly when planted in drifts, the Pink Muhly will easily bridge the gap from a garden space into the native habitat.
Blooms September–early December.
Size: 3' 0" high x 3' 0" wide; hardy to zone 6.
Muhlenbergia capillaris (G-0057)
In an illuminated departure from the native species, the finely branched nearly transparent panicles spawn a white wispy haze along the upper reaches of sleek, dark green blades. With cloudlike inflorescences that brighten the landscape well after the first frosts, this tidy clumping Muhly is both stunning and stalwart and can be utilized as a specimen.
Blooms September – early December.
Size: 3' 0" high x 3' 0" wide; hardy to zone 6.
Muhlenbergia capillaris ‘White Cloud’ (G-0507)
This small-scale architectural gem celebrates a finely cut impeccably shaped green mound. Half the size of its taller relative, Muhlenbergia rigens, Pine Muhly's dense mostly evergreen clump of upright narrow cylindrical blades bolsters slim purple-tinged plumes, which blanch to almond shades on rigid, 2 to 3 ft. tall skinny stems. Roaming the higher altitudes of the Chihuahuan desert in west Texas, New Mexico and northern Mexico, Muhlenbergia dubia is undaunted by heat and drought, enjoys sharply drained sites and brings untold elegance to a patio vessel, mass planting or a tight spot.
Blooms August – October.
Size: 2' 0"–3' 0" high x 2' 0"–3' 0" wide; hardy to zone 7.
Muhlenbergia dubia (G-0542)
Noted for its extraordinary fine texture and striking resemblance to bamboo, this warm season grass conveys a lighthearted grace. Delicately branched, upright and arching supple stems and thin light green leaves define the billowy mass that forms a noninvasive clump, preferring occasional water while enduring deer, heat and drought.
Stirring in just about any breeze, the evergreen Bamboo Muhly hails from Arizona and southern Mexico, produces insignificant pale pink flowers and is destined to become an airy counterpoint to Yucca ‘Garland’s Gold’s bold blades or where winter’s are cold, an ethereal container subject.
Size: 3' 0"–6' 0" high x 3' 0"–4' 0" wide; hardy to zone 7.
Muhlenbergia dumosa (G-0458)
Long, open Calamagrostis-like panicles are colored in muted purplish gray tones, aging to an antique silver that festoons the winter landscape. The fine textured, rounded clump of semi-evergreen, blue-gray foliage sends forth slender, perfect-for-cutting inflorescences on upright stems some 2 ft. above.
Whether headlined as a sophisticated specimen or massed, this stunning Muhlenbergia delivers tranquil hues and a tidy enduring visage.
Size: 5' 0" high x 2' 0" wide; hardy to zone 7.
Muhlenbergia lindheimeri (G-0104)
Though the species is indigenous to the limestone outcroppings of northern Texas and southwestern Oklahoma, this exceptional seed strain was collected near Fort Worth, Texas by Lauren Springer and Scott Ogden, and subsequently introduced by Colorado’s Plant Select program. A small growing warm season grass, Muhlenbergia reverchonii’s fine hewn green blades craft a long-lived dense tussock beneath the spectacular late season aura of gauzy reddish mauve inflorescences that appear earlier and are less pink than Muhlenbergia capillaris. The namesake pretty much sums it up–a compact tailored habit performing heroically in cold, drought, heavy clay, sweltering heat and southern humidity. Easy care, warm tawny brown winter interest and an exceptional en masse presence make it indispensable.
Size: 2' 0"–3' 0" high x 18"–2' 0" wide; hardy to zone 5.
Muhlenbergia reverchonii ‘Undaunted ™’ (G-0557)
A long-time resident of California and other southwestern states, this semievergreen Muhlenbergia yields upright, thin and arrowlike silvery inflorescences reaching beyond the narrow, 18 in. high gray-green foliage. Creating a shimmery veiling effect in the landscape and adding pizzazz to dried arrangements, the reflective flowering stalks bend gracefully as they age.
Let Deer Grass weave its way around the contrasting horizontal form of Arctostaphylos ‘Vancouver Jade’, or superimpose it against Lobelia tupa.
Size: 5' 0" high x 4' 0" wide; hardy to zone 7.
Muhlenbergia rigens (G-0036)
The Panicums we’ve chosen are warm season prairie grasses native to North America. Resistant to heat, drought, and even extreme cold, Switch Grass boasts a cloud of inflorescences—a mystifying hologram of tiny red seeds that mature to black in late summer.
If grown en masse and not cut back until early spring, Panicums promise a lively winter show. After a frost, they stiffen and adopt the warm glowing color and soft rustling sound of wheat.
Bitter Switch Grass
Populating Delaware’s coastal sand dunes near the town of Dewey, noted grass expert, Rick Darke selected this kingly Panicum for its blue, oh-so-blue smooth glaucous blades and elegant fountainlike stance. Distinctive straight-up stems bolster light airy plumes, followed by caramel-colored seed heads persisting well into winter. ‘Dewey Blue’ is not only a stunning showman but an enduring workhorse whose slowly spreading rhizomes form clumps that are vital in stabilizing seashore ecosystems, as well as withstanding hot dry summers and varied garden soils.
Blooms August – October.
Size: 4' 0"–5' 0" high x 3' 0" wide; hardy to zone 3.
Panicum amarum ‘Dewey Blue’ (G-0500)
Hats off to North Creek Nursery for this exceptional new Panicum that combines sensational good features with a brawny tough-as-nails temperament. Beneath copious gauzy looking amber-hued seed heads, trim ribbons of upright greenery retain their color ’til November, then transmute buttery yellow shades. Beloved by birds, butterflies, florists and horticulturalists, ‘Cape Breeze’ lauds early blooms plus a no-coddle compact habit, forbearing deer, disease, dry conditions and salt spray. (PP#24,895)
Size: 2' 0"–2-1/2' high x 20"–2' 0" wide; hardy to zone 4.
Panicum virgatum ‘Cape Breeze’ (G-0565)
Tall Switch Grass
It’s not sky high, but ‘Cloud Nine’ does impart visions of grandeur as it rises into a massive, somewhat vase-shaped, blue-green form crowned by a mist of small inflorescences. Autumn brings golden tones to the foliage. This Panicum usually maintains its elegant shape through tough winter months, and is a dynamic partner with Salvia confertiflora for the rest of the season.
Size: 6' 0"–8' 0" high x 3' 0" wide; hardy to zone 4.
Panicum virgatum ‘Cloud Nine’ (G-0082)
Blue Switch Grass
Stiff, upright blades of green turn metallic blue and then warm pecan brown in the fall. We are fond of this dynamic, vertical accenting grass in drifts with Teucrium fruticans ‘Azureum’.
Size: 4' 0"–5' 0" high x 3' 0" wide; hardy to zone 5.
Panicum virgatum ‘Heavy Metal’ (G-0021)
Claiming the coveted 2014 Plant of the Year award, ‘Northwind’s roots can be traced back to the railroad tracks near South Elgin, Illinois, where Roy Diblik collected some native Panicum seeds. Selected from those initial seedlings for its unique unwavering stature, this dashing straight-backed cultivar unleashes a narrow sky-bound clump of broad olive-colored blades with bluish green undersides. Gossamer-textured inflorescences hover just above the leaves, characterized by tiny yellow flowers and purple seed heads. Unsung among ornamental grasses and the most markedly vertical of the Switch grasses, it lends intriguing winter architecture and possesses a dogged determination that triumphs over drought, heavy downpours, varied soil conditions, pesky deer and foliar rust.
Size: 4' 0"–6' 0" high x 2' 0"–2-1/2' wide; hardy to zone 5.
Panicum virgatum ‘Northwind’ (G-0544)
Blue Switch Grass
The bluest of the Panicums and hardiest of the virgatums, this superb selection was discovered growing wild in a Wisconsin meadow by Roger Gettig. Its silvery inflorescences have tiny rust-colored accents, and 'Prairie Sky's fast growing foliage spawns a cool blue fusion when associated with Yucca 'Sapphire Skies' and Eryngium 'Big Blue'.
Blooms July – October.
Size: 3' 0"–5' 0" high x 2-1/2' wide; hardy to zone 4.
Panicum virgatum ‘Prairie Sky’ (G-0080)
Prized for fantastic autumn color and impressive vertical accents, a narrow upstanding clump produces slender grayish green leaves that flaunt dark maroon and violet shades in late summer. The dreamy cloud of finely cut haze-like purple-green spikelets bleaches to beige and persists into winter, while the compact long-lived foliar column wears a buff-tinged cold-weather coat. Abiding drought, wet conditions, clay and erosion, this popular all-purpose native can enhance a stylized meadow or mixed planting, either massed or as a specimen, and hobnob with fellow natives like Eupatoriums and Helianthus 'Gold Lace'.
Size: 3' 0"–4' 0" high x 2' 0"–2-1/2' wide; hardy to zone 5.
Panicum virgatum ‘Rehbraun’ (G-0558)
This exceptional vintage cultivar has withstood the test of time, touting the smallest, most upright foliar foundation with the brightest most enduring red blades of all our Panicum. Suave, fine textured silver-green blades, subtly blushed in late spring, ascend vertically and cushion a lovely diaphanous mass of branched pink-tinged flower panicles. “Red Ray Bush”, as it translates from German, begins broadcasting passionate fiery red foliage in August that ignites the late season border, while companions such as Aster ‘Raydon’s Favorite’, Sedum ‘Mr. Goodbud’ and Kniphofia ‘Yellow Cheer’ inject complementary color.
Size: 4' 0"–5' 0" high x 2' 0"–2-1/2' wide; hardy to zone 5.
Panicum virgatum ‘Rotstrahlbusch’ (G-0059)
Celebrating long lasting appeal and color galore, this exceptional Panicum ‘Heavy Metal’ and Panicum ‘Hänse Herms’ cross was selected by Dr. Mark Brand from the University of Connecticut. Fantastic arching ribbons of foliage initially emerge in soft gray-greens, then in early summer, transmute a vibrant wine-red, which heightens as the season progresses. Loosely arranged, broad tapered blades forge an upright textural clump renown for its unparalleled, richly hued fall finale, while hazy sand-colored inflorescences create winter interest, especially when overlaid with frost or snow (pp#17,944)
Size: 3' 0"–4' 0" high x 2' 0"–2-1/2' wide; hardy to zone 4.
Panicum virgatum ‘Ruby Ribbons’ (G-0517)
Red Switch Grass
One of the best of the red Panicums, ‘Shenandoah’ was selected from ‘Hänse Herms’ seedlings by Germany’s Hans Simon. The slender green leaves exhibit maroon hues in midsummer and, come September, are thoroughly transformed. Paired with Echinops ‘Arctic Glow’, the wine-infused theme is echoed, and backlit by the long light of late afternoon, the glow is ethereal.
Size: 4' 0" high x 2' 0"–2-1/2' wide; hardy to zone 4.
Panicum virgatum ‘Shenandoah’ (G-0091)
Selected from the native prairie grasses of the Midwest for its larger, showier seed heads, this graceful new cultivar has a long list of admirers, including several butterfly species. Sheer red-tinted flower clusters wave good-bye to summer as blue-green blades flaunt a blaze of old golds and maroons that promise to brighten your autumn and maintain a winter presence.
Blooms September – October.
Size: 4' 0"–5' 0" high x 2' 0"–3' 0" wide; hardy to zone 5.
Panicum virgatum ‘Trailblazer’ (G-0076)
The cultivar name of this grass alludes to the blood red hues of the blades and to its strong growing power. Upright and arching, ‘Warrior’s inflorescences rise to 5 or 6 ft., as its red foliar hints intensify through the early season, turning deep reddish brown in late fall and eventually fading to the color of creamed honey. For an army of rosy color, plant with other grasses like Pennisetum orientale.
Size: 5' 0"–6' 0" high x 2' 0"–3' 0" wide; hardy to zone 5.
Panicum virgatum ‘Warrior’ (G-0034)
The soft inflorescences take their name from the Latin words penna and seta meaning feather-bristle. This lovely grass is a favorite, distinguished by arching, feathery bottlebrush flowers spilling over a cascading mound of foliage.
A warm season grower, Fountain Grass welcomes hot weather and is widely distributed in both tropical and temperate areas.
Standing taller than most alopecuroides species, this spectacular Kurt Bluemel selection has a lot to brag about beside its inherent good looks: no stray seedlings, exceptional vigor and reliable longevity. Narrow green foliage defines the large upright fountain-shaped clump that’s topped with a fluffy 5 ft. high gathering of tan-colored plumes. Aptly named, ‘Foxtrot’ dances to the slightest breeze amid late blooming perennial cohorts such as Phlox ‘Jeana’, Heliopsis ‘Summer Nights’ and Gaura ‘White Heron’.
Blooms late July-October
Size: 5' 0" high x 4' 0" wide; hardy to zone 5.
Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Foxtrot’ (G-0550)
Honoring German horticulturist Cassian Schmidt, this graceful midsized Kurt Bluemel selection sparks our interest through three seasons. Its compact fluid form sets the stage for fawn-colored bristlelike cylinders that softly linger just above elegant foliar blades. In a grand finale of arresting warmth, the autumnal leaves celebrate lavish gilded highlights and red hues, which definitely earns ‘Cassian’ a front row seat in our mixed border.
Size: 3' 0" high x 2-1/2'–3' 0" wide; hardy to zone 6.
Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Cassian’ (G-0487)
Dwarf Fountain Grass
Its compact habit and finely textured foliage make this one of the most popular Pennisetum cultivars. More darkly hued than most Pennisetum alopecuroides, the foliar mound is very upright and dome-shaped, playing host to the plump, slightly curved and creamy green flower heads that arch at least a foot aloft. Alighting on wiry slender stems held by fanlike sheaves, the fuzzy inflorescences bloom earlier than the species.
To heighten the garden drama, let ‘Hameln’ anchor a riot of Asters and Nepetas.
Blooms late July – October.
Size: 2' 0"–2-1/2' high x 2-1/2' wide; hardy to zone 6.
Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Hameln’ (G-0465)
Black Fountain Grass
Flowing with deep green, fairly wide, glossy foliage, ‘Moudry’ forms a burnished, tidy-looking basal mound. The showy cylindrical spikes resemble large dense foxtails, as they arise on stiff stalks just above lush deciduous leaves, which color to yellow and orange come autumn.
Unparalleled among other ornamental grasses, the phenomenal fuzzy blooms impart dark purple-black shades, and make excellent cut flowers, fresh or dried. Introduced by the National Arboretum from a batch of Japanese seeds, fall blooming Black Fountain Grass is indispensable for its late season appeal in the mixed border.
Size: 2' 0" high x 2' 0"–2-1/2' wide; hardy to zone 6.
Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Moudry’ (G-0453)
If you are looking for a perfectly sized Pennisetum that’s loaded with fluffy blooms and doesn’t require much care, this new cultivar may be your answer. Though ‘Piglet’ is small statured, about half the size of Pennisetum ‘Hameln’, it’s certainly not the runt of the litter, growing taller and more substantial than ‘Little Bunny’.
Easy to tuck into a tight, well drained space amid Asters and Astrantia ‘Buckland’, it’s long lived, fine textured green foliage supports a light-as-air profusion of tawny-colored cylindrical blooms. (pp#19,074)
Blooms August – October.
Size: 18" high x 18"–2' 0" wide. Zone 5/6.
Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Piglet’ (G-0516)
Selected by Intrinsic Perennials’ owner, Brent Horvath, ‘Red Head’ bolsters wondrous quantities of deep purple buds and huge, furry bottlebrush-like muted violet plumes, some 9 in. long and 3 in. wide. The stylish long lasting inflorescences appear earlier than most alopecuroides above a rounded arching green fountain. Projecting a tailored appearance throughout the season, which brightens autumn with golden yellow hues, this Pennisetum ‘National Arboretum’ offspring can be planted in drifts for kinetic drama or utilized as a marvelous color-rich specimen amid perennials.
Size: 4' 0" high x 4' 0" wide; hardy to zone 5.
Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Red Head’ (G-0566)
Described by a definitive architectural silhouette, this possible Pennisetum incomptum seedling sprung up in the Pomona Nursery of noted grass enthusiast, John Greenlee. Erect, light pink tapering ‘tails’ on upright stems attain delightful deep wheat colors when mature, appearing somewhat denser and not as airy as other Pennisetum species.
The attractive semievergreen clump of refined gray-green blades withstands both heat and drought, and brings strong vertical elements to Stipa gigantea’s more relaxed habit and a low growing drift of Sesleria ‘John Greenlee’. (PPAF)
Size: 3' 0"–5' 0" high x 2' 0"–3' 0" wide. Zone 7/8.
Pennisetum ‘Fairy Tails’ (G-0523)
Red Button Fountain Grass
The species inhabits the wide open savannas of Africa, and this distinctive red flowered cultivar will flourish in your garden, given a well drained sunny locale. Waving bushy, warm-colored inflorescences that eventually lighten to a creamy tan, the delicate slender stems rise high above graceful flowing mounds of broad maroon-tinted green blades. Long blooming ‘Red Buttons’ can be featured as a stellar addition to floral arrangements, as a container subject or a mixed border specimen, enduring hot dry conditions, but not terribly cold winters.
Blooms July – September.
Size: 2' 0"–3' 0" high x 2' 0"–3' 0" wide; hardy to zone 7.
Pennisetum massaicum ‘Red Buttons’ (G-0510)
Orient Fountain Grass
A dense, rounded clump of narrow arching leaves explodes into long blooming, fuzzy, copper-pink flower spikes, exquisite in large drifts or contrasted with broad-leafed perennials, like Helenium ‘Zimbelstern’. Backlight this grass and enjoy a fountain of color and youth.
Size: 12"–2' 0" high x 2' 0" wide; hardy to zone 6.
Pennisetum orientale (G-0023)
Giant Fountain Grass
Vigorous and heat-loving, and much larger than the species, this bushy Pakistani cultivar has a 3 to 4 ft. vaselike clump of green foliage, with wonderfully whitish “tails” touched by a muted pink ascending a full foot higher. Giant Fountain Grass makes a compelling ingredient in the mixed border, especially with tall Achilleas and Angelica gigas nearby.
Size: 5-1/2' high x 3' 0" wide; hardy to zone 6.
Pennisetum orientale ‘Tall Tails’ (G-0093)
Slender Veldt Grass
A denizen of South Africa, this drought tolerant evergreen grass has low growing, narrow dark green blades that provide a verdant contrast to its tawny colored tapers. The dense, abundantly produced inflorescences hover on jointed nearly invisible stems, some 2 to 3 ft. tall, while fashioning a delightful see-through veil.
Especially mesmerizing when grouped in a dry creek bed, a meadow or a water wise garden, the Slender Veldt Grass asks only for a well drained abode.
Blooms June – October.
Size: 3' 0"–4-1/2' high x 2' 0" wide. Zone 6/7.
Pennisetum spathiolatum (G-0511)
Silvery flower heads that sway just above lustrous fawn-green blades and an amazing drought tolerance hallmark this graceful New Zealand native. Found in open grasslands from coastal to subalpine regions, Silver Tussock produces a dense fine textured mound and upright arching stalks studded with slender, loosely arranged inflorescences. Easy-to-grow Poa cita looks best in drifts and knows how to persevere, doggedly enduring dry sunny niches, exposed windy sites, and an array of soil types.
Blooms July – September.
Size: 2-1/2' high x 2' 0" wide. Zone 7/8.
Poa cita (G-0518)
Prevalent in the eastern half of this country, Schizachyriums are becoming a favorite of gardeners everywhere. These warm season clumping grasses have soft-looking, narrow blades, though most of the plant’s height is due to its flower spikes: fluffy plumes of seed heads that look great backlit or as part of a cut arrangement. Deciduous and drought tolerant, they will grow in almost any type of soil except those overly soggy.
Blazing Little Blue Stem
True to its name, ‘Blaze’ displays intense fall colors ranging from pinkish orange to russet-red to purple, often persisting through the winter. This Schizachyrium works well en masse interspersed with other grasses or as a colorful stand-alone in the rock garden.
Size: 12"–2' 0" high x 2' 0" wide; hardy to zone 4.
Schizachyrium scoparium ‘Blaze’ (G-0078)
Discovered by Donald Boehm in Rushville, Illinois, this distinctive, broad bowl-shaped grass sprouts narrow, tightset violet-tinged blue-green blades on reddish stalks plus fluffy mercury-hued plumes with delicate, nearly transparent seed heads. Exceptional copper, rosy tan, orange and mahogany shades imbue the foliage and flowering stalks once cool weather arrives, proclaiming the cultivar name and painting prismatic fine textured accents across the garden. Later, narrow sturdy stems blanch to a warm almond-hue and remain dutifully upright all winter, even after multiple snow storms.(pp#20,948)
Size: 2-1/2' high x 2-1/2' wide; hardy to zone 3.
Schizachyrium scoparium ‘Carousel’ (G-0536)
Another fabulous Intrinsic grass introduction, this Schizachyrium ‘The Blues’ offspring orchestrates a winning shorter stance than its relation plus upstanding glaucous steel blue blades. Dainty racemes of bronzed purple flowers on branched stems give way to fleecy looking translucent silver seed heads that gleam when backlit by the late afternoon sun, while mauve and purple shades dress the slender linear leaves in autumn. Adaptable, versatile and plucky, ‘Jazz’ is a grace note for mixed borders, cottage gardens or stylized prairie settings.
Size: 2' 0" high x 18" wide; hardy to zone 3.
Schizachyrium scoparium ‘Jazz’ (G-0568)
Cool-hued consistently steel blue blades sizzling with orange and red hues as summer wanes, is what sets this improved Jelitto Seeds cultivar apart. Easily tolerating heat and humidity, ‘Prairie Blue’s lavender-tinged ribbon-like foliage grows into a sturdy upright clump that looks outstanding planted in drifts just about anywhere.
Blooms July – October.
Size: 3' 0" high x 15"–2' 0" wide; hardy to zone 4.
Schizachyrium scoparium ‘Prairie Blues’ (G-0524)
Introduced by Pennsylvania’s North Creek Nursery, this new Schizachyrium’s tidy upright stature gives you good reason to applaud nearly year round. The sturdy bundle of tight-knit blue stems with purple-hued bases and spiky blue-green blades, thicker than most in the genus, exhibits a dogged constitution, splendid foliar colors and an arresting winter presence. Gauzy silver inflorescences plus the autumn encore of scintillating orange, red, ochre and purplish mocha shades further enhance ‘Standing Ovation’s reliable performance that will keep you entertained in spite of rain, high wind, snowfall and dry impoverished sites.
Size: 3' 0"–4' 0" high x 12"–18" wide; hardy to zone 3.
Schizachyrium scoparium ‘Standing Ovation’ (G-0551)
A lively pattern of ½ in. wide alternating alabaster and bright green bands decorate the upright hollow blades, which emerge in spring. The green gradually darkens, while the alabaster develops a luminescent quality that will surely brighten any shady spot and add striking detail to floral arrangements, fresh or dried. Brownish conelike terminal flower spikes are subtle and provide interest. This water-loving Japanese Sedge is happiest at pond’s edge or in a partially submerged container.
Blooms late June–August.
Size: 5' 0"–6' 0" high & spreading; hardy to zone 7.
Schoenoplectus lacustris ssp. tabernaemontani ‘Zebrinus’ (G-0072)
Autumn Moor Grass
Indigenous to southern Europe and the Caucasus region, this versatile grass emphasizes a low orderly mound of slender, rich yellowish green blades garnished with narrow spiky silver-white inflorescences in autumn, which later morph into attractive golden tan seed heads. Easy-care Autumn Moor Grass is favored by many gardeners, especially acclaimed plantsman Piet Oudolf, who has utilized broad sweeps at both NYC’s Highline Garden and the Lurie Garden in Chicago. Ideal planted as an expansive ground cover for informal settings, Sesleria autumnalis’ tufted nearly evergreen clump looks spiffy most of the year, triumphing over erosion, light shade, black walnuts and infrequent dry spells, plus clay, sandy or alkaline soil.
Size: 15"–20" high x 12"–18" wide; hardy to zone 4.
Sesleria autumnalis (G-0058)
Blue Moor Grass
Named to honor Leonardo Sesler, an 18th-century physician and botanist, this European native’s sturdy tuffet fashions a long-lived and versatile, noninvasive ground cover. Easily cultivated, low growing Blue Moor Grass puts forth a dense evergreen mound of soft, two-toned leaves, which are glaucous blue on top and dark green beneath. Twisted and curvy, the leaves present a cooling blue-green base for the small spiky panicles of purplish black flowers that mature to a silvered green.
With enough fortitude to handle cold weather and alkaline soils, Sesleria caerulea is unrivaled as a filler between larger grasses or for edging a pathway, and equally impressive when massed.
Size: 8"–12" high x 8"–12" wide; hardy to zone 4.
Sesleria caerulea (G-0466)
John Greenlee’s Moor Grass
Exhibiting attributes from both parents, this tidy looking evergreen, discovered by grass aficionado John Greenlee, is thought to be a hybrid between Sesleria caerulea and Sesleria autumnalis.
Blue-tinged green blades bear a likeness to Sesleria cearulea’s, but are longer, while the blooms resemble those of Sesleria autumnalis, except for being thicker, more elongated and for turning a purplish brown hue when mature.
Topped by reflective green inflorescences with creamy yellow pollen sacs, thin stems rise well above the versatile upright clump that maintains its composure through a multitude of exposures such as sun, shade, moisture, heat or drought. ‘Greenlee’ renders a sprightly verdant statement whether massed in a meadow or a more formal setting.
Blooms June – October.
Size: 12"–15" high x 15"–18" wide. Zone 6/7.
Sesleria ‘Greenlee’ (G-0525)
Always tidy, sadly underused and simple to maintain, the tufted silvery blue mound of this dapper European denizen spawns a taller habit, broader blades and larger blooms than those of S. caerulea. Copious early flowering ebony-colored inflorescences with creamy yellow pollen sacs are perched on slender upright stems, which eventually slacken and bend sideways above glaucous grayish green semi-evergreen leaves, donning crisp dark green undersides. Appreciative of adequate moisture plus a light trimming to refresh its pert visage, S. heufleriana withstands dry conditions once established, makes an amiable cohort for spring bulbs and looks arresting when planted en masse, either beside a path or in a border.
Size: 2' 0" high x 18" wide; hardy to zone 4.
Sesleria heufleriana (G-0559)
The lush, bamboolike appearance of Siberian Graybeard brings echoes of Manchurian forests into your corner of the world.
Initially bright green, the 6 to 8 in. long flat leaves gently taper to a point, and splay in dramatic horizontal effect later in the season as rich plum red highlights appear. Rising over a foot above the neatly rounded, bushy profile, unusual 8 to 12 in. purple-blushed, open and erect panicles are napped with fine hairs—excellent light catchers in the afternoon sun.
Planted as a bold architectural specimen or grouped as a handsome screen, its upright habit and sumptuous fall coloration look pleasing with Aster ‘Ochtendgloren’ and Crocosmia ‘Harlequin’. Tending to mope in dry, hot weather, it will flourish in light shade and well drained soil.
Blooms July–late October.
Size: 4' 0" high x 3' 0"–3-1/2' wide; hardy to zone 5.
Spodiopogon sibiricus (G-0456)
Dwarf Prairie Dropseed
More compact, slightly stiffer and definitely smaller than the species, this upright fine textured dwarf cultivar was selected by astute nurseryman Roy Diblik. ‘Tara’ is a staunch, warm season grass, which forges a tasteful vase-shaped green foundation beneath the exquisite wispy gathering of numerous minute pinkish purple inflorescences on slender stems. Mature round seed heads drop to the ground, hence the common name, while narrow foliage blazes red and orange for autumn. Enticing birds and gardeners, especially those who have limited space, heat tolerant Dwarf Prairie Dropseed can mingle with Echinacea, Monarda or Nepeta in borders, slopes and meadow plantings.
Size: 2' 0"–3' 0" high x 2' 0"–3' 0" wide; hardy to zone 3.
Sporobolus heterolepis ‘Tara’ (G-0567)
Considered the most urbane of the American prairie grasses, ‘Wisconsin Strain’ parades early reliable blooms plus a sublime fountain-style presence. The grand misty floral froth hovers well above an upright arching 1 to 2 ft. tall hummock of finely cut, soft-looking emerald green leaves that turn opulent burgundy, gold or burnt tangerine hues in autumn then blanch to light copper in winter. Savored by birds and once ground into flour by Native Americans, countless tawny colored seed heads arise from minute ethereal-like pink and brown-toned inflorescences, wafting a unique cilantro spiced popcorn aroma. This versatile slow growing grass requires minimal care, braves an array of soil types and relishes moist fertile sites, though tolerates drought once mature.
Size: 3' 0" high x 3' 0" wide. Zone 3/4.
Sporobolus heterolepis ‘Wisconsin Strain’ (G-0560)
Originally bred by New Mexico’s Los Lunas Plant Materials Center to be a utilitarian non-woody windbreak, this enormous grass pleasantly surprised everyone with its majestic bearing plus spectacular blonde and bronze-colored fluffy flower spikes.
Strap-like medium green foliage boldly forges a sturdy upstanding foundation, touted as the largest of all native American grasses. Possessing a versatile, non-invasive practicality unlike the Victorian era’s Pampas Grass, ‘Windbreaker’ makes a top-notch choice for a living fence, hedgerow or an awe-inspiring ornamental specimen in a mixed border.
Size: 7' 0"–10' 0" high x 6' 0" wide; hardy to zone 5.
Sporobolus wrightii ‘Windbreaker’ (G-0552)
The species of this widely distributed genus of cool season grasses are evergreen in milder climates. The jointed, bamboo-like flower stalks lend an Asian look to many of the showy varieties. The flowers are stunning in morning and end of the day light, and in the breezes of any hour.
Pheasant’s Tail Grass
Like a fountain, the green, bronze and golden narrow blades are upright and arching. Slightly dry soils will intensify the copper tones of this graceful, clumping evergreen Stipa. While grown mostly for its delightful form and color, the subtle inflorescences appear as a fine mist, tinged with small purple and golden seed capsules known as awns.
Size: 2' 0" high x 2' 0"–3' 0" wide; hardy to zone 8.
Stipa arundinacea (G-0077)
Giant Feather Grass
The first time we saw this show-stopper, we had to ask, “Is it from the tropics, or straight out of America’s bread basket?” In fact a native of Spain, Stipa gigantea boasts 7 ft. tall, jointed stalks that resemble lean bamboo, with airy 10 in. panicles of oatlike flowers that begin as purple-on-green, ripening to pale, metallic gold. The graceful gray-green foliage remains a tidy 2 ft. hummock. This unforgettable display continues all winter, and may bloom as early as February in milder climates. We recommend a gentle breeze and backlighting for full effect. Drought tolerant once established.
Size: 6' 0"–7' 0" high x 4' 0" wide; hardy to zone 7.
Stipa gigantea (G-0024)
Pillar of Smoke
Hailing from Down Under, Australia’s ‘Pillar of Smoke’ explodes with 6 to 8 in. whorl-branched panicles of silky copper-colored flowers that age to a smoky silver. The amazing floral plumes are held on sturdy, jointed stems amidst towering clumps of bright green foliage.
Undaunted by wind, poor soils and some drought, this strong-growing, cool season evergreen is perfect for southern and western gardens, as well as coastal sites.
Size: 6' 0"–7' 0" high x 3' 0" wide; hardy to zone 9.
Stipa ramosissima (G-0037)
Exhibiting a kinetic sculptural quality in the wind and a graceful architectural flair all year, slender, unbranched reedlike stems tipped with small golden inflorescences spring from a dense basal tussock. Its tidy and tenacious upright habit prefers good air circulation and acidic soil, and abides drought, frost and seaside conditions once established.
Hailing from the South African coast between Cape Agulhas and Albertinia, Thamnochortus insignis is commonly utilized to thatch traditional Cape Dutch homes, and can be featured in your garden as a dramatic long-lived specimen.
Blooms July – August.
Size: 5' 0"–6' 0" high x 5' 0"–7' 0" wide; hardy to zone 8.
Thamnochortus insignis (G-0084)
Dense handsome tussocks of artful arching blue-green culms are topped with bronzy wheat-like flowers on tall spikes. Seemingly impervious to heat, wind and coastal conditions and tolerant to both acidic and alkaline soils, this rhizomous grass will delight with prominence and longevity.
Size: 4' 0"–5' 0" high x 3' 0" wide; hardy to zone 8.
Thamnochortus spicigerus (G-0520)
Red Hook Sedge
This toasty-hued New Zealand native is highly treasured for narrow, rich mahogany blades arching up and out from its base to forge a burnished tuft warmed by reddened accents. Tiny, Bulrush-like, hooked flowers are elevated above the tidy, low growing evergreen clump that flourishes in cool moist places but sulks in excessive heat.
Massed at water’s edge or nestled in a cobalt blue container, Uncinia rubra strikes a stunning pose with Bergenia ‘Bressingham Ruby’s textural leaves or the rounded foliage of Lysimachia ‘Aurea’ as a golden counterpoint.
Size: 12"–15" high x 15" wide. Zone 7/8.
Uncinia rubra (G-0474)
A real find for any gardener, this dazzling sport brandishes narrow lustrous bronze leaves with bright cherry red margins. The full-toned blades comprise a small loosely set clump that can accompany broader like-hued foliage, such as Heuchera 'Blackout', for an intriguing color echo or serve as an effective counterpoint against silver and blue-hued leaves. Celebrate 'Belinda's Find's vivacious accents in a courtyard, shady bed or favored container. (uspp#21,972)
Size: 12" high x 15" wide; hardy to zone 8.
Uncinia rubra ‘Belinda's Find’ (G-0537)