Tag Archives: Miscanthus

If You Could Only Choose One….

If you were to chase me through the garden with a gun, forcing me to choose only ONE category of plant that epitomizes what fall looks like to me, once I stopped blathering about all things leafy and my enthusiasm for many beloved ginkgo in my past, I’d have to say it’s miscanthus that wins my heart.

We can discuss all of the amazing merits of this group of grasses all day, but the ONE reason that it stops me in my tracks year after year is the way the low angled fall sun sparkles on the soft blooms like diamonds on magic wands.

Since I also love lots of strong color, I am always taken aback by just how much I love the warm, muted beige and sand tones that you only get in fall. It shows up beautifully against the electric gold of  Solidago ‘Fireworks’.

Lastly, it takes great restraint not to wax poetic about the effect those miscanthus blooms have on their unwitting neighbors. But, I will close with this; the movie star quality that the Belladonna lily (also known as Naked Lady) enjoys in this shot would not be the same without these grass blooms. It reminds me of those old movies where the female star got a romantic close-up and the camera operator would put vaseline around the edge of lens for the soft focus effect.

The next time you pass a gracious stand of Miscanthus hopefully, you will take note of these points, because if someone were chasing YOU with a gun through the landscape in fall forcing YOU to choose a favorite piece of Fine Foliage hopefully, you will thank me for making your choice much easier. 🙂

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Need More inspiration? Our latest book Gardening with Foliage First is cleverly organized to help you find designs just for fall for either shade or sun. Have you got your copy yet? Check it out here or using the affiliate link above.

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Late Summers Groovy Grasses

Late Summers Groovy GrassesWhether your intention is to create a nod to the meadows of grasses and flowers designed by the legendary Piet Oudolf  or to simply add some soft billowy texture to the landscape, adding a little zing with grasses is gratifying and much easier than most people believe.

Chanticleer
You have hundreds of amazing options no matter what your design goals. Some gardeners may just want a little textural difference from the standard variety of evergreen and deciduous shrubs and the low maintenance benefits of ornamental grasses are hard to resist.

Late Summer's Groovy GrassesRefined and elegant, Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’ has a thin white margin on the center of the blade giving it the advantage over other more plain grasses and where you may want a lighter color to a space. Topping out at only 5ft. tall it also has a quite narrow base so that getting other plants right in up close in tight spaces is not difficult as you can see above.

Late Summers Groovy Grasses

Certain grasses are out and showing off long before the first week of August, but many are just beginning to hit their stride for the late months of the gardening year. This week, we’re focusing  on those later grasses.

Above is a VERY fun grass with and equally fun name to say- Bouteloua gracilis ‘Blond Ambition’,  which is airy and light and needs to be either mass planted or to have a nice bold leaf to set against and be able to shine as a specimen.

Late Summers Groovy Grasses
The award-winning Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’ is a designers dream as it tall and narrow so it can be used not only in tight spaces, but in repetition in rows and give a modern, elegant look as well as above in a casual easy breezy way. The wheat-like blooms are both sturdy and showy from a distance.

LAte Summers Groovy GrassesStipa tenuissima ‘Mexican Feather Grass’ is a lovely option for a small growth habit in a grass, and one that has a fun personality. It comes out a fresh spring green and then in summer it begins to turn a sandy light beige. Team Fine Foliage is aware that in some locations across the count try it can be invasive, so be sure to check with your local independent garden center or horticulturist if this is one you should be avoiding. But if it’s one for you, you will have a hard time not petting it and feeling the silky softness as you walk by it.

Late Summers Groovy GrassesPennisetum alopecuroides ‘Hameln’ is a fountain grass and if low maintenance is your thing, try it with an amazing lavender with impeccable performance like Lavandula x intermedia ‘Phenomenal’ and you will see this combo check off many of your design boxes. This is a very tough grass that can be quite drought tolerant once established. It blooms with these “bunny-tail” blooms that are delightful to touch and when paired with the lavender blooms that come on earlier the duo it showy for months on end. In fall the grass will take on some elegant golden and apricot highlights and hold tight without falling apart for the majority of winter. It gets cut back in spring and you are off the races again.

Late Summers Groovy Grasses
As the Hydrangea paniculata ‘Angel Blush’ or ‘Tardiva’ change to their deeper rose tones in late summer and autumn, you can rely on Eulalia grass or Miscanthus sinensis ‘Gracillimus’  for a taller, elegant option for pairing up with this large-scale shrub. The glittering blooms on this grass shine in the sunlight and give sparkle to whatever they are near.

For more information, garden writer Nancy Ondra wrote a beautiful book on grasses and designing with them, I highly recommend it! She is a masterful designer and it was my first go-to resource on grasses in my own hort-library.

What groovy grasses have you planted this summer? Leave us a comment below or tell us on Facebook!

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A Stormy Day for Fine Foliage

Stormy Day Fine Foliage

Left to right; ‘Rainbow’ Leaucothoe is showing off some new cold weather burgundy foliage for winter. A favorite conifer Thuja Occidentalis ‘Rheingold’ is coloring up nicely for winter as it warms up with orange and amber tones. My STAR conifer in this bed is Chamaecyparis lawsoniana ‘Wissel’s Saguaro’ he is growing in nicely! Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’ is a soft accent texture in the small bed with its swaying plumes. Osmanthus ‘Goshiki’ is the toughest character in this little gang, drought tolerant with foliage that has interesting color changes through the entire year. Down low is Nandina ‘Gulf Stream’ giving a bold red uplight to the group next to the more somber deep tones of the ‘Crimson Pygmy’ Barberry.

When rain, wind and flooding storms are pummeling both the East and West coasts at the same time, it can seem like there is no reason to find joy in the garden, but Fine Foliage is here to cheer you on and say YES! There are always gorgeous things to be appreciated in the garden no matter the weather. I ran outside in my jammies THIS MORNING and took a few shots in my own garden to show you that it is true!

You just have to do a little simple planning. In fact I kind of enjoy the challenge of proving this point, I get to go to the nursery and browse and that’s always a fun job. 😉

So, how do WE do it? It means that when it is NOT ugly, dark, gray and wet, you have to stand out in the glaring sunshine in spring or summer with one eagle eye imagining THIS day to come. I often take my clients outside on a gray day such as this, all of us in our rain gear, umbrellas in hand and I ask them to stand at the driveway and imagine what exactly they want to see when they pull the car up after a hard day of work. Do you want neat clean and tidy clipped hedges? Can Do! Do you want COLOR? Can do! We just have to be thinking about in earlier in the year and talk about WHAT COLOR MEANS for the garden in fall and winter.

Inevitably, a client will say “What about all of the flowers?” Well, that’s a bit tougher. Even in our mild climate in the Northwest. Viola’s and Pansies are not terribly big fans of our constant rain and it’s a little early to appreciate many Hellebore and Primroses in bloom yet.

Cryptomeria 'Black Dragon' anchors this combo pot, paired with a lovely native Mahonia nervosa blushing in the cold with a subtle purple, Heuchera 'Berry Smoothie' gives a large leaf respite to all of the smaller foliage detail. The lacy and vibrant purple Kale is perfect snuggled with 'Ducksfoot' Ivy peeking out around the base of the pot.

Cryptomeria ‘Black Dragon’ anchors this combo pot, paired with a lovely native Mahonia nervosa blushing in the cold with a subtle purple, Heuchera ‘Berry Smoothie’ giving a large leaf respite to all of the smaller foliage detail. The lacy and vibrant purple Peacock Red’ Ornamental Kale is perfect snuggled with Ducksfoot’ Ivy peeking out around the base of the pot. The cut Red Twig Dogwood twigs in this pot add just the right touch of bright red for the season too!

Just look at all of the COLOR we have with no flowers! This is just what Fine Foliage in your garden does the very best. It gives these cold, drab days with seemingly nothing to see a focus, a point to look at that warms your heart and makes you feel that every time of the year is worth appreciating in the garden. Rain or shine Fine Foliage can be found everywhere if you just look!

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