Grasses, Ornamental, Perennials Guide to Planting Flowers


Perennial Flower Information

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Grasses, Ornamental

Arrhenatherum bulbosum

A dwarf, decorative grass
of tufted habit growing only 8 inches high. The green
and white leaves retain their clear color throughout
‘ the season. It is used where a white edging or border
is desired.

Arundo Donax-Giant Reed

This is the tallest of the
ornamental grasses, sometimes growing in rich, deep
soil to a height of 20 feet. The long, drooping leaves
of a bright green color are produced from the base to
the top of the stem, somewhat resembling a corn plant,
though more graceful. Late in Summer the plant produces
showy reddish brown plumes over a foot long. which turn
a silvery gray at maturity. The Giant Reed is useful
for the centers of large beds, in the backgrounds of
borders or as specimens in the lawn. It refuses to be
at home in stiff, clayey soil, preferring a deep, sandy
loam and a sheltered position. Variegated forms are
obtainable; they have leaves striped with white. This
latter port seldom grows over 12 feet tall and is not
entirely hardy without protection in the colder climates.


The Bamboos form a group
of interesting grasses, interesting because of their
association with many uses to which they are put by
the Japanese. Few of our outdoor Bamboos, however, grow
so that we can actually use them for fishpoles. They
are usually more bushy. Three principal genera of grasses
are known as Bamboos, namely: Bambusa, Arundinaria
and Phyllostachys. Generally speaking it
is wise to protect all of the sorts listed as Bamboos.
The choicest and hardiest sorts include the following:

Arundinaria auricoma.
This grass is an excellent purple-stemmed variety,
having green and yellow variegated foliage. It is rather
dwarf, growing only 3 feet tall.

Arundinaria Fortunei.
This is the smallest of the common hardy Bamboos,
growing only 18 inches tall and having evergreen foliage,
variegated green and white. Although it lacks the grace
of the taller varieties, it is often used for edging
or in rockeries.

Arundinaria’ japonica
(B. Metake).
Arrow Bamboo. This handsome variety
from Japan forms dense masses 8 feet to 10 Feet high.
The leaves remain on the plant in good condition well
into Midwinter. This sort is reliable and thrives under
trying conditions.

Arundinaria Simonii. This
sort is distinct and of vigorous growth, the branches
being grouped in dense clusters. The narrow, green leaves
are occasionally striped with white. It grows 20 feet
tall in China although 15 feet is considered to he a
good growth in this country.

Bambusa palmata. This
is an effective, broad-leaved species forming dense
clumps 4 feet high. The bright green leaves are often
15 inches long and 3 inches wide.

Phyllostachys aurea. Golden
Bamboo. This graceful Chinese sort has close jointed
canes which are light green when young, but change to
a straw yellow when mature. The plants grow 15 feet
tall and are covered with small branches which bear
soft green foliage.

Elymus-Blue Lime Grass

Elymus glaucus is an
excellent grass of spreading habit, with narrow, bluish-green
leaves. It makes an earlier start in Spring than most
grasses and grows 3 feet high.

Erianthus-Plume Grass,
Hardy Pampas Grass

In habit Erianlhus Razenrax
resembles the Pampas Grass, but it is not as ornamental
because the plumes are not as showy. It grows 5 feet
to 10 feet tall. In a sunny location, in well-drained
soil, this grass is attractive as a specimen or for
use among shrubs.

Eulalia or Miscanthus-Japanese

The plain green and variegated
sorts of Eulalia are of great value in the garden. They
grow 5 feet to 7 feet tall. Eulalia japonica
has deep green leaves 2 feet to 3 feet long and over
an inch wide. E. gracillima has long, drooping
leaves, narrower than the former sort and with a stripe
of white through the center. E. japonica zebrina,
the Zebra grass, has leaves which are variegated,
being marked crosswise with broad, yellowish white bands.

Festuca-Blue Fescue

This little tufted grass,
Festuca glauca, has silvery-blue foliage and grows only
10 inches tall. The plants are evergreen, but it is
advisable to cut the old leaves from the plants early
in the Spring before the new crop is produced. It is
especially recommended for edging in the perennial border
and in the rock garden.

Gynerium or Cortaderia-Pampas

“What is there growing in
the garden or wild more nobly distinct and beautiful
than the great silvery plumes of this plant waving in
the autumnal gusts-the burial plumes as it were, of
our Summer too early dead,” writes Robinson in “Subtropical
Gardening.” Unfortunately, the plants are rather tender
and require mulching in Winter, or they may be taken
up and wintered in a cool cellar. The plumes are the
handsomest, most graceful of all grasses and the needed
care is worth the trouble.

Pennisetum-Fountain Grass

Most of the Fountain Grasses
are annuals, but Pennisetum japonicum is a perennial,
grows 3 feet to 4 feet tall, and has fox tail-like plumes
of rich mahogany tipped with white.

Phalaris-Ribbon Grass,
Gardener’s Garter

This grass is a favorite
of old gardens where it spreads widely. The leaves of
Phalaris arundinacea picla are attractively striped
with pure white. It is useful as a border for the taller
perennial grasses because it grows 2 feet tall. It thrives
especially well in wet soil and may be used on the margins
of ponds. In soil too rich it loses its vareigation.

Uniola-Spike Grass

The Spike Grass, Uniola latifolia,
has arching leaves an inch wide, and broad, flat spikelets
produced in loose drooping clusters. It grows 3 feet


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