October 24, 2021

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Episode 96: Favorite Ornamental Grasses

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Nothing says fall in the garden more than the sight of ornamental grasses pluming. It goes right along with all other things that signal the season change—the kids going back to school, pumpkin spice everything, and turning the heat on for the first time. Gardeners seem to have a love/hate relationship with ornamental grasses. They have great texture, they give life to the late-season landscape, and many are native to North America. But some spread like noxious weeds, become invasive, or are maintenance nightmares that need frequent division. In this episode we discuss some of our favorites from this category of plants—grasses that are stunning in three seasons (if not four) and don’t require a plethora of care to look their best. We even talk about a few newbie grasses that you might not have heard of before!

Expert testimony: Paul Zammit lives and gardens in Toronto’s West End, and is a professor of horticulture at Niagara College in Southern Ontario.

Danielle’s Plants

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‘Moudry’ fountain grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Moudry’, Zones 4–9)
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‘Moudry’ fountain grass habit
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‘Blue Zinger’ sedge (Carex flacca ‘Blue Zinger’, Zones 5–9)
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‘Honeycomb’ blue grama grass (Bouteloua gracilis ‘Honeycomb’, Zones 4–9). Photo: Intrinsic Perennial Gardens
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Variegated purple moor grass (Molinia caerulea subsp. caerulea ‘Variegata’, Zones 4–9). Photo: Intrinsic Perennial Gardens

 

Carol’s Plants

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‘Shenandoah’ switchgrass (Panicum virgatum ‘Shenandoah’, Zones 5–9), late-season color
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‘Blonde Ambition’ blue grama grass (Bouteloua gracilis ‘Blonde Ambition’, Zones 3–10)
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‘Blonde Ambition’ blue grama grass, close-up of seed heads
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‘Oehme’ palm sedge (Carex muskingumensis ‘Oehme’, Zones 4–9)
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‘Standing Ovation’ little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium ‘Standing Ovation’, Zones 4–9)

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Paul Zammit lives and gardens in Toronto’s West End and is a professor of horticulture at Niagara College in Southern Ontario.

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Northern sea oats (Chasmanthium latifolium, Zones 3–8). Photo: Paul Zammit
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‘Red Rooster’ leatherleaf sedge (Carex buchananii and cvs., Zones 6–9). Photo: Paul Zammit
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Leatherleaf sedge in a container planting. Photo: Paul Zammit
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 ‘Blackhawks’ big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii Blackhawks, Zones 3–9). Photo: Paul Zammit
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 ‘Aureola’ Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra spp. and cvs., Zones 5–9). Photo: Paul Zammit
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