Spring Garden Planning Guide: Maintenance Tips and Questions Answered

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Spring Garden Planning Guide

Have the temperatures been rising and are you yearning to go out into the garden? Spring is here and it is a time to start planning and prepping the garden for a successful start to the planting season. There are some recommended maintenance tips for getting your garden underway. Here is a list of common gardening tasks to be performed in late winter/early spring. (I recently posted this article on my other blog A Guide to Northeastern Gardening, but felt it was also fitting for here.)

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Cleaning Out Garden Beds

True or False? Any dead material remaining from last year should be removed from your garden now. True. It is best practice to remove dead material from the garden in fall to prevent possible pests and disease in your garden. If you have left annuals or perhaps perennials for winter interest, now is the time to tend to them, along with any weeds that might have survived the winter. Pull out any dead remaining annuals and prune perennials back to the ground to encourage new growth. If cold temperatures are still to be expected, push mulch up around the crown of the plants to protect them from temperature fluctuations.
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Mulching Garden Beds

True or False? New mulching should be applied now before the ground thaws.  False. Mulch acts as an insulator and applying mulch before thawing would actually inhibit warming as temperatures rise. Allow the soil to warm, then apply two to four inches of natural pine mulch. When applying, keep mulch several inches away from tree and shrub trunks to prevent oxygen loss and rotting. Mulch benefits plants by reducing water evaporation, preventing weeds, adding organic matter to the soil and also acts as a buffer, preventing drastic changes in soil temperatures. 

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Lawn Care

True or False? Nitrogen based lawn fertilizer can only be applied after April 1st.  True. According to the EPA, the prohibition on application of fertilizer between December 1st and April 1st applies to products that contain nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), or potassium (K). If a product does not contain any of these nutrients, it could be applied during the winter months without violating this law. Explanation: If the ground is frozen, there is a greater danger of runoff and possible contamination of groundwater. Fertilizers applied when the ground is thawed and porous are absorbed and utilized by plant material and go through a natural filtration process before reaching the aquifer system. Please note that there are a variety of organic, natural fertilizers on the market that are more environmentally friendly. Success rate depends on brand and application.

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Pruning Flowering Trees and Shrubs (Photo: Magnolia Royal Star)

True or False? Spring flowering trees and shrubs should be pruned in late winter/early spring. False. General rule of thumb is to prune flowering plants AFTER they flower. Early spring flowering trees and shrubs including rhododendron, azalea, forthysia, magnolia, plum, Eastern Redbud and cherry form their buds from the season before and should be not be pruned until after flowering. Pruning them now will remove flower buds that have already formed, resulting in a loss of blooms.

butterfly bush (dwarf) Buddleia Lo & Behold 'Blue Chip'

Pruning Summer Flowering Shrubs (Photo: Buddleia ‘Lo & Behold Blue Chip’ Dwarf Butterfly Bush)

True or False? Summer blooming shrubs such as Spirea and Buddleia should be pruned in spring. True. Mid and late summer flowering shrubs such as Spirea and Buddleia (butterfly bush) prefer a spring pruning to promote fullness and blooms. Prune Spirea slightly for shaping. If the plant is overgrown to the point it is unsightly, it can be pruned more drastically to rejuvenate it now in spring. Buddleia benefits from an early spring pruning and should be pruned all the way back in late winter/early spring to promote fuller plants and better blooms in late summer. This practice is best performed once you see signs of life on your plants.

weeping white pine

Pruning Evergreens (Photo: Weeping White Pine)

True or False? The best time to prune evergreens is in early spring. True. Evergreens can be pruned anytime when there is no threat of extreme temperature changes that would cause undue stress; however, the best time is either in early spring before they push out new growth, or afterwards once new candles form. When pruning evergreens that form candles, such as white pine, it is best to cut candles in half to keep the plant more compact.

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Pruning Ornamental Grasses and Liriope (Photo: Left-Ornamental Grass ‘Yaku Jima’ and  Right-Variegated Liriope)

True or False?  Liriope and grasses should be cut back and divided now in spring. True. Liriope and ornamental grasses can be cold sensitive. Exposing the crown of the plant could be the reason for snow and cold damage. It is best to leave liriope and grasses alone in fall and to prune them back in early spring to allow for new growth. Spring is also the time to divide and move other perennials that have become overgrown. It is recommended that most perennials be divided every four years for best bloom. Dig up and divide with a sharp clean spade just as new growth appears, replant and add a sprinkle of slow release plant food in with the soil to help root promotion. Water in thoroughly.

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Pruning Roses (Photo: Double Knock Out Rose Pink)

True or False? Knock Out Roses should be pruned back in early spring. True. Wait until your roses are sprouting new shoots and showing some signs of life. Then, prune off dead wood or overgrown branches back about one third the size of the plant to promote strong growth and blooms. Be careful to watch while pruning so that you achieve a nice rounded shape for your plant. Early spring is also a good time to apply an organic slow release rose fertilizer mixed in with the soil at the base of the plant to ensure a successful start to the growing season. I would also recommend a regular watering schedule from the base of the plant, since roses do not fair well with constant water on their foliage.

Dahlia Garden PLANTING FIELDS

Planting Summer Blooming Bulbs (Photo: Dahlia ‘Snowball’)

True or False? Summer blooming bulbs should be planted in late spring. True. While spring blooming bulbs such as crocus, hyacinths, tulips  and daffodils are planted in fall, late summer blooming bulbs such as  Dahlia, Canna and Gladiolus are planted in spring. Amend the soil with compost or manure to insure them a good start and plant in a well-drained area to prevent rotting. Generally, bulbs are planted at a depth of three times their diameter, and specific instructions are usually supplied on the packaging. Once planted, water your bulbs thoroughly and be sure they get watered regularly. Applying bone meal will give your bulbs energy during the growing season, but do not mix in too closely to the roots.

Hydrangea Endless Summer

Endless Summer Hydrangea

Will the unpredictable weather we have been having across most of the U.S. and other areas harm my garden?  I have been getting asked this question quite a bit over the past couple of years. Generally, plants are pretty resilient. Buds that are forming on the trees early are sparked by the warmer temperatures in daytime but slowed down by the colder nighttime temperatures, which tends to balance out their progress. If there is severe cold for a prolonged period of time, buds could freeze and get damaged, but the tree produces enough buds to still have a bloom. More sensitive plants like old fashioned hydrangea ‘Nikko Blue’ that bloom on old wood are more susceptible to cold and time will tell. If there is die back on your plant, prune out the dead wood and apply a dose of a high phosphorus fertilizer. It could help to boost larger blooms from any undamaged buds. Hydrangea varieties that bloom on new wood, such as ‘Endless Summer’ and ‘Pee Gee’ should winter alright.

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Winter Bronzing of Evergreens

Some of my evergreens are a bronze color. Should I be concerned? Winter bronzing is normal on evergreens near the end of winter while temperatures are cold. Once the temperatures rise and new growth is stimulated, the foliage will turn back to a more vibrant green. Broken or dead branches are different in that they are completely dried out and brown. Those branches should be pruned off the tree in late winter/early springtime to prevent any further damage. Any falling or divided tree leads can be arbor tied to secure them and encourage upright growth. Split branches can also be arbor tied together, and if caught in time the cambium growing layer of the tree can mend. In the photograph above, the center upright Western Arborvitae are displaying bronzing and there are no signs of broken branches. As you can see the trees are healthy.

Have you heard about my new book, Landscape Design Combinations? My first book A Guide to Northeastern Gardening covers recommended plants for zones 3-9 with topics including butterfly gardening, deer resistant plants, shade gardening, perennials, trees and shrubs, evergreens, general maintenance tips and more.

Landscape Design Combinations is a continuation of the previous publication, with greater emphasis on design, including numerous numbered and labeled photographs of successful landscape plans. Topics include elements of landscape design, designing for the seasons, how to build a natural stone patio or walkway, simple container combinations and garden styles throughout the centuries.

Both A Guide to Northeastern Gardening and Landscape Design Combinations were written to provide you with the tools needed to help you to create a successful garden. Click on the links below for more information and previews. I hope to inspire you!

A Guide to Northeastern Gardening

As Always…Happy Gardening!

 Author: Lee@A Guide to Northeastern Gardening, © Copyright 2017. All rights reserved
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Book Launching: Introducing My Second Book-Landscape Design Combinations!

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I am very excited to be officially announcing the launching of my second book, Landscape Design Combinations! Fifty something years ago, I developed a passion for all things green and started digging in the soil by the age of five. In the 1980’s, I entered the field of education and after sixteen years, with the encouragement of friends, started up a landscape design business in 1996. I took up an interest in blog writing and photography in 2010, and after retiring from 32 years of teaching in 2013, I decided to put all my experiences into a published work. I had quickly realized that writing and publishing a book was not an easy task, but persisted in accomplishing what I had started. By 2015, I published my first book A Guide to Northeastern Gardening. 

The thought of starting the process all over again was the furthest thing from my mind, but to my own astonishment, the desire to write within me grew even stronger. There was still so much I wanted to share. As I started to write, the words came easily, and a second book started to materialize.  Now, two years later, I have completed Landscape Design Combinations, which takes the first book a step further by going much deeper into the design process, while offering numerous landscape designs with labeled photographs and descriptions. One can say that it completes what I had started. I am now thrilled to be able to share my love of gardening and design with you through a second book.

What does this book have to offer? 2-sample-6-borderLandscape Design Combinations is a comprehensive guide to help you plan your outdoor space. If you have ever felt overwhelmed by “what to plant where” in your garden, or have spent months, or even years, not knowing where to begin, Landscape Design Combinations will help to facilitate the process. The first two chapters deal with the basic principles of landscape design and color coordination. You will get ideas for the desired function of your space and discover your own personal sense of garden style and color preference. Throughout the book, each chapter builds upon the one before it, discussing foliage combinations, then types of and proper placement of evergreens, followed by flowering shrubs and finally, perennials.

perennial-borderNumbered and labeled photographs are supplied throughout the book with information on each plant, such as common or scientific name, plant descriptions and cold hardiness. Once plant usage and placement is covered, the remaining chapters discuss hardscape, with directions on how to build a simple stone walkway or patio, along with more information on garden styles. Each chapter will incorporate plants discussed earlier and create designs starting from simple perennial combinations to full landscape designs.

4-sample-1-borderDiscussion of evergreens and flowering plants will focus on placement and interest provided, while perennial combinations will include bloom time for each plant discussed. As each chapter progress, more detailed design plan layouts will be provided as a guide to assist you in planning your space. In the later chapters, topics covered include designing for seasonal interest, container combinations and hardscaping, with easy to follow designs. The book ends with “Garden Inspiration”, which discusses garden styles throughout the centuries and how various design elements have developed over the years. Finally, a glossary is included with definitions of design terms used throughout the book.

About the Book:book-coverLandscape Design Combinations provides the necessary tools to help you easily plan your garden, while offering a multitude of design plans with labeled photographs and detailed descriptions. Topics such as landscape design principles, color in design, the use of foliage, designing with deciduous and evergreen plants, planter combinations and landscape planning are discussed. Additional topics include designing with hardscape with “quick and easy” landscape designs and garden styles throughout history, with colorful illustrations. The information presented is applicable to both novice or professional gardener alike, and is all based on Lee Miller’s personal experience as a landscape designer for over twenty years. Lee Miller is also the author of “A Guide to Northeastern Gardening: Journeys of a Garden Designer”, initially published in 2015.

About the Author: garden clean up 2Lee Miller is a professional landscape/garden designer involved in the horticultural industry since 1996. Having started a gardening blog in 2010, she is the author of over 200 articles on general gardening, landscape design principles, gardening tips, planting, pruning, garden maintenance, feature plants and more. In addition, Lee Miller has donated her time as a contributing writer for the American Heart Association Gardening Blog, as well as Gardening Know How, and has been involved as a presenter at local gardening clubs.

To Preview Landscape Design Combinations, simply click on the link or icon below. I hope to inspire you!

Landscape Design Combinations

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Care of Landscape Plantings

8 echinacea pow wow 5 After you have invested time and money into your landscape it is important to take proper care of your plantings.  Here is a list that I have compiled over the years that I share with my clients.  I hope you will find it useful!

WATERING:  Water thoroughly after planting and keep well watered throughout the first growing season. Be careful not to over water! Feel down by the roots to determine whether the plant is getting the correct moisture. Soil should appear moist but not wet or overly dry. Consider type of soil, time of year and amount of sun and rain. Make sure fall plantings get enough water until the ground freezes in winter and then when the ground thaws. If you do not have a sprinkler system the use of soaker hoses is recommended. Water should be applied at a rate of 3/4 inch of water every three days or 1 1/2 inches a week. (One inch of water goes down 6 ” into the soil.)

GENERAL:  Drip lines need to be run longer (2-3 hours) versus mist heads (30-40 minutes) Adjust accordingly depending on soil type, sun verses shade, etc.  Water thoroughly and regularly the first growing season until the plant’s root system is established.  Do not rely on rainfall alone.  Do not rely on lawn sprinklers alone, as they may not supply an adequate amount of water.  Watering by hand, two or three times a week to supplement your irrigation system is recommended in summer heat.

EVERGREENS: Most evergreens can be pruned at any time of year except when the weather is too hot or right before temperatures start to drop below freezing. Ideally the best time is believed to be in March before new growth starts. This also eliminates any winter burn that can occur during especially cold weather and gives the evergreen a good start for spring. Most evergreens will not take well to hard pruning.  The only exception is Taxus (Yew) which may rejuvenate over time. No plant is completely maintenance free so keep your evergreens trimmed to their desired size. This will also keep them full and healthy and prevent thinning out. NOTE: Evergreens will shed their needles or foliage in the Fall/Spring to allow for new growth. If any branches appear brown or dead after planting or after winter, trim them off and allow the plant to rejuvenate. When in doubt ask a professional.

WINTER CARE:  BROAD LEAVED EVERGREENS:  Some Broad-Leaved Evergreens such as Cherry, Skip or Mountain Laurel, Japanese Aucuba, Holly and Rhododendron can be subject to winter burn from dehydration due to water loss in the case of a cold and dry winter.   Care should be taken in the usage of an anti-desiccant such as ‘Wilt-Proof” Spray which should be applied around Thanksgiving and again if there is a thaw during the winter months.  Do not apply when the temperatures are freezing.

FLOWERING SHRUBS: Prune flowering shrubs and flowering evergreens after the bloom (late August into fall) Flowering shrubs such as hydrangea bloom on the last year’s growth and will not bloom if cut back in spring. Shrubs such as Spirea improve bloom when cut back in Fall/Winter (March) before they get their leaves in spring. Renovate Lilac in winter and prune for shape after flowering in spring. Prune roses in spring to remove winter damage before new growth starts.

ROSES:  Apply an all in one systemic feed and insect control into the soil around each plant such as Bayer All in One Rose & Flower Care a few times throughout the summer to keep your roses beautiful and insect free.  Follow dosage on label. Deadheading on Knock Out Roses is not essential but doing so will keep your plants full.

TREES: Prune (or move) deciduous trees in fall after leaves have fallen and tree is dormant. Evergreens can be moved in either spring or fall and must be kept well watered.

GRASSES: Grasses should be cut back in late March before new growth appears. Leaving the grass during the winter provides nice interest to the garden.

PERENNIALS:  Deadhead perennials such as salvia though out summer for continuous repeat blooms.  In fall perennials should be allowed to die back then remove any unwanted foliage.  Pruning back perennials can be done in either late fall or early spring (March) before new growth appears but it is recommended in the Fall in order to prevent disease.  Note:  There are some perennials such as liriope (lillyturf) and coral bells (Heuchera) that can provide nice winter interest and can be pruned back in spring.

FERTILIZING: Feed plants in spring and Late Summer. Do not apply a full dose if feeding in the fall. Apply a half dose for root feeding only. For new plantings allow the plantings to become established then apply a slow release organic fertilizer or apply a “starter” formula when planting. For established plants there are several products on the market. Be careful not to buy a concentrated product that will burn the roots. A slow release or organic fertilizer such as Holly Tone is recommended. Once again when in doubt ask a professional.

INSECT CONTROL: Periodically check your plants for insect or fungal damage and treat if needed. It is advised to use a regular insect control maintenance program to keep your plantings healthy.

LAWN CARE: Ideally sod lawns are best planted in spring and seed best planted in the fall. Core Aeration and over-seeding are best done in the fall to help rejuvenate a lawn and give it a healthy start for the following season. Your lawn should also have a regular maintenance program to keep it at its best ask your professional.

2015 Lee@ A Guide to Landscape Design & Maintenance.

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Book Announcement! My First Published Book!

FotorCreated BOOK PROMO 2 600 pixAfter two years of working on my book I am excited to announce that it is finally published! A Guide to Northeastern Gardening: Journeys of a Garden Designer is a comprehensive guide to gardening in plant hardiness zones 3-9.  My goal for the book is to share information on a number of gardening topics based on my experiences as a landscape designer over the years.BOOK PHOTO

A Little Bit About the Book:

A Guide to Northeastern Gardening is a comprehensive guide of valuable information on plants hardy in a range of zones from 3-9, and gardening techniques backed up by my own personal experiences as a professional landscape designer, along with answers to frequently asked questions. Learn about landscape design principles, butterfly gardening, deer resistant plants, long blooming perennials, globe and weeping evergreens, flowering trees and shrubs, native plantings, shade gardening and more. Whether you are a novice or experienced gardener, A Guide to Northeastern Gardening will help you to create your own dream garden. Come along on my journey into the world of gardening!

A Little Bit About the Author:

Lee Miller is a professional landscape/garden designer involved in the horticultural industry since 1996. Having started a gardening blog in 2010, she is the author of over 150 articles on general gardening, landscape design principles, gardening tips, planting, pruning, garden maintenance, feature plants and more. Her published book, “A Guide to Northeastern Gardening”, is an accumulation of information touching on a wide variety of gardening topics, all backed up by her own personal experiences.

Previews and further information are available on the following links:

Updated for 2016: Now in Amazon Softcover!

Amazon Kindle

Also here is a link to the full story behind the author and the book. I hope to share my gardening experiences with you!

As Always…Happy Gardening!

2015 Lee@ A Guide to Landscape Design & Maintenance.

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Late Summer Garden Rejuvenation: Get More Blooms from Your Dayliles

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Late Summer Garden Rejuvenation

It has been a busy Sunday afternoon in August with the summer temperatures starting to cool and a cooler than usual September in the forecast.  I took the time today to give the garden a face lift and rejuvenate some of my fading perennials. By the time late July and August roll around various perennials are starting to show signs of fall mode with yellowing and dying foliage as they are starting to go dormant.  Perennials such as daylily go dormant at the end of summer into fall but there are methods to extend the bloom time right into mid to late September.  With certain species of long blooming daylily such as ‘Stella D Oro’ there is a trick I learned initially by accident.

daylily rejuvenation

Daylily Rejuvenation-Growth Going Dormant

I had some late summer garden maintenance done a few years ago and the crew had cut the yellowing daylilies back to about four inches from the ground.  At first I was taken by surprise but within a couple of weeks I had brand new vibrant green foliage and blooms that lasted well into fall. From that time on I continued to follow this ritual of cutting back my lilies starting at the end of July and into mid-August so that I could enjoy constant blooms.  The procedure is quite simple and I stage the rejuvenation at different times for the various locations of lilies in my garden.  Starting at the end of July and into late August I carefully remove expired yellowed foliage on my perennial daylilies down to new growth which is approximately four to five inches above the ground.   I actually perform this by hand but you can also use pruning shears and if there are any blooms on the plant you can leave them to enjoy. This ritual of removing dead foliage stimulates the plant to produce healthy new leaves and blooms and also prevents the onset of fungal disease that can occur at this time of year with decaying foliage.

Late Summer Garden Rejuvenation of Daylilies

Late Summer Garden Rejuvenation of Daylilies-Just Cut Back

I also remove the expired scapes (bloom bearing stalks) from the plants as soon as they turn brown throughout the entire season which stimulates new blooms.  The photograph on the left shows how the stalks should appear when you remove them. It is easy to know when this should be done since the stalks with seed heads will very easily pull out without any effort.  The photograph on the right shows newly cut foliage right after rejuvenation. Once your daylilies are cut back be sure they continue to receive watering.   In no time you will have plants that appear as they do in early spring bursting with beautiful new growth and flowers. Once the plants have had their final bloom into the fall allow the foliage to die completely back and then remove any decaying debris from around the plant and apply a thin layer of mulch.

rejuvenated 1 month ago

Rejuvenated Daylily After One Month

This method also works with other varieties of daylily with a shorter bloom time such as ‘Pardon Me’ and ‘Sammy Russell’ but should be performed in July after these plants are done blooming. Other perennials such a Salvia also benefit from a mid-late summer pruning which is explained in this article.  If you are looking to extend the enjoyment of your summer garden rejuvenation is a simple and quick process well worth the time for it will prolong your enjoyment of blooms well into fall.

As Always…Happy Gardening!

 Author:  Lee@Landscape Design By Lee, 2014, All Rights Reserved

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Feature Plant: Liriope muscari ‘Variegata’

Liriope muscari ‘Variegata’

Spring is approaching and soon it will be time to get back into the garden.  One of the most versatile perennials I have known over the years is variegated liriope (Liriope muscari ‘Variegata). Also known as Lilyturf, this cultivar has a grass-like appearance and grows in neatly rounded clumps which do not spread aggressively like Liriope spicata.

Liriope ‘Variegata’ is cold hardy in USDA zones 5-10, grows in full sun to shade and will tolerate a range of conditions from moist soil to drought conditions.  It grows to a height of 12-16 inches and is mainly evergreen displaying cream and green variegated foliage.  Showy flower spikes of deep lilac blooms resembling grape hyacinth emerge in late summer and last into fall followed by dark berries which persist into winter. Liriope is adaptable under pine and walnut trees and is excellent when used as a ground cover or border.   It is also widely used for erosion control, considered to be rabbit and deer resistant and is drought tolerant once established.

This versatile plant fits well into just about any type of garden from informal to formal and is very hardy and reliable in performance year after year.  Liriope is completely evergreen in warmer climates and is semi-evergreen here on Long Island. It can be cut back part way in fall or left until spring to be pruned.  If browning occurs over winter simply cut back in early spring to allow for new growth to appear.   Variegated liriope is easy to grow, fairly disease resistant and will provide interest to your garden all year round.  It will prove to be a dependable and versatile addition to any landscape.

As Always…Happy Gardening!

Author:  Lee@Landscape Design By Lee, 2014, All Rights Reserved

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Ornamental Grasses & Sedges for the Landscape

Ornamental grasses and various varieties of sedge are often used in landscape design in order to add grace and movement to a garden. There are a vast variety of plants to choose from so I will discuss a few of the more popular and widely used species that are all hardy in zone 7.  Ornamental grasses and sedges can fit into a variety of landscapes including foundation plantings, poolscapes, perennial borders, rock gardens and naturalized settings, and as an added bonus, most are also deer resistant.

GRASS Dwarf Fountain Grass Hameln

Dwarf Fountain Grass Hameln

Dwarf Fountain Grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Hameln’) is an attractive dwarf grass growing to 2-3 feet in height and hardy in zones 4-11.  ‘Hameln’ requires full sun and prefers a well-drained soil. It is drought tolerant once established.  It is known for its wispy green foliage in summer and golden-rust foliage and fluffy, buff-colored plumes appearing in fall. ‘Hameln’ works nicely along with evergreens or flowering shrubs in a foundation planting or as a backdrop in a perennial bed. There is even a smaller sized variety of this grass called ‘Little Bunny’ which grows to only 1-2 feet in height and width for tighter areas. The grass is almost identical to ‘Hameln’ only the foliage and plumes are on a slightly smaller scale.

 Maiden Grass Yaku Jima

Maiden Grass Yaku Jima

Miscanthus sinensis ‘Yaku Jima’ is a hardy ornamental grass in zones 5-8 and grows to 4-5 feet in height. It requires full sun and is drought tolerant once established. ‘Yaku Jima’ serves nicely as a backdrop in a perennial border or in a privacy screening. It also looks beautiful in a poolscape or pond planting. The beauty of this dwarf version of traditional Miscanthus is that is does not become top-heavy and flop over but rather remains upright throughout the season. .

Maiden Grass 'Morning Light'

Maiden Grass ‘Morning Light’

Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’ is another form of upright grass with narrow green foliage edged in creamy-white. It is hardy to zones 5-9 and requires full sun to partial shade and grows to a height of 4-6 feet tall by 3 feet wide. Coppery-pink plumes emerge in fall.   ‘Morning Light’ also serves nicely in pool settings and perennial or privacy borders along with evergreens.  The variegation contrasts nicely with an evergreen backdrop.

Halenkolea Japanese Forest Grass

Halenkolea Japanese Forest Grass

Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’ (Golden Japanese Forest Grass) is one of the most attractive of the ornamental grasses and one of the few that prefers to be grown in shade  Hardy to zones 4-9, Hakonechloa forms mounds of bamboo-looking grass growing to 6-8 inches tall by 12-18 inches wide. Japanese Forest Grass prefers a moist loamy soil and serves nicely in an informal setting such as a garden border or shade garden.

Carex 'Evergold' Sedge

Carex ‘Evergold’ Sedge

Carex oshimensis ‘Evergold’ (Variegated Japanese Sedge) is a grass-like Japanese selection forming low clumps only 6-8 inches tall by 9-12 inches wide.  It prefers to be grown in part sun to full shade in a moist, loamy soil.  Carex ‘Evergold’ is hardy in zones 5-9 and displays a green-yellow variegated foliage.  It serves nicely in a rock garden, foundation planting or perennial border.

Carex 'Aurea'

Carex ‘Aurea’

Carex ‘Aurea’ is another form of Carex displaying golden foliage and growing to a height and width of 2-3 feet.  This Carex is hardy in zones 5-9 and prefers full sun to partial shade a moderately moist soil. Glowing yellow foliage has an edging of green and forms dense upright clumps which fit nicely into pond settings and in shady areas.

Japanese Bloodgrass
                          Japanese Bloodgrass

Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra’  (Japanese blood grass) is often used in naturalized areas displaying its bright red-green foliage.  Japanese Bloodgrass grows to a height and width of 12-18 inches and forms clumps that spread by rhizomes. It is hardy in ones 5-9 and prefers full sun to partial shade and a well-drained soil.  This species of ornamental grass can spread easily so plant in an area where it can be controlled.such as the pool planter shown above.

Golden Sweet Flag

Golden Sweet Flag

Acorus gramineus ‘Ogon’ (Golden Variegated Sweet Flag) is not a true grass but has a grass-like appearance growing in dense upright mounds of bright golden foliage. Sweet Flag is hardy in zones 5-11 and prefer to be grown in partial sun to dense shade in a moderately moist soil.  Mature size is 8-12 inches high by wide and Sweet Flag serves nicely in a pond setting, rock garden, or foundation planting as a ground cover under the canopy of trees.

Zebra Grass

Zebra Grass

The last grass, Miscanthus sinensis ‘Zebrinus’ (Zebra Grass) is known of its striking horizontally banded foliage.   Golden-yellow bands on green fronds are displayed on this larger upright clumping grass that reaches a height and spread of 6 feet and up to 8 feet tall with plumes.   Miscanthus sinensis ‘Zebrinus’ prefers to be grown in full sun to partial shade in a well-drained soil and is hardy in zones 5-9. Tiny pinkish-copper tassel-like flower heads form in late summer, gradually turning into silvery white plumes in fall. Flower plumes persist well into winter providing good winter interest.  This plant serves nicely in an informal beach-like or coastal setting.

Depending on your landscape, ornamental grasses can add wonderful all-season interest to the garden and serve a variety of functions.  There are so many varieties of sizes and foliage to choose from that they can fit into just about any type of setting.

As Always…Happy Gardening!

Author:  Lee@Landscape Design By Lee, 2014, All Rights Reserved

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