Beautiful accents to flowers with ornamental grass companions

Beautiful accents to flowers with ornamental grass companions

Weekly column by Mike Lascelle, a gardening author and Pitt Meadows nursery manager

Some things just belong together. Take your average hotdog for instance; without a compliment of spicy mustard, fresh chopped onions and a cold beer, it’s really just dubious meat that has been ground and stuffed into a tube – handy to eat, but hardly haute cuisine. In the gardening world, ornamental grasses have much the same reputation…particularly to men, who have spent far too much time mowing lawns to allow any more ‘grass’ to be planted in the garden. They just assume that ornamental grasses are as much work as the lawn species (which they aren’t) and completely overlook the aesthetic beauty.

So I’ve decided to suggest a few perennial companions in order to improve their visual appeal and try to overcome this gender bias. Which means that you ladies may actually get to buy two plants instead of the usual tussle over the one grass – just make sure the men in your lives read this article (I suggest leaving it by the remote control for the television).

Geranium ‘Rozanne – This 2008 Perennial Plant of the Year was discovered in Somerset England in 1989. It features large (up to 6cm) blooms of violet-blue with a white eye from May to September, which means that it is still in flower when many of the warm-season grasses are in their prime. It looks particularly striking when combined with gold-leaved grasses such Hakonechloa ‘Aureola’ (as shown) and the foliage takes on bronze-red tones in autumn. ‘Rozanne’ is deer resistant and grows 40-50cm high by 60 cm wide. Hardy to zone 4.

Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’ – With a name that translates as ‘gold storm’, you know you can expect a flurry of thin-petaled golden yellow daisies contrasted by dark brown cones. These are borne in late summer (July – October) and work well in combination with ornamental grasses such as Pennisetum ‘Hameln’, or for a little more contrast try Japanese Blood Grass (Imperata ‘Red Baron’). This Black-Eyed Susan is much more reliably perennial than Gloriosa Daisies (Rudbeckia hirta) and was the 1999 Perennial Plant of the Year. Attracts butterflies. Grows 60-75cm high and is hardy to zone 4.

Perovskia atriplicifolia ‘Little Spire’ – This compact Russian sage is less prone to falling over and features airy violet-blue flowers over much of its stems from midsummer through to frost. The pungent silvery foliage contrasts well with other plants and this species is also quite drought tolerant once established. Pair with dwarf gold-banded Miscanthus sinensis, such as ‘Gold Bar’ or ‘Little Zebra’. Grows 45-60 cm high and wide. Hardy to zone 5.

Coreopsis verticillata ‘Zagreb’ – An RHS Award of Garden Merit winner covered in 2.5cm wide bright yellow daisies (from June to September) which attract butterflies. Absolutely eye-catching when combined with Lavandula angustifolia ‘Hidcote’ or Blue Oatgrass (Helictotrichon sempervirens). It develops into clumps of airy green foliage that never seems to overwhelm adjacent perennials and is less prone to flopping than ‘Moonbeam’. Grows 38-45cm high by 45cm wide. Hardy to zone 4.

Sedum x ‘Mr. Goodbud’ – This tall stonecrop is a hybrid of Sedum spectabile ‘Brilliant’ and features large broccoli-like clusters of bright purplish-pink flowers in late summer. It was a 2006 RHS Award of Garden Merit winner and has shorter, stronger stems that don’t require staking. Dormant seed heads can be left for the birds to forage on in winter. Combine with Carex ‘Sparkler’. Grows 40cm high by 45-50cm wide. Hardy to zone 3.

Helenium x ‘Double Trouble’ – This Dutch introduction of Sneezeweed (used to be used for snuff) bears sterile blooms of bright yellow with layered petals surrounding a green to golden cone. These have strong stems and make good cut flowers but may require staking in fertile soils (you could also pinch plants when they are 15-20cm high). A true work of art when paired with Purple Fountain Grass (Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’). Grows 75cm high by 45-60cm wide. Hardy to zone 4.

• You can find more ornamental grasses and perennial companions on my blog mikesgardentop5plants.wordpress.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Pitt Meadows Art Gallery. (The News/files)
Calling all photographers for Pitt Meadows juried exhibition

Show will run Feb. 6 to Mar. 28 at Pitt Meadows Art Gallery

RCMP are reopening the community police office in Pitt Meadows effective Dec. 1. (The News files)
Pitt Meadows community police office reopens

City awaiting decisions about separate RCMP detachment

RE/MAX LifeStyles Realty donated $3,500 to the Christmas Hamper Society. (Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Christmas Hamper Society/Special to The News)
Christmas hamper deadline extended for residents of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows

Anyone needing help needs to get in touch with the Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Christmas Hamper Society

Jacob Mattson was delighted once he completed 250 laps of the Maple Ridge Secondary School’s track. (Special to The News)
Maple Ridge man runs mega-marathon for Movember

Jacob Mattson, 25, only started running frequently nine months ago

A tongue-in-cheek message about wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 on a sign outside a church near Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection count climbs back up to 656

20 more people in hospital, active cases still rising

Mirandy Tracy, left, and Tara Kurtz are two Langley mothers who are organizing a "sick out" for Tuesday, Dec. 1 to protest COVID conditions in schools. They're calling for masks and smaller class sizes, among other things. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
Politician, labour leader throw support behind student Sick Out day

Langley parents started the movement to keep kids home on Dec. 1 as a protest

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A family emerged with a purchase at the Tannenbaum Tree Farm at 5398 252 St in Aldergrove on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)
Christmas tree season is off to an early start

People are ‘bored’ with staying home due to COVID-19 and want to decorate early, farm owner believes

A heavy police presence was on scene on Dec. 28, 2017 following the shooting death on Bates Road in Abbotsford of Alexander Blanarou, 24, of Surrey. (Abbotsford News file photo)
Three men charged with Abbotsford shooting death of Surrey man

Alexander Blanarou, 24, was killed in a rural area on Dec. 28, 2017

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. researchers launch study to test kids, young adults for COVID-19 antibodies

Kids and youth can often be asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus

A convoy of seven pickup trucks, six of which were hauling boats, makes its way around the Chilliwack Law Courts on Dec. 1, 2020. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
First court date for Fraser River anglers ticketed during demonstration fishery

Convoy of trucks circled the courthouse in downtown Chilliwack Tuesday honking their support

Most Read