New grasses for autumn planters

Ornamental grasses have been a staple of transition from summer to autumn.

New grasses for autumn planters

Autumn means different things to different people.

To some, it is the beginning of the dreaded spider season, when hopeful (or sinister, depending on your arachnid sympathies) cobwebs are strewn everywhere in the garden.

Others, like me, look forward to the cooler weather, which brings many good things like the harvest from our vegetable gardens, the fiery fall foliage colours and a foreseeable end to cutting the lawn.

Another seasonal task is transitioning our containers from summer bedding and frost-tender plants to those that provide winter colour and tolerate the colder weather.

Ornamental grasses have been a staple of this transition with Carex ‘Evergold’, Black Mondo Grass (Ophiopogon ‘Nigrescens’), Carex buchananii and the pumpkin orange foliage of Carex testacea being just a few favoured choices.

Ornamental grass breeders have taken notice and are busy pumping out a plethora of new cultivars in order to provide a little more variety.

Prominent among these is FitzGerald Nurseries of Ireland. Its spectacular Evercolour Series of Carex oshimensis cultivars are just taking centre stage now.

Ironically this series began with a birthday gift of 200 nine-centimetre Carex ‘Evergold’ given to Pat FitzGerald by his then girlfriend, now wife (proving that food isn’t the only way into a man’s heart).

It eventually became a regular crop for the nursery, until Pat started paying close attention to the beautiful sports or foliage mutations.

That attention to detail has resulted in the eye-catching Evercolour Series, which includes ‘Everest’ (pure white variegation’), ‘Everlime’ (lime green variegation), ‘Everillo’ (lime green to gold foliage), ‘Everoro’ (a much-improved ‘Evergold’) and ‘Everdi’ (pure green).

All are reliably hardy in coastal British Columbia and have an arching growth habit that looks quite elegant in container plantings.

Although not necessarily new, Liriope muscari ‘Monroe White’ can be a rare find, even though its evergreen foliage and large pure white late summer to fall flowers fit right into the autumn transition.

Other notable Lily Turfs with contrasting variegated foliage include ‘Silver Dragon’ (white variegation, pale lavender flowers), ‘Variegata’ (cream margins, violet-blue flowers) and ‘Silvery Sunproof’ (yellow to cream margins, lilac flowers).

The silver highlights of Blue Fescue Grass (Festuca glauca) are often overlooked for fall planters because the color is difficult to pair with the typical autumn hues of orange, red and yellows.

That said, there is nothing stopping you from going in a completely different direction, such as pairing it with a bright rose-pink Bud Bloomer heather (Calluna vulgaris) and Sedum ‘Angelina’ for a little pop – sure, these are not exactly your typical autumn tones, but the colour will last you right up to Christmas, unlike those asters, fall chrysanthemums and bright orange Chinese Lanterns (Physalis), which are faded and looking a bit tatty in a matter of weeks.

The other benefit of Blue Fescue Grass (including the newer introduction ‘Blue Glow’) is that they are often available in nine-centimetre pots, making them ideal for smaller containers.

Just to show you how hypocritical I can be at times, I am going to make my last suggestion an herbaceous (but hardy) grass that won’t last for months but is in such spectacular autumn form that it deserves a place by your front door. Panicum virgatum ‘Little Red Gem’ is a compact switch grass that shifts from bluish green to a rich burgundy-red in the fall. It tops this off with tiny wine-coloured flowers that sit just above the foliage, making it the perfect container centrepiece.

To view all of these new ornamental grasses in more detail, visit www.mikesgardentop5plants.wordpress.com.

 

Mike Lascelle is a local nursery manager and gardening author.

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

Just Posted

Pitt Meadows resident Bruno James de Faria shared a picture of Pitt River Bridge taken from the West Coast Express. (Special to The News)
SHARE: Commute flies by – literally and figuratively

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon

Two people were sent to hospital after a fire was discovered in a north Pitt Meadows home just before the lunch hour on Sunday, (Nov. 29, 2020). (Shane MacKichan/Special to The News)
Couple burned fighting fire in their Pitt Meadows house

Two occupants were transported to hospital while firefighters battle a blaze in a Harris Road home

(Black Press Media files)
‘Potentially damaging’ winds expected in Metro Vancouver

Wind is expected to pick up late Sunday night

Supt. Jennifer Hyland is the officer in charge of the Ridge Meadows RCMP detachment. (The News/files)
Ridge Meadows RCMP release new strategic plan

Plan details what the force will be focused on for the next three years

The new business park at 12835 Lilley Drive in East Maple Ridge has five live/work units on site. (Ronan O’Doherty/ The News)
Maple Ridge’s newest business park tries to set itself apart from competition

More live-work units, green features make it more than a concrete box, developer says

(Dave Landine/Facebook)
VIDEO: Dashcam captures head-on crash between snowplow and truck on northern B.C. highway

Driver posted to social media that he walked away largely unscathed

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Top doctor urges Canadians to limit gatherings as ‘deeply concerning’ outbreaks continue

Canada’s active cases currently stand at 63,835, compared to 53,907 a week prior

A Canadian Pacific freight train travels around Morant’s Curve near Lake Louise, Alta., on Monday, Dec. 1, 2014. A study looking at 646 wildlife deaths along the railway tracks in Banff and Yoho national parks in Alberta and British Columbia has found that train speed is one of the biggest factors. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Study finds train speed a top factor in wildlife deaths in Banff, Yoho national parks

Research concludes effective mitigation could address train speed and ability of wildlife to see trains

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 airport worker is pictured at Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C. Wednesday, March 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canada extends COVID restrictions for non-U.S. travellers until Jan. 21 amid second wave

This ban is separate from the one restricting non-essential U.S. travel

Langley RCMP issued a $2,300 fine to the Riverside Calvary church in Langley in the 9600 block of 201 Street for holding an in-person service on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020, despite a provincial COVID-19 related ban (Dan Ferguson/Black Press Media)
Updated: Langley church fined for holding in-person Sunday service

Calvary church was fined $2,300 for defying provincial order

The Abbotsford Police Department is investigating a shooting on Adair Avenue on Saturday night. (Photo by Dale Klippenstein)
Drive-by shooting in Abbotsford targeted home with young children, police say

Investigators believe home was mistakenly targeted by assailants

Menno Place. (Google Street View image.)
B.C. care home looks to hire residents’ family members amid COVID-19-related staff shortage

Family would get paid as temporary workers, while having chance to see loved ones while wearing PPE

Most Read