what is the prettiest grass in a Winter Landscape?

hlechat(5 (the colder edge of 5 :-))February 17, 2005

Hello all!!

I just read a few years' worth of postings, and had a great time doing it!

I could not find the answer to my question, though, which is, what grasses look best in the winter, with some snow?

I became interested in grasses when I saw so many beautiful clumps this winter. Some were so lovely!! And, of course, others weren't!!

I have purchased some seeds for the following grasses:

Lagurus ovatus "Hare's Tail Grass"

Luzula nivea "Snowy Woodrush"

Pennesitum alopecuroides vridescens "Fountain Grass Black-Seeded

Pennisetum setaceum "Tender Fountain Grass"

Stipa tenuissima "Mexican Feather Grass - 'Pony Tails'"

Also, let me know if you have heard of any bad behavior from these!! :-) (runners, self-seeding too agressively)

Looking forward to the replies, and to next winter!


Zone 5

Northeast Indiana

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What is the "prettiest" grass in winter is going to be a matter of personal taste and what grows well in your location. I happen to prefer evergreen grasses that look good in all seasons but they don't offer the same impressive stature and showy seedheads of warm season deciduous grasses. And we get very little snow so how they look with a dusting of the nasty, cold white stuff is not a consideration for me. Try as many as you fancy - most folks think the various forms of Miscanthus sinensis offer pretty dramatic winter interest in colder climates.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2005 at 11:03PM
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well_rooted(5, BC Canada)

My vote goes to Saccharum ravennae.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2005 at 11:51PM
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Karl Foerester Grass. Don't know it's 'technical' name.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2005 at 9:33AM
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John_Blakeman(z5/6 OH)

Schizachyrium scoparium, little bluestem, turns a wonderful russet in fall and winter. A single plant is interesting -- a mass of them stunning. When the plant gets soaked in late fall and winter rains (we have those in NE Indiana and my northern Ohio), the plant actually glows, as though it's on fire. Brightens the otherwise gray-brown-blackness of our morbid winter landscapes.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2005 at 10:51AM
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Molinia caerulea "Skyracer" is a knockout. It turns a gorgeous golden yellow in fall and stands up well throughout winter, despite heavy snowfalls or near blizzard conditions.


    Bookmark   February 21, 2005 at 3:53AM
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gunthera1(z4/5 WI)

Does anyone have any pictures of their winter gardens for inspiration?

    Bookmark   February 21, 2005 at 2:26PM
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RosesinGrayslake(z5a North IL)

I have many grasses (miscanthus sinensis silberfeil, silberfeder, bluttenwunder, goliath, giganteus/florideus, adagio, Huron Sunrise and Morning light), but standing most magnificently in my zone 5A garden, through ice, snow and wind, is miscanthus sinensis gracillimus. Stunning. If you have room, plant a group; you won't regret it. I agree with many of the other great recommendations. Calamagrostis acutifolia 'Karl Foerster' and chasmathium latifolium are also standouts.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2005 at 5:24PM
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Mary Palmer

Here are a few pix of fall & winter grasses in my garden. I love grasses and wouldn't be without them!

    Bookmark   February 28, 2005 at 12:55AM
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Those are absolutely awesome, Mary! I love seeing pics from WA. Such lush settings with all of that greenery as a backdrop!

Thanks so much for sharing.


    Bookmark   February 28, 2005 at 10:50AM
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jake(z4b-5 NE)

RosesinGrayslake -

Reading your post I see that you state the fact that you have M.s. Adagio and Huron Sunrise.

Being you are located in Z5a have you had any damage from the temperatures or do you have your grasses in a somewhat protected setting?

I was going to get M.s. Adagio but reading that it was a Z6 and the fact that our gardens are more open and subjected to the northwest winds I got cold feet and did not get Adagio.

I agree with you on the beauty of C.a. Karl Foerster but around here it is planted more than all the Miscanthus grasses added together.

One thing that I have noticed reading all the Orn Grass posts is the limited amount of people that have Panicum grasses planted in their yard or gardens.

Yes Panicum grasses have been mentioned but not by very many so it seems. We have a stand of P.v. "Heavy Metal" that is a total eye grabbing, dense forest of blue to blue green turning deep burgundy in the fall causing people that walk along the trail to stop and come into our yard to get a closer look.

P.v. "Prairie Sky" with its see through inflorescence is a striking grass but it has the problem of not being real sturdy and does lean and flop on occasion.

Getting back to the Miscanthus grasses I was surprised to read that you also have Silberfeil and Silberfeder. I donÂt recall many if any who have talked about Miscanthus grasses stating they have these two grasses.

What do you think about them? Our Silberfeil in two years time has grown so large I wonder if someone isnÂt feeding it steroids.

The big difference between these two as I see them is Silberfeil has more white w/ green striped leaves while Silberfeder is more green with white stripes. And Silberfeder is a little smaller in size, at least in our plantings.

Last statement IÂll make to any one reading this post is " ... cut back your ornamental grasses in the spring after you new growth. Not in the fall or winter".


    Bookmark   March 2, 2005 at 6:27PM
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jake(z4b-5 NE)

I never really stated what grass or grasses I think offer a good winter interest. Being in the 5 - 4b zones with snow and harsh winter winds I see M.s. Gracillimus, M.s. November Sunset, P.v. Heavy Metal, C.a. Karl Foerster as the grasses that defy the winter conditions.

The last two being the sentinels of the garden, standing erect and watchful over the slumbering remains of their fellow garden members.

All ornamental grasses have their own statement as the growing season comes to a close but the strength of their winter characteristics is what catches my eyes and my appreciation for these ornamental grasses.

Our P.s. National Arboretum is a beautiful grass but it collapses under the winter snows and lies flat and unattractive.

M.s. Silberfeil like National Arboretum droops and generally just lays there. Beautiful during the growing season but a flop in the winter. Many grasses come winter time turn to a pale vanilla color, to a soft brown, some more golden and bright making the winter snows appear bland and lifeless.

Winter time is a glorious time for ornamental grasses, when the snow covers the grasses it can create statues and objects that make ones imagination dance as you sweep your eyes across the garden.

Ornamental grasses .... a man's perennials. Plant 'em, grab a refreshment and watch 'em grow, cut 'em back, grab a refreshment .......!!


    Bookmark   March 3, 2005 at 9:30AM
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Miscanthus is gorgeous in the winter. The ends curl up into ringlets if you have the gracilimus types with fine foliage. My stipa is fabulous in a container qll winter. My Molinia is totally flattened. My Miscanthus Saccariflorus keeps standing back up when the snow melts. I have people pull over all of the time to ask what it is. My Panicum has also help up perfectly all winter. Little Blue Stem is very unique and winner hands down for the fall. I have many others but you mentioned winter.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2005 at 7:34PM
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