What do you plant around the base?

christie_sw_mo(Z6)June 9, 2005

Looking for suggestions for something relatively short to plant at the base of a clump of ornamental grass. Around one clump of 'Avalanche' feather reed grass I'm trying Big Ears lamb's ears but they're new plantings so I can't tell how it's going to look yet. I thought the big leaves would make a nice contrast. I have another clump of the same grass and also some Zebra grass that I need to plant around. The Zebra grass is close to weigela 'Wine and Roses' with burgundy leaves.

I don't want to plant something that will spread into the grass and mix together.

Can you give me some ideas? Thanks : )

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donn_(7b-8a)

Try dwarf Shasta Daisies, like 'Snow Lady' and 'Silver Princess.' They're both prolific bloomers, and would really pop with the grass as background.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2005 at 6:42AM
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gillespiegardens(Z6 cinti ohio)

fountain grasses look great around the base of the tall miscanthus grasses. its a change in growth habit ( weeping mounded versus tall upright) there are a number of sizes/heights available now too. black eyed susans and russian sage are eyecatching... just dont use the russian sage with a variegated one as its not a dark enough plant to make a good contrast with the white in the variegated ones. looks exceptional against the solid green ones.

Sue
"The one thing all gardeners share in common is a belief in tomorrow"

    Bookmark   June 11, 2005 at 10:17PM
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bellarosa(z5/IL)

Try heuchera, Palace Purple. It has beautiful burgundy leaves.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2005 at 9:20AM
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jake(z4b-5 NE)

Our experiences w/ Shasta Daisies is anything but good. Prolific yes. Prolific in self seeding all over the yard and into places even weeds have trouble growing.

Fountain grasses are a good contrast but height will be an issue unless you read / study which fountain grass will work for you. Try Moudry, National Arboretum, Little Honey or Little Bunny.

Try imperata cylindica "Red Baron". 18"+/- in height. Might be invasive in your area but worth checking into.

Jake

    Bookmark   June 20, 2005 at 3:18PM
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knottyceltic(S/W Ontario 5b)

Wow, there are so many colours of Coleus that would look great mixed with your lambs ears or other perennials that would just give your grass that "punch" at the base of it. Check out this combination I just saw doing a quick google:

Here's another stunning mix of coleus:

Being an annual, you can place it where your lambs ears haven't yet filled in and then do different placements next year or even not at all if the lambs ears take off. I like punchy colours so I'd be inclined to add more/different colours each year.

Barb

    Bookmark   June 22, 2005 at 5:01PM
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blackie57(z5 NY Broome Co)

As Jake stated height with fountain grass will be an issue planted around the base. I have three Pennisetum alopecuroides (the basic kind) planted at the base of three Miscanthus's. Right now their foliage is mounding too high to get the full effect of hte grasses behind them. Next spring I'm going to move them and replace thenm with the "Hamiln" variety like the ones I have planted at either side of the doorway of my shed. I would say the tops of the foliage right now are about 2.5-3 feet tall. Taller than I wanted but when I planted them I was still a novice...now I'm a bit more experianced novice !! :) But all in all, they look wonderful in front of the miscanthus. Here's a photo I took earlier this year.

Another option is some daylilys...they look great....

Best of luck...

Blackie

    Bookmark   July 19, 2005 at 1:02PM
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christie_sw_mo(Z6)

blackie - your beds look so neat. The mulch looks great with the grasses.
knottyceltic - Thank you for posting those pics. I planted an annual called perilla that was new for me this year that looks very much like coleus but it's not. It does better in full sun than coleus would here. I'm trying sun coleus too but it doesn't like the 100 degree temps in the sun that we've been having lately. If I'd know how well the perilla was going to take the heat, I would've bought more. It lagged terribly at the beginning of the season and almost died from the cool temperatures. Now I'm wishing I had planted some around my grass and lamb's ears to give it some punch as you suggested.

Here is a link that might be useful: perilla

    Bookmark   July 25, 2005 at 3:04AM
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juicylucy(z5 IN)

Christie, let your Perilla go to seed and you will have it forever (assuming Magilla isn't sterile)! I just have the plain purple perilla, which I love, esp. since it is so tough and requires no care, but it re-seeds like mad. A clump of it seeded itself at the base of Miscanthus 'Silberfeder' this yr. and it really is a striking combo.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2005 at 4:26PM
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AgastacheMan(z7 CA)

Nepeta "Dropmore", Blue Moon", "Blue Infinity", subssesilis, Delosperma cooperi, Veronica "Georgia Blue", Origanum "Santa Cruz", Lobelia laxiflora are commonly used in my show gardens and personal plots within the bases of my taller grases.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2005 at 10:27PM
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wangshan(Z5 usa MW)

I thought I'd try some annuals , and a bronze carex.

Artimesia silver mound is a good contrast.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2005 at 6:49PM
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triciae(Zone 7 Coastal SE CT)

Russian Sage and Gaura would look nice and give some color in front of the grasses.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2005 at 3:25PM
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