Ornamental grasses to structure a garden

Arroyo(z4b Taos NM)September 16, 2005

Anyone know of examples of ornamental grasses (e.g. miscanthus sinensis cultivars) being used as the "bones" of a Japanese garden?

I'm just beginning. Using the drainage contours--small arroyos to structure the space. 3 bridges are in place. Cover cropping in the arroyos to build organic matter. Several OG planted as experiments in the adobe soil.

Thanks, Joel

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nachodaddy(quiet, I’m trying to meditate!)


If you have not done so already pick up David Slawson's book "Secret Teachings in the Art of Japanese Gardens". IMHO, the best Western book on Japanese Garden design theory. Read, take notes, walk your garden, repeat as necessary.

To answer your question, I believe "yes, it can be done". If you want to make it formal, I have always thought that sage can be a good substitute for azalea in desert climates.

Look forward to investing in a lot of larger stones. "Dry landscaping" does not have to mean barren but in your case you might need to offset some green for hardscape.

If you are just beginning and have the beginner mindset, take a roadie to the Japanese Friendship Garden in Phoenix. Based on your initial post, I think you will find a lot of answers there.

Good luck, keep an open mind, spend more time outdoors finding those "things" that are the tenets of Japanese Gardens.


    Bookmark   September 17, 2005 at 11:59AM
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Cytania(UK Midlands)

Miscanthus does appear in scrubby hill areas of Japan but that doesn't seem to be the kind of a landscape you are creating.

I'm sure miscanthus could be used, particulary as a substitute for ferns in the same way palms substitute for ferns in Okinawa gardens.

Most miscanthus cultivars originate from one prolific German hybridiser including the one I have 'Nippon' which I believe is the smallest miscanthus cultivar (still looks quite tall at over a metre).

I think your desert garden is going to look amazing soon! Well done.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2005 at 6:44AM
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Gardener_KS(zone 5 KS)

What about bamboo?

    Bookmark   September 24, 2005 at 10:16AM
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Arroyo(z4b Taos NM)

Bamboo would be wonderful but their are only a few mountain bamboo cultivars that are zone4b. My understanding is that bamboo loves shade or dappled shade -- non-existent in my situation.

My internet-derived list of z4b OG that do well in clay, and full sun, and have strong winter interest :
M.sinensis purpurescens
M.sinensis Gracillimus
Sorghastrum nutans
Andropogon gerardii
Penisitum alopecuroides Hamelyn (a bit chancy but planting location is protected by a wall which will also bounce and capture winter sun)
Penicum virgatum (rejected because we are in grasshopper country)
Calamgrostis acutiflora Karl Foerster
Helictotrichon sempervirens

Appreciate any comments or suggestions.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2005 at 3:53PM
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