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Add drama to your fall garden with this fashionable ornamental foliage


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Panicums or switchgrass – named after the sound of the whirring sound in the wind – transform into a riot of late summer colors. Varieties such as Panicum ‘Rotstrahlbusch’, an outstanding red, ‘Ruby Ribbons’, a soft blue-green that develops into burgundy-red foliage, and ‘Shenandoah’, whose green leaves turn a striking burgundy in autumn, give an autumn a real drama garden.

Grasses that have an architectural shape have also become very popular. Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’, which has a stiff, upright, narrow habit, makes quite a statement. Two creamy white calamagrostis, ‘Avalanche’ and ‘Overdam’, complement ‘Karl Foerster’ very well.

Andropogon ‘Rain Dance’ is a lesser-known weed that is growing in popularity. Photo for photo courtesy Florissa

The large selection of size variants makes grasses very versatile, especially in patio containers. From the tiny Pennisetum ‘Piglet’ (40 cm) and Pennisetum ‘Little Bunny’ (50 cm) to the large Miscanthus ‘Huron Star’ that is up to 2.5 meters high, there is so much opportunity to be creative. Higher grasses also provide a wonderful screen for a little privacy.

Most grasses prefer a hot, sunny spot, but some grasses can breathe new life into heavily shaded areas. Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’, H. ‘All Gold’ and the beautiful red and lime H. ‘SunFlare’) loves shade, as does most evergreen Carex grasses like ‘Ice Dance’, ‘Evergold’ “and my favorite, the hot lime “Everillo”.