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  • Andropogon
    • gerardii ‘Io Saturnalia’   CAG03125
      Height1.5m
      Width50cm
      Flowering SeasonSp - Au
      WaterM
      LightSun
      Andropogon gerardii ‘Io Saturnalia’
      for $7.00earn 35 points

      A select form of good bluish green that flowers abundantly to provide height while remaining suitably insouciant well into winter.

      A perennial grass forming a dense clump of soft, gently weeping, 5mm wide, rich blue-green foliage which quickly mounds to knee height when the slender flower stems take over, erect but not stiff and reaching 1.5m by late spring, bearing brownish turkeyfoots that add substance without opacity, a soft haze from a distance. With cold autumn weather the whole plant turns various shades of orange to yellow then soft fawn with the flowering stems holding until removed or flattened by inclement weather.

      A mass planting interspersed with other tall summer perennials, Rudbeckia laciniata and Verbena bonariensis would be ideal for a start, for a model tall grass prairie or plant as isolated clumps amongst low growers, or even just gravel, to accentuate its vase like form.

      Easily grown in any sunny soil, pointless in shade, with moisture until flowering time after which the deeply penetrating roots, which make it terribly unsuited to pot culture, enable it to survive dryness. In moist conditions it can be cut to ground level in late spring for a second coming, keeping it fresh all summer. Permanent, after a few years its girth is easily reduced with a sharp spade and after 10 years or so you may need to replant it deeper as the crown rises up on itself.

      The easiest of all grasses to maintain (15 seconds per annum), totally winter dormant with no annoying opportunistic growth. Once dormant and when desired simply remove all the previous years growth with a sweep of the hand, it detaches neatly at ground level leaving no unsightly stubble and ensuring a clean fresh start every spring.

      The longer I grow it the greater my appreciation, long lasting effortless dynamism.

  • Calamagrostis
    • x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’   CAG02016
      Height1.8m
      Width60cm
      Flowering SeasonSp - Au
      WaterM
      LightSun
      for $7.00earn 35 points

      A clumping grass of European origin and great repute, discovered by the notable Dutch nurseryman of the same name. A dense clump of gently weeping, rich green, 5mm wide leaves producing many vertical stems bearing tan plumes that are long lasting and age to a rich straw. Unfortunately evergreen in our climate, so we don't get the outstanding seasonal form of colder regions, but a good cut to ground level each autumn will see it fresh and vigorous through winter.

      Easily grown in any soil with moderate summer moisture.

      Has a more definitive presence than more arching, weeping type grasses, to the extant that it can be used in formal or rigid designs and makes an ideal soft, seasonal divider or low screen between different areas in the garden when in flower.

  • Carex
    • testacea   CAG00168
      Height30cm
      Width50cm
      Flowering SeasonSpring
      WaterM
      LightSun
      Carex testacea
      for $7.00earn 35 points

      Low weeping mounds of tough but fine textured, keeled, grassy foliage are tinted bright orange, most intensely over winter, a foliage colour very rarely encountered. Inconsequential tassel-like flowers are borne during spring and blend in amongst the foliage.

      One of the choicest New Zealand sedges and certainly one of the hardier varieties in our climate, easily grown in any soil and tolerant of some drought. Superb when planted with other brightly coloured grassy plants, succulents, as a foil for your favourite purple foliaged shrub or as a feature in a glazed pot.

      Dividing and replanting every couple of years or so, when too many old leaves have accumulated, is a better option than cutting back which leaves unsightly stubble visible for a long period.

  • Chasmanthium
    • latifolium   CAG00174

      (Sea oats, River oats) Syn. Uniola latifolia
      Height80m
      Width50cm
      Flowering SeasonSummer
      WaterH - M
      LightSun - L. Sh.
      Chasmanthium latifolium
      for $7.00earn 35 points

      A moisture loving perennial grass forming a vase shaped clump of reed like stems with gracefully arching spring green leaves, topped by early summer with panicles of dangling flattened oats which quickly turn a warm tan while the foliage remains fresh.
      If cut to ground level while still summer a second crop can be produced, just as fresh but less grand.

      Winter dormant and holds its form well initially but is very brittle, making it easier to snap down, rather than cut down, to make way for next seasons growth when you tire of it. Can self sow in moist soil (you're watering too frequently) so cut before seed drop if annoying, you will still get have at least a couple of months of interest out of the seed heads beforehand.

      Native to most of south eastern United States and easily grown in any summer moist soil and performs quite well in light shade. I favour it in separate elegant clumps rather than massed and it can be stunning in a fancy pot.

  • Miscanthus
    • x giganteus   CAG01211
      Height2.5m
      Width1.5m
      Flowering SeasonSummer
      WaterM
      LightFull Sun
      for $7.00earn 35 points

      A Winter dormant, clumping, perennial grass and perhaps the most dynamic and useful plant you can have in your garden. Emerging in August the cane like stems, bearing 2cm wide, gracefully arching, grassy leaves, reach by late January 2m or more, to then be topped by feathery plumes on 60cm long stalks.

      One of my favourite plants. In spring each year I am amazed at how each day the lush growth gains height, in summer I love it's towering presence and the rustle of the leaves in the wind, in autumn for it's change of coat as a backdrop for just about everything and in winter for it's unadorned verticality and lack thereof when I finally reduce it to nothing.

      Cut down in late autumn or leave the naked, straw coloured, stems for winter interest, to be cut down as the new growth emerges.

      Unlike most Miscanthus, in our climate M. x giganteus does go completely winter dormant.

      The cut stems are an excellent long lasting mulch and make great light duty garden stakes, as we use in the nursery.
      In other parts of the world it is used for many purposes, from making biodegradable pots to fuelling power plants.

  • Setaria
    • palmifolia   CAG03141

      (Palm grass)
      Height40cm
      Width1m
      Flowering SeasonSu - Au
      WaterM - L
      LightSun - Shade
      for $7.00earn 35 points

      A tropical Asian grass that forms a ground hugging mound of remarkable, broad (8cm), lance shaped, pleated leaves from stout coarsely hairy stems, with panicles of small brownish seeds adding little more than interest.

      Evergreen, shade tolerant and remarkable durable, it'll still look great after several decades of complete neglect. If it has a weakness it is that its cardboardy foliage is a rather dull green, pigeonholing it as a stalwart rather than a star but in a minimalist or utilitarian concrete environment it can shine, a mulch of polished black pebbles can help, or a carpet of Hedera ‘Glacier’ or Viola banksii, with maybe a few clumps of Carex oshimensis ‘Evergold’. Otherwise use its valuable texture mixed into bold tropical inspired plantings or just filling those difficult root filled dry spots under trees. I imagine it to be a superb candidate for larger vertical gardens.

      Easily grown in any soil and will even perform well unirrigated in Perth once well established. Don't expose to direct frost. Occasionally self sows, more so in the tropics.

  • Stipa
    • gigantea   CAG01393

      (Golden oats, Giant feather grass)
      Height2m
      Width1m
      Flowering SeasonSp - Su
      WaterL
      LightFull Sun
      for $7.00earn 35 points

      Among the best of all grasses in the mediterranean climate and undoubtedly one of the showiest of flower anywhere and deservedly popular because of it.

      Sturdy, stiffly angled stems are topped with open panicles of golden-straw coloured, oat-like spikelets to float well above the loose, knee-high, clump of narrow, blue-green, nondescript foliage, which tends to disappear among low plants. For ethereal height and dreaminess, glowing when back lit by early morning or late afternoon sun and often seen used to stunning effect by savvy gardeners.

      Indestructible in any lean, well drained, sunny soil, summer irrigation is superfluous. A cool season grass from Spain, Portugal and Morocco that needs a couple of years to settle in and flower well, and then becoming more impressive with time. Remove spent flowers when their long season of interest is over, don't cut back, its not that kind of grass, better to divide and replant in the cool of autumn if it ever becomes too untidy but this is typically a symptom of over watering and/or inadequate exposure.

  • Andropogon
    • gerardii   CAG02015

      (Big bluestem, Turkey foot)
      Height2m
      Width50cm
      Flowering SeasonSummer
      WaterM - L
      LightFull Sun
      Andropogon gerardii
      CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE

      A magnificent deciduous grass from the tall grass prairies of North America. Soft, mid to blue green, narrow leaves rise from a dense clump of subterranean corms. Unexciting three parted flowers are borne in Summer but it in Autumn the leaves colour spectacularly, in reds, yellows and oranges.
      Makes an elegant screen, backdrop or cattle feed.
      Very deep rooted and dry tolerant once established.

      Well behaved, long lived, thrives in all but extremely wet soil and extremely low maintenance, cut it to ground level in Winter. Big bluestem is one of the best ornamental grasses and cannot be recommended or planted enough.

  • Austrostipa
    • mollis   CAG02517

      (Soft spear grass)
      Height1.2m
      Width40cm
      Flowering SeasonSp - Au
      WaterL
      LightSun
      CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE

      A southern Australian grass that would lend itself to creative planting. Stiffly vertical stalks are topped with tapered plumes, dark tinted and feathery in seed then fading to pale straw, luminous in low angle light, and lasting for many months above an unobtrusive, low, sparse clump of downy, sage green, linear leaves.

      Stunning in mass, as sometimes still seen in the wild, or scattered through low plantings to add barely there height. Likely to be long lived and naturalise on lean, bare soil. A native verge/median strip of grass waving in the breeze would seem plausible but perhaps unpalatable to sanitised gardeners/municipalities.

      Easily grown in any well drained soil, especially low nutrient sands, where after a short establishment period summer water will be optional. Annual removal of tired plumes is the only investment of time required.

  • Calamagrostis
    • foliosa   CAG02254

      (Leafy reedgrass)
      Height30cm
      Width50cm
      Flowering SeasonSp - Su
      WaterM - L
      LightSun - L. Sh.
      Calamagrostis foliosa
      CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE

      A small, cool season, shade tolerant grass from northern California that makes a soft mound of blue-green leaves with many gracefully arching, narrow, tan coloured plumes that last for months. Very neat and attractive with an annual trim in autumn as growth commences.

      For any soil with some shelter from midday sun. Occasional drinks through summer would be advisable as I've seen little evidence of drought tolerance but needs further testing.

      Tentatively offered as it seems to greatly resent division and root disturbance, I might not repeat the feat. I would expect greater reliability in cooler mediterranean climes.

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