Fall is in the air and with the crunchy leaves and pumpkin flavored everything comes clearance sales at nurseries and garden centers! I’ve spent the past few weekends rotating through my local garden centers scoping out the sales and trying to find items on my must have plant list. I got lucky last weekend at Vineyard Garden Center when I came across some lovely maiden grass on sale 50% off. Maiden grass is one of my favorites because it can grow up to 3-5′ tall and wide, providing substance and size in a hurry.
Another benefit of ornamental grass is fall and winter interest. As they go to seed in the fall, most grasses produce lovely seed heads that add texture and visual interest to a fall garden. Their blades change from greenish hues to varying shades of crackling brown, yet remain upright in spite of all that lovely nitrogen returning to the roots for winter storage. As other deciduous trees and shrubs abandon their leaves completely by late fall grasses will maintain their structure. The wispy browns pair nicely with evergreens to transition nicely into winter months. Ornamental grasses can become less of a visual factor once heavy snow hits, as it will here in Utah at some point. The blades bent down by snowfall won’t perk back up as the snow melts, they will simply lay there crushed and horizontal to the ground. In early spring the grasses should be trimmed back, about 6 inches or so from the soil. As soon as warmer weather starts to arrive, fresh new blades will emerge.
With the inspiration from my newly purchased maiden grasses I drew up a quick island planting bed design. In addition to maiden grass this design features some of my other grassy favorites: blue oat grass and dwarf fountain grass. I focused on perennial and shrub pairings that show specifically some fall interest , and grounded the entire design with evergreen mugo pine and decorative landscaping rock. As you can see I received a little help during the final phase of the design process. A certain little girl woke up from her nap and was dying to assist me. At four months she already has an adoration for all things growing. especially anything yellow and growing. My explanation of the design literally had her drooling as pointed out the placement of my salvias and heucheras. A girl after my own heart.