Ornamental Grasses are great companion plants in any garden, including alongside Hibiscus m. ‘Pink Clouds’ (pictured above with lovely Rebecca). Eve has explained, below, the distinguishing features of Cool Season, Warm Season, and Evergreen grasses, and given great descriptions of the most well-known of these grasses. Come on by to take a look at our selection of ornamental grasses and those established in our display gardens!
If you’ve never tried currants or gooseberries, come sample from our shrubs! We have a wide array of varieties and this is a great time to decide which flavor is best for your palette.
We are continuing to give away FREE VEGGIE STARTS and ANNUALS! What?!! Find out more, below. (Left: Zeppelin Delicata Squash)
Looking ahead at our classes, Mikl will conduct his ever-popular Pruning for Strength, Health and Beauty class on Sunday, August 5 at 1 PM (and repeated on September 16 at 1 PM). Give us a quick call at 303-939-9403 to reserve your seat!
SUMMER SALES ABOUND!
40% off 2018 seeds!
Free Veggie and Annual Starts with Purchase!
Snapdragon Black Prince
Salvia Fairy Queen
Salvia Blue Bedder
Get 1 gallon of compost tea for free when you spend over $25!
TYPES OF ORNAMENTAL GRASSES
Harlequin’s Gardens sells “CLUMP GRASSES” (not spreading or sod-forming) in three categories:
Already up and green by March and make active growth in cool weather until it gets hot. They can be kept green through summer by watering, but otherwise they go dormant until the fall, when some of them may begin growing again. Most bloom in June, but a few wait until late summer. Because they begin growing so early in the year, they are subject to being demolished by rabbits. People with resident rabbit populations should choose Warm Season grasses instead. Cut grasses back to 2-3” inches tall before they start their active growth, so light can penetrate the entire clump. Eve does this in February.
Most people grow warm season grasses in this area. Many of our native grasses, and many of the most popular grasses for our area are Warm Season grasses. Wait until early April to cut back warm season grasses. Cut as low as you can, ideally 2-3”, so light can penetrate into the entire clump.
Remain mostly green through the year. Do not cut back. To clean them up in spring, gently ‘comb’ out old dry blades with a hand rake.
COOL SEASON GRASSES
Karl Foerster’s Feather Reed Grass (Calamagrostis acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’)
The most popular and over-used ornamental grass, for good reason. Medium sized (to 4’ tall), very erect form, easy to grow and highly adaptable to everything but shade, very durable flower/seed heads remain attractive all summer, fall and winter. No fall foliage color. Cut down in early February. Try to avoid plantings that look like rows of soldiers standing at attention! Hardy to Zone 4. In stock now!
Korean Feather Reed Grass (Calamagrostis brachytricha)
To 3’ or 4’ tall, with a graceful fountain-like or mounded shape, and waits until the end of the summer to flower. Can take some shade. Very pretty, with pinkish plumes that dry tan. No fall color. Plant Select. Should be used more. Hardy to Zone 4. (Photo credit: Plant Select.) In stock soon!
Indian Rice Grass
Up to 2’ tall. Native to Boulder County and much of the interior West. Grows in very dry areas, in full sun. Graceful, open clumps of very narrow blades, and delicately branched flowering stalks in June. Small pearl-like white seeds are held individually on the much-branched stalks and were collected by Native Americans for use as a grain. Also an important food source for wildlife. Old seed germinates better than new seed. Needs supplemental summer watering to keep from going dormant. Excellent meadow grass, perfect in native xeriscapes. Hardy to Zone 3. In stock now!
Blue Fescue (Festuca glauca, F. ovina, F. idahoensis)
Evergreen. This year we carry F. glauca ‘Boulder Blue’, a 10”-tall selection with very blue foliage, good form, hardiness, longevity and drought-tolerance. We also have F. glauca “Sea Urchin”, smaller, finer texture, good for rock gardens or Asian-style gardens, and F. glauca. Hardy to Zone 4. In stock soon!
Blue Oat (Avena) Grass
Helictotrichon sempervirens. Has some shade tolerance. Hardy to Zone 4. In stock soon!
Koeleria macrantha (June Grass)
Has compact seed heads. As its name suggests, June is when it is most beautiful. Good for prairie gardens. Hardy to Zone 3 to 4. In stock now!
Nasella (Stipa) tenuissima
Mexican Feather Grass. Has very fine-textured blades. Can sometimes be evergreen. This grass is not very long-lived. Most cool season grasses don’t self-sow much, but Nasella does, a lot. Hardy to Zone 5. In stock now!
We also carry two types of grass-like sedge that are also cool-season:
Carex caryophllea ‘Beatlemania’ (‘Beatlemania’ Variegated Vernal Sedge)
This petite sedge is rhizomatous and spreads. Its long glossy blades are slightly variegated yellow and green, and curve to the ground, giving it a mop-headed look. Makes an excellent groundcover or small ‘lawn’ (just to look at, not to step on) in shady gardens, especially Asian-styled gardens. Almost evergreen. Hardy to Zone 5. In stock now!
Carex appalachica (Appalachian Sedge)
A small fountain-like clumping sedge, 10”- 2’ tall, very fine-textured, bright light green and very attractive. Native to woods in Eastern N. America, it grows well in dry shade or part shade. It mixes well with perennials and serves as a neat groundcover or edger. Its tenacious roots will prevent erosion on shady slopes, and it can grow amongst tree roots. Blooms in spring, supporting beneficial insects. Hardy to Zone 4.
WARM SEASON GRASSES
Bouteloua gracilis (Blue Grama) and Bouteloua curtipendula (Side-Oats Grama)
are both native and very drought tolerant. There’s a selection of Blue Grama called ‘Blonde Ambition’ (Pictured left. Photo credit: Plant Select) that is taller and has pale tan ‘eyelashes’ rather than the common gray-brown. One can make a drought-tolerant lawn of Blue Grama with some effort (weeding for the first several years) which will be green in summer, brown in winter. Hardy to Zone 3. Blue Grama is our State grass! Side-Oats Grama is a smaller meadow grass. Seed heads and foliage turn a beautiful dark purple-red in fall. Hardy to Zone 3. In stock now!
Chasmanthium latifolium (Northern Sea Oats, River Oats)
A US native, though not native here, this grass grows well in part shade. the wide, bright green blades emerge from the stems at many heights, giving it a slightly bamboo-like look. The pendulous seed clusters in late summer are composed of very attractive flat, plaited spikelets, starting out pale green, later turning tan. Foliage stays green until fall, when it turns yellow. It will self-sow but is not difficult to control. Hardy to Zone 3.
Muhlenbergia reverchonii ‘Undaunted’ (‘Undaunted’ Ruby Muhly Grass)
A Plant Select winner that is hardy here, but not at higher elevations. It is native to Oklahoma and Texas and is said to grow where there’s water (one common name is ‘Seep Muhly’), yet some horticulturists here recommend growing it pretty dry. When well-grown, it makes a beautiful and graceful 2’ x 3’ mound of fine mid-green blades covered in late summer by a shimmering haze of tiny pink/red flowers, then reddish seeds. Hardy to Zone 5. (Photo credit: Plant Select.) In stock soon!
Eragrostis trichodes (Sand Love Grass)
This medium-sized grass, to 2-3’ x 2-3’, loves to grow in sandy soil as its name suggests, but adapts to many soils with low to moderate moisture. It self-sows, and is effective in masses. Reddish tones begin to show in late summer, and the haze of tiny purple-pink seeds in July/August are beautiful. Sand Love Grass tends to rot in the center as it gets older, and self-sows readily. Plant in full sun. Hardy to Zone 5. In stock now!
Andropogon (Schizachyrium) scoparium (Little Bluestem)
Native! Little Bluestem is very erect to 24”-30” with fine foliage and blooms in late summer-early fall. Blooms turn white and catch the late afternoon sun beautifully when back-lit. The foliage turns copper and looks good for a long time. Very drought-tolerant. The Plant Select version is called “Standing Ovation” and has deep red and purple fall color. Selections ‘The Blues’ and ‘Prairie Blues’ have very blue foliage during the growing season. ‘Blaze’ is a colorful selection of the common native in this region. Hardy to Zone 3. (Photo credit: Plant Select.) In stock now!
Sporobolis airoides (Alkali Sacaton)
is the ‘little brother’ of Giant Sacaton. The foliage mass is about 2’x2’, with the large, pinkish airy bloom/seed plumes rising to 40-48″ tall. For a ‘warm-season’ grass, Alkali Sacaton gets growing quite early in spring, so prune it back in February. A robust native, Alkali Sacaton flowers for many months, beginning in June. Deep rooted, this grass grows well in all soil types including sand, loam and clay as well as alkaline and salty soils, and prefers moderate to low moisture. On the prairie Sporobolus is used by animals for forage, cover and nesting. Its seeds are relished by birds. Hardy to Zone 4. In stock now!
Andropogon gerardii (Big Bluestem)
Native! Big Bluestem has a wider blade and is somewhat upright but also arching. It also has attractive reddish and purple fall colors. Big Bluestem is one of the dominant components of the Tallgrass Prairies across the Great Plains, where it can reach 8’ in height. Here it can range from 2 to 5’ tall, depending on water and nutrients available. We carry the wild species, and the selection called ‘Pawnee’, which has an upright habit and warm fall colors that persist into winter. This refined big bluestem has the bluish purple stems typical of the genus. In late summer, purplish red flowers appear in groups of three or six, which look like a turkey foot – hence the nickname: “Turkey Foot Grass”. The root system that can extend down more than 10 feet. Each year, a third of these roots die, opening up channels for water. This plant is drought tolerant once it’s established. Attracts birds and butterfly larvae. We also carry the Plant Select ‘Windwalker’ Big Bluestem (Pictured left. Photo credit: Plant Select), which has exceptionally blue foliage color, and is large and upright, with deep red and purple fall color. Plant in Full Sun. Hardy to Zone 4. In stock now!
Panicum virgatum (Switch Grass)
Native! Switchgrass was an important component of the Tallgrass Prairie. It tolerates a wide range of soils, including dry ones, but prefers moist soils that are not too rich in nitrogen, and grows best in full sun. Here it grows to about 3’ tall and wide, topped in midsummer by a finely-textured pinkish flower panicles that hover over the foliage like an airy cloud. Seed plumes turn beige and persist well into winter, providing an excellent seed source for birds. Fall foliage color is yellow. Salt-tolerant. “Heavy Metal” variety is more upright and has steely blue foliage. ‘Shenandoah’ is the most popular variety for red foliage accents, with red coloration appearing in summer and increasing in fall. Hardy to Zone 2. In stock now!
Sorghastrum nutans (Indian Grass)
Native! A tall & narrow grass that is an important part of the tall grass prairie. Here it grows in an upright clump to 6’tall x 3’wide. Indian Grass. Flowering stalks are topped by dense golden flame-shaped inflorescences which mature to brown, bearing numerous nutritious seeds that were used by Native Americans to produce flour. It can grow in a wide range of soils and tolerates drought, cold, salinity and heavy clay, but prefers rich, silty-loams in full sun. Indian grass attracts wildlife; bees come to the blossoms, songbirds eat the seeds, and it provides excellent cover for pheasants, quail, mourning doves and prairie chickens. We sell “Indian Steel” or “Sioux Blue”, both with bluish foliage, and Plant Select’s “Thin Man” (Pictured right. Photo credit: Plant Select), which has distinctly blue foliage and especially narrow habit. Hardy to Zone 4. In stock now!
Sporobolis heterolepis (Prairie Dropseed)
Native! A lovely small grass found here in the foothills and eastward across the Western prairies. Growing to 1-2’ tall and wide, it makes an elegant, fine-textured, emerald green fountain, suitable in many garden styles. The fine-textured plumes that rise above the foliage clump are attractive in bloom and in seed, and are favored by songbirds. The inflorescences are pleasantly fragrant – some say they smell like burnt buttered popcorn. Plains Indian tribes ground the seeds to make a tasty flour. Prairie Dropseed is also drought tolerant and turns a nice russet brown in fall. Hardy to Zone 4. In stock soon!
Sporobolis wrightii (Giant Sacaton, Wright’s Sacaton)
Comes up earlier in spring than most other warm season grasses. It also flowers earlier than most other warm-season grasses. This huge S.W. native grass grows to 6-10’ tall and 4-6’ wide, tolerates most soils and is very drought-tolerant. Huge airy flower/seed panicles are ornamental well into winter. Hardy to Zone 5. Cut back to 2-3” in late winter. (Photo credit: Plant Select.) In stock now!
FULL LIST OF ORNAMENTAL GRASSES IN STOCK:
Bothriochloa scoparium (Silver Beard Grass)
Achnatherum calamagrostis (Silver Spike Grass)
Schizachyrium scoparium (Little Bluestem)
Eragrostis trichodes (Sand Love Grass)
Nassella tenuissima (Ponytail/Mexican Feather Grass)
Bouteloua gracilis ‘Blonde Ambition’ (Blonde Ambition Grass)
Bouteloua curtipendula (Sideoats Grama Grass)
Sporobolus airoides (Alkali Sacaton)
Calamagrostis acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’ (Karl Foerster Feather Reed Grass)
Panicum virgatum (Switchgrass)
Erianthus ravennae (Plume Grass)
Sorghastrum nutans ‘Thin Man’ (Thin Man Indian Grass)
Sorghastrum nutans (Indian Grass)
Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Hameln’ (Dwarf Fountain Grass)
Sporobolus wrighti (Giant Sacaton)
Andropogon gerardi (Big Bluestem Grass)
Achnatherum robustum (Robust Needlegrass)
Koeleria macrantha (Prairie Junegrass)
ORNAMENTAL GRASSES ARRIVING SOON
Calamagrostis brachytrica (Korean Feather Reed Grass)
Festuca glauca ‘Boulder Blue’ (Boulder Blue Fescue)
Helictotrichon sempervirens (Blue Avina or Blue Oat Grass)
Miscanthus sin. ‘Gracillimus’ (Maiden Grass)
Muhlenbergia rev. (‘Undaunted’ Ruby Muhly)
Panicum virgatum ‘Shenandoah’ (Shenandoah Red Switchgrass)
Schizachyrium scoparium ‘Blaze’ (Blaze Little Bluestem)
Schizachyrium scop.’Prairie Blues’ (Prairie Blues Little Bluestem)
Sporobolus heterolepis (Prairie Dropseed)
PLANTING AND CARE FOR YOUR ORNAMENTAL GRASS
- Easy to grow, beautiful, versatile, and durable.
- Use for accents, massing, meadow, groundcover, to provide motion, grace, and great fall and winter interest.
- Many thrive on little water, many are natives.
- All are clump-forming, without invasive spreading roots.
- Plant throughout growing season with adequate water.
- Most grasses live longer & sturdier if grown in leaner conditions.
- Use light applications of organic fertilizer and/or compost or aged manure.
- We recommend: Richlawn Organic, Yum Yum or Alpha-One fertilizer, Compost, and Dairy Cow Manure.
Upcoming Classes List
Sun, Aug 5 at 1 PM – PRUNING FOR STRENGTH, HEALTH, AND BEAUTY with Mikl Brawner
Learn how to train young trees, restructure shrubs and trees damaged by storms, and to prune roses. Mikl has over 35 years of experience in pruning. (Repeated on Sep. 16.) $15
Sat, Aug 25 from 10 AM to 1 PM – SEVENTH ANNUAL TASTE OF TOMATO
Don’t miss our 8th annual ‘Taste of Tomato’ festival & tasting event along with Boulder County CSU Cooperative Extension! There are always exciting new varieties to taste and learn about. The location is not yet decided. Check our website for details and entry information.
Sat, Aug 25 at 1 PM – GARDENING WITH MUSHROOMS – THE MAGIC OF MYCELIUM w/ Zach Hedstrom
Join Zach for a class about the many ways you can incorporate mushrooms and fungi in your garden and lifestyle. You will learn the basic techniques for growing mushrooms, how to encourage fungal activity in your soil, and about the health-giving properties that you can experience from eating more mushrooms! $15
Sun, Aug 26 at 1 PM – LOW TECH GREENHOUSE DESIGN & OPERATION with Mikl Brawner
Mikl has been researching, building, and using simple greenhouses for 20 years. This class will focus on five designs on site at the nursery. $15
Sun, Sep 9 at 1 PM – HOW TO MULCH with Mikl Brawner
Weedbarrier, wood chips, straw, fine gravel, bark? Which mulches should be used and where? Why is mulching so important? What’s wrong with redwood and cedar? Mikl will discuss these questions and suggest solutions. $15 (Photo Credit: The Rock Place)
Sat, Sep 15 at 1 PM – FORAGING ROCKY MOUNTAIN MUSHROOMS: REGIONAL MUSHROOM ID with Zach Hedstrom
In this class, you will learn the basics of mushroom identification and what you should know before going out on a hunt. We will also introduce a variety of local mushrooms and their identification features. A good class for beginners as well as those who have done some foraging before. $15
Sun, Sep 16 at 1 PM – PRUNING FOR STRENGTH, HEALTH, AND BEAUTY with Mikl Brawner
Learn how to train young trees, restructure shrubs and trees damaged by storms, and to prune roses. Mikl has over 35 years of experience in pruning. (Repeat of Aug 5.) $15
Eve, Mikl and the super hard-working Staff at Harlequin’s Gardens