Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’

Legendary grass in the PNW. This striking form of Japanse forest grass has gold leaves striped in darker green. A clump forming perennial that arches gracefully. Lower growing than our other cultivar ‘All Gold’. Spreading to 3′ across in time this long lived deciduous beauty is indispensable in our climate. Rich, well drained soil with regular summer moisture. Full sun (but not reflected heat and with water) to part shade to quite a bit of high overhead shade. Woodland, walkways, borders, everywhere really where you need a touch of graceful elegance and a vivid color to brighten up dark days. Turns russet tones before losing its leaves in the fall.

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Millium effusum ‘Aureum’

Golden Millet grass we love for its bright and shining appearance in shady woodlands. The upright growing then strongly curled leaf blades appear very much like ribbons. In summer stems rise and then arch with little round seeds. The entire plant is the same shade of glowing chartreuse. To 2′ tall and forming slowly expanding clumps. Shade to part shade in rich, well drained soil with light summer irrigation. Avoid blasting hot sun- it will bleach horribly to an ugly appearance. The combination of the soft, ribbon-like foliage and the airy seed heads is a great texture to counter balance the bold appearance of Hosta or Bergenia ciliata. Completely winter deciduous. Seeds around- and seedling come true and are easy to spot and they move very well. Dies away to nothing by midwinter- seldom even have to cut it back.

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Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’

Of all the big, huge Miscanthus on the market this one appeals to us the most. Fine vertical then arching blades have edges lined in white. It gives the whole mature clump (to 5′) a soft, texture and overall appearance. In late summer into autumn mahogany red feathery flower clusters decorate the stems tips. The rise another 10 inches above the clump. Easy to grow in full sun to very light shade in any rich to average soil with adequate summer moisture. Clumps expand quickly and can easily approach  3′ wide. Cut back in winter- this grass has a bad habit in winter dormancy of detaching in wind and blowing about. But you can also leave it skeleton for winter interest and cut it back in spring. Regular summer water improves appearance and leads to blooms. Fully hardy. Winter deciduous. Japan.

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Molinia caerulea ‘Variegata’

A purely awesome form of Moor grass that we find indispensable at Xera. A strongly clump forming grass that has comparatively wide leaf blades margined heavily in cream. The effect up close is alternative deep green and yellow/cream vertical stripes. Very handsome. In summer 2′ spike rise. The stems are the exact color of yellow/cream that appears on the leaves, it gives great continuity to the whole plant. At the tips of these bright vertical stems are deep tan inflorescences. Exciting. Forms a clump to 18″ wide fairly quickly. Responds best to enriched soil that is fertile, drains well and light, consistent summer water which will lead to a much less thirsty plant in the long run. Roots go down very very far, and an established clump is somewhat difficult to lift and divide. But it can go many, many years before this is needed. Completely winter deciduous- cut back the vertical stems any time it is dormant. A fine texture for great contrast in borders or massed. Long lived and very hardy grass.

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Muhlenbergia lindheimeri

Most grasses in this genus native to North America really do prefer a hotter, longer summer than we have. But this one has surprised us and we are in love with it. Strongly clump forming evergreen grass with thin blue/green blades that rise to about 1′ tall. In late summer spikes erupt and as they unfurl they reveal a long feather like inflorescence that is up to 2′ long. The sun shining through this taupe/white group of flowers is purely luminescent. To 4′ tall and 4′ wide for full sun and average, well drained soil full sun. Excels on slopes- especially hot slopes. It requires just light summer irrigation but established clumps get by with none and still perform. Wonderful grass to plant among such things as Arctostaphylos and Grevilleas. Cut back to the foliage in spring. Really good looking dryland grass from the Texas Big Bend country.

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Muhlenbergia rigens

Deer grass is native to large areas of the west coast from west central Oregon south through California. Its a tough and wild looking grass that peaks in autumn with a crescendo of dramatic flowers. Dense and fountain forming evergreen grass. Foliage to 2′ x 3′ very quickly. In autumn spikes of light tan thin but feather columns emerge and point out in every direction. The rise to about 5′ tall and remain as stiff skeletons well into winter. Full sun to very light shade in any soil that drains. Excels on slopes and raised beds. Wonderful lining a path or mass planted. Water to establish the first season then none in subsequent years. Its fully adapted to our dust dry summers. Very wild looking grass which can be tamed somewhat by planting in rows or symmetrical pattern. Otherwise it fits in perfectly between drought tolerant native shrubs like Manzanita and Ceanothus. Oregon native plant.

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Nasella cernua

Nodding needlegrass is a clump forming species native to western California south to northern Baja CA. Fine, fine medium green foliage appears in spring and is bright and fresh. In late spring stems rise to display the metallic tan, long needle like awns. They gracefully bend in every direction and are magical when tussled by the wind. They wave and sway gracefully and the light catches glints off the flowers. Very wild looking west coast grass that is at home in any well drained soil in full sun. Adaptable to light summer water and this improves the appearance and amount of blooms. To 2′ tall in bloom the basal clumps spread to about 1′ wide. Winter deciduous. Cut back hard in early spring before new growth starts. Completely adapted to summer drought once established and is a graceful and integral part of dry plantings. Seeds around a bit- expect this. Full sun.

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Panicum virgatum ‘Heavy Metal’

Native of the high grass prairies of the midwest this form of Switch Grass delights with soft blue foliage and foamy inflorescences and a staunchly upright habit. Blooms appear in early August and remain effective through winter. In autumn the whole plant is awash in tones of raspberry and red before going cere for winter. Surprisingly even in dry dormancy snow or ice and knock this grass over and when the thaw comes- pouf! It stands straight back up. Winter deciduous- but the clump does remain in place for the majority of winter. Cut back hard- to the ground in spring just before new growth appears. Full sun and rich, to average, well drained soil with consistent light summer water. Drought adapted when established- to an extent. Looks better with water. To 5′ tall and in bloom and forming an expanding clump to 2′ wide. Ultra hardy grass that can be planted en mass or alone as a vertical blue focal point.

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Pennisetum spatheolatum

Veldt grass from South Africa has easily turned into one of our favorite ornamental grasses. Spreads to form bright green evergreen foliage that rises to 20″ tall and spreads several feet wide. From late spring to early autumn a continuous supply of 3′ – 4′ stems that have a catkin like inflorescence at the tip. It begins white and slowly turns to to tan. They wave gracefully in the wind and point in every direction from the clump. Immensely graceful grass that has an incredibly long season of interest. Rich, well drained soil with little summer water once established. Remains good looking through winter. Cold hardy and easy for full sun. Creates and excellent instant meadow effect. Evergreen. Moderate deer resistance.

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Schizachyrium scoparium ‘The Blues’

A fantastic grass that performs wonderfully well in our climate. A clumping grass with very upright blue foliage. In summer inflorescences rise above the leaves with fine fluffy whitish flowers- provides a dramatic hazy effect. In autumn the 28″ tall grass becomes a whole other color palette. Deep raspberry and purple with tints of red before going over to all all reddish orange. An excellent color trip not the way to dormancy. When dormant it remains a presence and looks nice through winter. Cut down to the ground in late winter/early spring to make way for fresh new foliage. Not evergreen. Average to enriched well drained soil with light summer water. Established plants in reasonably good soil will sale through summer drought with no ill effects. Clumps expand over time to 2′ wide. Full sun. Easy grass. May self sow in open disturbed soil.

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