Ornamental grass

Burnett: Ornamental grasses have come a long way

Today’s landscapers use the wonderful selection of ornamental grasses in great numbers

If someone were to mention ornamental grasses to me in the 1970’s I would have stared back at them like a deer in the headlights.

Grass back then was either meant to be mowed as in lawn, grown for livestock feed or dug out and discarded as in couch grass. That all changed as we moved into the 1980’s and today’s landscapers use the wonderful selection of ornamental grasses in great numbers. Grasses are easy to maintain, for the most part quite drought tolerant and for Okanagan gardeners there is another benefit; they are deer proof.

Grasses aren’t for everyone though. I recall a few years ago showing a recent immigrant to the Okanagan some Karl Foerster Feather Reed grass and explaining how this ornamental grass was the first to win the prestigious Perennial of the Year Award in 2001. Coming from Manitoba she immediately said how this plant looked a little like wheat to which I agreed.

Her response was ‘why would anyone plant wheat in the garden?’ Obviously not a fan however, she is very much in the minority and the popularity of ornamental grass is increasing every day. Karl Foerster is probably the most recognized of all the ornamental grasses most likely because of the sheer numbers seen in landscapes. However the choices we have now encourage us to become familiar with several other species. There are several in the Miscanthus genus including the giant Maiden Grass which are later to green up in the spring but really come into their best in the fall. One of my favourite groups is the Japanese Forest grasses and another is the Moore Grass selection. When carefully chosen and properly placed ornamental grasses can offer form and texture no other plant can.

Coming up this Saturday are two popular plant sales where you can pick up some of these beautiful grasses The Kelowna Garden Club will hold their annual event at the Heritage Gardens at Guisachan 1060 Cameron Street from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Perennials, annuals, grasses, drought tolerant plants, vegetables, herbs, gardening tools, pots and much, much more will be available so get there early for the best choices.

Also, this Saturday at the Un-H2O Gardens adjacent to the H2O Complex on Gordon Drive, the Okanagan Xeriscape Society is holding their popular plant sale. Most of the plants sold here are from divisions taken from the Un-H2O gardens so you can be assured of top quality. This sale also goes from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

A tip for those of you who are worried about your Hybrid Tea roses surviving this past cold winter. Don’t be hasty in throwing in the trowel on these because sometimes it takes some warm weather to get them going. I know my one and only HT “Just Joey” has only now begun to throw some shoots from the base indicating its survival. Most other types of roses such as miniatures, floribundas, shrub and landscape should be OK although some climbers may be frozen down somewhat.

Listen to Don Burnett and Ken Salvail every Saturday Morning from 8am to 10am presenting the Garden Show on AM 1150 now in its 34th year.

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