A favonian wind brings to life the perfect landscape thanks to the shifting shapes and sounds of ornamental grasses. These plants bring so much to the landscape, with a unique ability to capture light, as well as bring movement and texture to the garden year-round. They also add instant height to the garden, since many grasses are 6 feet tall. While these plants are important for their foliage, it’s their flowers that chase away the winter blues.

Calamagrostis acutiflora

Feather reed grass provides a great vertical accent in the garden.

Photo Credit: Felder Rushing

Miscanthus sinensis Zebrinus

The striped foliage of zebra grass creates a striking effect.

Photo Credit: Felder Rushing

Just as with lawn grasses, there are cool-season and warm-season ornamental grasses. Cool-season types, such as clumping blue fescue (Festuca glauca) are at their best in spring and fall and may go dormant during droughts. Typically, they require more frequent division than warm-season grasses, since their centers die out after a few years.

Most of the larger and more impressive grasses, such as Japanese silver grass (Miscanthus), pampas grass (Cortaderia) and switch grass (Panicum) are warm-season types. These tough grasses are drought-tolerant and look best when temperatures are high. They bloom in late summer and hold their flowers throughout winter.

The more desirable ornamental grasses, such as the ones mentioned above, form clumps. These mix well with other perennials, are not invasive and slowly increase in size. Many grasses grow upright to 6 – or even 10 – feet, and then arch outward. And they offer many different shapes: Blue fescue is tufted, with spiky, upright leaves. Weeping love grass (Eragrostis curvula) has weeping or mounded foliage. Switch grass (Panicum virgatum) has an upright form, where all foliage is vertical or columnar.

The sighs of swaying grasses in even the slightest breeze convey a sense of tranquility in any garden. And just a few of these remarkable plants can completely change the look and feel of a yard, so plant some soon, and then enjoy the year-round show.