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Gorgeous Grasses for Pacific Northwest Gardens

Yes, summer is still in high gear in the Pacific Northwest. However, it does feel as if we’re seeing the back side of the hot weather’s last hurrah. As I write this, cloud cover has returned and that blazing orb we've become sooooo familiar with has retreated—for the time being. As the angle of light settles lower, a sense of the changing seasons is setting in. Routines are on track to shift as schools ease back into session and thoughts of fall garden projects percolate into our consciousness.

Thankfully, if previous years can be a guide, we’ve got many days in store of pleasant temps and ample opportunity to continue enjoying the garden enchantments of the season. So as we steer a course for fall, I’d like to take a moment to revel in some ornamental grasses—fantastic contributors that will continue to decorate the upcoming autumnal scenes—that are taking center stage in gardens now.

Here in the Pacific Northwest, I've found that ornamental grasses are a wonderful way to extend the season. There are many selections that offer a low-maintenance, easy-care means of bringing life, beauty, and movement into the late summer garden. 

Some grasses are especially wonderful for introducing a dynamic quality to the garden. They flow and move, catching the light and the breeze. For example, Nassela tenuissima Miscanthus sinensis 'Adagio', and variegated purple moor grass are particularly showy in late summer and into fall. But all pale in comparison when held up against the pièce de résistance featured in the video above: Stipa gigantea, giant feather grass.


Inspiring Images of Ornamental Grasses in Gorgeous Gardens



My Top Picks: Ornamental Grasses for the Pacific Northwest


It was really hard to pick just a few, but these are some of my current favorites. If you follow the individual links, you can learn more about them and get ideas for planting combinations that incorporate them. To browse all the ornamental grasses on the eGardenGo site, follow this link.


Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Avalanche'

Avalanche Feather Reed Grass

Type: Grass / Grass-Like
Exposure: Full Sun, Full Sun, Part Sun, Afternoon Sun
Zone: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

view plant

Deschampsia cespitosa 'Northern Lights'

Northern Lights Tufted Hair Grass

Type: Grass / Grass-Like, Perennial
Exposure: Full Sun, Full Sun, Part Sun
Zone: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

view plant

Miscanthus sinensis 'Adagio'

Dwarf Maiden Grass

Type: Grass / Grass-Like
Exposure: Full Sun, Full Sun, Afternoon Sun
Zone: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

view plant

Miscanthus sinensis 'Morning Light'

Japanese Silver Grass

Type: Grass / Grass-Like
Exposure: Full Sun, Full Sun, Afternoon Sun
Zone: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

view plant

Molinia caerulea ssp. caerulea 'Moorflamme'

Purple Moor Grass

Type: Grass / Grass-Like, Perennial
Exposure: Full Sun, Full Sun, Afternoon Sun
Zone: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

view plant

Molinia caerulea ssp. caerulea 'Variegata'

Variegated Purple Moor Grass

Type: Grass / Grass-Like, Perennial
Exposure: Afternoon Sun, Full Sun, Part Sun
Zone: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

view plant

Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Burgundy Bunny'

Burgundy Bunny Fountain Grass

Type: Grass / Grass-Like, Groundcover
Exposure: Full Sun, Full Sun, Part Sun, Afternoon Sun, Reflected Heat
Zone: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

view plant

Stipa gigantea

Giant Feather Grass

Type: Grass / Grass-Like
Exposure: Full Sun, Full Sun, Afternoon Sun, Reflected Heat
Zone: 7, 8, 9, 10

view plant

Plant Combinations that Feature Gorgeous Grasses


These drought-tolerant plant combinations really shine in late summer. They incorporate ornamental grasses and companion plants. Follow the links below to learn more about the individual plants included in each of the featured plant combinations. To explore even more combos that include fall grasses, follow this link.




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Grasses I've Got My Eye On


I've added a few grasses to my "watch list" over the last several weeks. I'm always on the lookout for plants that I'm not growing and/or don't feel adequately knowledgeable about. I spotted these visiting gardens, garden centers, and most recently the Farwest Show.

Published August 21, 2021


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