|Blue Oat Grass|
|James Kohut, Staff Writer|
In the world of garden and landscape design, the sky really is the limit when it comes to the creative use of plants as ornamentals, especially in our northerly climates. Some of the least employed and most misunderstood garden gems are to be found in the ornamental grass category. When the uninformed think of grass, they think of lawns. And when they think of grass in the garden, they think of eradication long before they consider possibilities for beautification!
Yet, ornamental grasses provide some of the finest opportunities for designing with texture, form and enduring color in the entire plant world. And unlike their rugged and aggressive cousins the turf grasses, ornamental grasses will remain restrained and generally well-behaved in a garden setting. Once the initial fear has been overcome, the creative designer will find a new world of options at his or her disposal in this fine group of garden plants.
So how about a plant that excels at all three of the key landscape design attributes? Blue oat grass offers exciting steel-blue foliage throughout the season (it's actually an evergreen), in a graciously arching and mounded form, and with the finest texture of Rapunzel's hair. It's compact height makes it ideal for the front or middle of the border planting. It is best used in small groupings to accentuate the color and create a sea of fine texture and undulating form. Combine it with coarse-textured flowering annuals and perennials to set off their flowers when in bloom and to retain interest when the flowers are spent.
Blue oat grass is tough and durable, and is very easy to grow, as are most ornamental grasses. Have no fear of siting it in the garden - it won't spread beyond its bounds. Because it is evergreen, consider planting it in a location where it will get some snow cover in the coldest months of winter.