Sunday, September 30

A Smooth Backdrop

Some bloggers are very deliberate about the way they choose their subjects, word their text, integrate their photos, and ultimately create each of their posts. I admire the heck out of that, but my own blog is a lot more like my garden--a loosely knit collection of ideas, heavily subject to my whims, with some structure thrown in occasionally for good measure.

In hindsight, I should have taken some "before the fence" pictures for posterity's sake. I have spent so much time aiming around those views, however, that it simply never occurred to me that I might want some now. This picture from June, never posted exactly because I failed to crop out the background, is the best I can do.

In addition to what you see here, my view occasionally included a random assortment of children and neighbors, 2 huge full size trucks, and up to 5 dogs--one of which is always off leash in spite of city regulations, and enjoyed doing his business in my rock garden. (Even though his owners diligently cleaned up after him and he's a sweetheart of a dog, that last fact annoyed me a bit!)

Fast-forward to my current view. The fence effectively removed the clutter beyond my lot line. It provides a much smoother, less distracting backdrop for the garden, and once it's stained in a couple of weeks it will provide some extra color as well.

As far as the color goes, I agree with Craig that gray is underused in gardens, and I've long planned to use a warm gray on the fence. Given my predisposition for contrasts and bright color, this might surprise you a bit... but warm gray will coordinate the fence with the foundation stones and peachy-rust brickwork on the house. Consider also that I'm a practical girl who has learned many things from a 3-year HGTV addiction. Among them, that keeping your big ticket items (couches, carpeting, stockade fencing) a neutral color and using bright pops of color in accessories that you can change out (pillows, vases, annuals, cheap trellising) is a lot easier on your wallet.

And I already have some plans for accessorizing. My wishlist includes a peach tree to espalier, and I am currently drooling over the lovely 'Miss Bateman' clematis thanks to Shirl in the UK. And then, of course, there are the edible peas and fragrant sweetpeas--and the faint hope that I might finally be successful with various squashes if I grow them vertically.

Much of the new fenceline is already spoken for by plants that have been patiently awaiting a planting spot in the yard, however. The espaliered apple wants to be shown off against its flat background, and the 'Himrod White' grapevine was waiting for the fence to be installed so that the exact site of its new arbor could be determined. And the native honeysuckle that I have so admired in Annie's garden really wants to light up this corner of mine.

The more I look at this new fence, the more excited I get! It has all of the feel and promise of a fresh new sketchpad or a blank notebook--and I really have the urge to scribble all over it with plants, so to speak. I may leave some areas blank entirely, however... both in an effort to retain some of that feeling of having the luxury of open space to fill, and to prove that behind that plant material, there is now in fact a smooth backdrop.

Thursday, September 27

Urban Excavating

In the past 3 years, I have turned up quite a few rocks while planting shrubs and perennials. Most of the stones in the backyard are fist-sized, flattish, and fairly smooth. Here you see a collection of the ones that I turned up last night as I began to excavate what will soon be my grotto garden. The 4x4 grape arbor post and the quart-sized fern pot give you an idea of their actual size.

They look fairly innocuous, but don't let that fool you. Even a half-dollar-sized rock in the wrong place can bring a manual posthole digger to a screeching halt. (They are, however, ultimately no match for my garden trowel, a few choice words, and Brian's stubbornness.)

In addition to the numerous rocks discovered along the way, Brian found a few extra special surprises as he dug all of the postholes for the new fence. Discovering this brick was particularly vexing, as we didn't know whether it was part of an old drainage system... or, worse, a mortared cobblestone driveway buried 6 inches beneath the new cement one. Lucky for us, it proved to be a single specimen and only took an extra 20 minutes to remove.

The pottery shard next to it is marked like a fine ceramic plate, and is one of many such pieces of glasses and dinnerware that have been discovered here. I lost track of the glass chunks somewhere around 6 dozen, and I only keep the pieces that are pretty colors--like the light blue opaque glass in a photo below. When I find a new one, though, I amuse myself by making up stories in my head about the clumsy residents who preceded me and how this particular shard came to be.

Among my "fun finds" have been the front bumper of an old toy car, the torso of a 6o's action figure, and a 4-color pen of the type I coveted in junior high. (You could write in red, blue, black or--most importantly--in green. That was almost as cool as writing in purple.) I have also discovered overwhelming evidence, collected over the course of at least two years, that an old coal pile was once sited about 6ft off the northwest corner of my garage. That would have been a long, cold walk from the house in the days before PolarFleece!

And I have no idea how this huge chunk of marble, carved with two straight channels, could possibly have come to rest almost 8 inches underground in my backyard. You can see how large it is by comparing it to the size of the toy car bumper shown above.

I really wish I knew its story. These row houses were originally built for blue-collar company workers, not for people who had need of--or means for--marble facades. Mine is no bigger or smaller than others on the street, and can see no reason why it might be singled out for pricey upgrades.

But I saved the best for last. By far my favorite find is of far more modest origins: An old pry bar!
I discovered the straight end of it as I was planting a cherry tree last spring... and didn't realize what I had found until I dug it out enough to unearth the crooked end.

In a fitting twist of fate, this pry bar came in very handy as Brian coaxed the old brick out of the last posthole this weekend. The brick was a little too big for my trowel to handle, but the pry bar made short work of it--and helped us to ensure that there were no other surprises waiting beside or below it!

But I bet you don't have to be an urban gardener to make interesting finds "below grade" in your little domain. Anyone else have good stories of exciting, scary, or otherwise interesting finds they've made while digging in the dirt? I'll be back to read them... as soon as I dig a few more holes. I'm aiming to figure out just exactly where the clumsy spinster buried all of her grandma's money... ;)

Sunday, September 23

New Fence!

I really want to make this a post. You know, thoughtful words about the results of fencing in your gardens. Maybe some griping about how if you hate the very idea of using treated lumber and/or chain link in your yard--and cannot afford anything cool and sustainable like bamboo stockade (do they make that?)--your choices for fencing are very limited.

But frankly, I am "one whupped puppy," as the saying goes. Brian dug all 16 of the holes by hand with the help of Dad's old post hole digger. Mom and I mixed most of the cement in the wheelbarrow that I trashpicked from a guy down the street this spring, and I shoveled it into most of the holes while Dad made sure the posts were level and in line.

Dad and I handled the first 8 or 9 panels, with Mom making sure we were level, and then Brian took over my job when he finished digging the holes. (He encountered many rocks, and even a surprise brick embedded about 6 inches underground, so that was quite a task.)

These pictures were taken while there was still some light on the back half of the longest fence side, but before we finished up. After the picture, the posts were all topped off at the same height and we worked on cleaning up our mess.

I will probably stain my side of the fence eventually, but it all should sit and "cure" for a while before that happens. That's a good thing, as I doubt that my back could take much more work! But tomorrow, we have one more project to complete: We need to build a gate out of fence panels (because I'm a pain in the butt and want it all to match, dammit) and hang it.

Sounds like fun, no? Well, it could be worse... without my Dad, and his general expertise, and all of his fun toys (who knew that they made cordless circular saws?) we would probably still be trying to figure out where the fence posts should actually go, and what to do first. It always helps to have a good foreman--somehow, I was lucky enough to be born to one!

Saturday, September 22

Upon Further Review...

... I misidentified this particular gladiolus in the title of my last post. It was most definitely an error, not a bloop single. I've seen cheap Hawaiian leis sold in bundles of 100 with more natural-looking color schemes.

On the bright side, I don't have to change my batting average. 1 homerun, 1 error and 1 whiff still = 1/3, or .333. The calls resulting in the title of my post actually would have earned me an unheard-of .667 batting average instead... so my calculations didn't jive from the beginning. (I really do know my baseball, but math has never been my strong suit.)

Wednesday, September 19

A Homerun, A Bloop Single, and A Total Whiff

It's September, and my favorite American League team is determined to lose themselves right out of the playoffs. My favorite National League team has had a less than stellar year with a few strange highlights. Air Force parachuters recently dropped onto the field with a ball that had been given to them on Opening Day and carried halfway around the world. Upon landing, they presented the well-traveled ball to the club's manager... the same guy who broke the record this season for most career ejections. (The latter really surprised me, because his ejections aren't generally as colorful as some so I never realized he'd gotten the boot that much.)

So as the pennant race heats up and the gardening season cools down, baseball analogies are on my mind. As I was doing some plant cleanup this evening and thinking about how much I miss hearing the legendary Ernie Harwell on the radio, a bright ember in the back garden caught my eye. Turning my head, I discovered the first lovely 'Espresso' gladiolus bloom.

Aptly named, this beauty is a very rich color... by the time I ran inside and grabbed the camera, the sun had moved on to light up the nearby lantana instead and 'Espresso' had lost its glow. But the color is still very eye-catching, even set against the ugly, patchy grass whose days are numbered. It's a definite homerun, and even though I've had glads overwinter in the ground before I'm not going to take that chance with 'Espresso.' These babies will be dug up and stored in the basement until next spring.

In contrast, the promised "deep orange" of another pack of glads failed to impress. Deep orange? More like orange sherbet or a disgusting creamsicle with a yellow center. Ick, ick, ick.

But I don't quite hate it enough to pull it out... unlike a different glad whose blooming tenure here was extremely short-lived. Purportedly flowering in a lime green color, it shot up to a height neither of these two managed to reach and then promptly flopped over. "That isn't terrible," I told myself. "At least the flowers will stand out against the 'Voodoo' red sedum below."

Well, stand out they did. These glads bloomed in the most godawful shade of yellow-green I have ever seen in my life! Picture that greyish yellow-green of a boiled egg yolk, and then up the wattage to flourescent and you've got the color. I'm adventurous, but this was well beyond the line into unquestionably questionable. I couldn't even bring myself to take a picture before I ripped those out.

So I'm 1-for-3 in terms of glads in the garden this year... *sigh* I think I'll just cheer myself up by reminding myself that some baseball players get bonus money for hitting my .333 average!

Monday, September 17

My First Apple

I have never had a child, and yet I suddenly feel as though I have had a taste of the wonder of creation. The feeling of having brought about something amazing, something that you can rightfully brag about... while at the same time knowing that, really, it happened in spite of rather than because of you. You have no idea how it really happened, you just sowed the seed and gave it the right conditions in which to grow.

Behold my very first apple harvest. This huge beauty fell off into my hand while I was inspecting it this evening. I can't even bring myself to take a bite out of it yet, but that's okay. It's pretty enough to admire for a while, and after several hours of gardenwork my hands need a good scrubbing before they touch anything on its way into my mouth.

Besides, it will be easier to take a bite when I'm not grinning from ear to ear.

NIMG: Not In My Garden!

Even as I posted a picture of the baby-pink sedum flowers that so distressed me earlier this week, I knew that--as Rosemarie pointed out--I was opening a can of worms. When pink does appear in my garden in the form of a double Japanese anemone or an apricot-hued heuchera, it's always tamed with an acid green, deep plum, bronze-y brown, etc. I never purposely site it next to something like a baby purple--I'm just not a pastel kind of girl, that's all.

Plenty of other gardeners love pinks and pastels, though, and I've seen some pretty combinations of those shades in other garden posts. That started a thought tangent... I wondered what plants, accessories and designs other gardeners enjoy but were purposely keeping out of their own gardens, and why. And thus the NIMG challenge was born.

A few people have already gamely posted their lists, and you can find links to those in the comments on the original post. (Craig went above and beyond, including a well-Photoshopped fantasy image on his!) I did mean this challenge in the strict interpretation that Elizabeth used in crafting her list, but I am glad to see that even when a much looser interpretation was used, things are staying relatively positive. If you decide to make a NIMG post yourself, feel free to leave a link in the comments so that others can find it.

Without further ado, here are some things that I can appreciate in other people's yards... but Not In My Garden:

1) Elaborate annual bedding schemes, like the one seen in this picture taken by Jeffrey Beall.* While I love the riot of color, this has a formality and precision that I could probably not achieve even if I wanted to... I don't manicure my nails, and I don't manicure my garden, either.

Frankly, I prefer a whole lot of wildness in my garden. Maybe it's just in my nature, or maybe it's a reaction to all of the squared-off, plotted-out city that surrounds me here, I don't know. I have yet to figure that out. I just know that any formal designs or precise schemes are generally NIMG.

That said, I am, however, toying with the idea of using some formal elements to contrast with and highlight the wildness. Possibly a square lawn space (albeit with blue grama grass instead of the fussier fescues usually planted around here) and/or gently shaped evergreen shrubs. More on that in a later post.

2) Japanese garden style. I love it. I have books on it, including the classic Sakuteiki--and I have a lot of plants with handsome habits and interesting foliage like those often found in Japanese gardens. Like those you see in this photo of a true Japanese garden by Manicosity.*

But I have long since faced this fact: There is no way I can ever be as restrained as I would need to be to have a proper Japanese garden. Not In My Garden. My garden makes me feel exhuberant and yes, maybe even sexy, but definitely not quiet and tranquil. (And, heck, I can't even make a blog post less than three screens long... so my lack of brevity shouldn't really come as a surprise to anybody.)

3) White gardens are so elegant, and refreshing in a calm, cooling kind of way. (Just look at this picture of white petunias and alyssum posted by Nic's events* and tell me it doesn't drop your pulse rate a bit.) Silvers combine well with them, and any monochromatic scheme allows you to play with texture--one of my favorite things to use in the garden.

I do have a few stray white flowers in my gardening, including a heavenly scented nicotiana sylvestris, but I will never have a true moon garden or all-white border. Why? Well, I absolutely despise the dirty-tissue look of past-their-prime white blossoms, and I refuse to be a slave to daily deadheading. The white flowers I do have are about all that I can handle in the maintenance department, so all-white borders fall squarely under the category of NIMG.

4) Well Planned Veggie Gardens. I dream of someday having a veggie garden with the beautiful, squared plots and straight paths seen at dreams and bones, and Skippy's Vegetable Garden, and uniform row cover hoops like those that Steven sometimes shows. (And of course, I would be thrilled to have their levels of vegetable production!)

When asked why I do not yet have one of these in my own garden I generally blame it on a small yard requiring me to mingle edibles with ornamentals. But that's not entirely true. Some of the blame goes back to the formality issue I mentioned in #1 above, but my lack of garden planning skills is another cause.

Check out this garden picture from domino nz's Flickr pages: Precise rows, planned by height, some successive planting thrown into the mix... all seem to be well outside of the realm of possibility for a plant-by-the-seat-of-her-pants girl like me. Not to mention that I don't do "row planting" very well anyway.

5) Daylilies. Lots of gardeners whose gardens and blogs I admire (Gotta Garden and Karen among them) go crazy for daylilies. They look lovely en masse in this picture by jacklail*, and one of my favorite sights in late summer is of the "ditch lilies," aka wild tiger lilies, blooming on the roadsides once you escape the confines of the city.

I even grew a few daylilies at my old house, in a bed with a 'Miss Kim' lilac, sedum and tall phlox. I couldn't tell you which ones I grew--frankly, most of the hundreds of ruffled, peachy colored ones with the reddish purple ring around the inside center look the same to me--but I can tell you why I decided not to even start with them here: their foliage leaves me cold.

I think I look at it daylilies as a grassy kind of plant in terms of design, and even though pennisetums and other ornamental grasses do not offer huge multicolored blooms I find them much more attractive out of flower than daylilies are. At the old house, I was always pulling browned leaves out of the daylily clumps, and several of the plants had daylily rust as well. And then there were the mushy remains of each flower at the end of the day.... ugh. So when I moved three years ago, I left the daylilies behind for good. I enjoy seeing the blooms in other people's garden pictures, but NIMG.

That covers the main things that I appreciate in other people's gardens, and I hope explains why I won't be using those designs or growing those plants in my own. As for the things that I don't like AND won't grow in my garden because of it... well, that's another post entirely! :)

*All pictures come from Flickr and have been designated as available for use under specific terms by those Flickr users who uploaded them. Please see this Flickr page for details.

Saturday, September 15

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - September 2007

September always seems like a better month in my garden than August, one unfortunate planting combination notwithstanding. My grasses start to show off their inflorescences, cutback perennials begin to rebloom, and even annuals seem to get a second wind.

Some plants, like the flamboyant canna 'Wyoming' and tiny, gemlike silene maritima 'Compacta' shown here, continue about their business of blooming without a break. Fall bloomers are just beginning their part of the garden show. Interesting seedheads, from the inky black pods of baptisia australis to the golden hips on my 'Dortmund' rose, are making their presence known as well.

By far my favorite part of the yard right now is the area surrounding the Japanese rock garden. Near the property line, next year's fruit-bearing branches arch out from the base of the newly pruned thornless blackberry. Once the fence goes in, they will have some support for their canes.

In the front, a tapestry of 'Bertram Anderson' sedum, 'Newe Ya'ar' salvia officinalis, allium senescens var. glaucum, 'Voodoo' sedum spurium and 'Caradonna' salvia keep catching my eye. I love the dark stems and tidy leaves on 'Caradonna' so much that once I determined she is as long a bloomer as 'May Night,' I gave away the latter to another gardener to make room for more 'Caradonna'! That these plants grow in poor soil with little mulch and no extra watering makes me even happier with them.

In a small strip between the rock garden and the sidewalk the extends the length of the garage, blue-green clumps of chives and garlic chives sprout from a bed of the greyish-red 'Voodoo' sedum. Their coloring bridges the color shift between the front and back plantings of the Japanese rock garden very well.

In the back, 'Purple Emporer' sedum, 'Frosted Curls' sedge, the blue-flowered plumbago ceratostigma plumbaginoides, bergenia, and various oreganos (including a cream-edged variety that I just planted) surround the dark 'Diablo' ninebark and dwarf sweet cherry.

Behind these, a red-stained arbor is being built for the 'Concord' grape started from cuttings my grandmother gave me. The chartreuse 'Sum and Substance' hosta, 'Hewitt's Double' meadow rue, various ferns, and even a zauschneria garrettii 'Orange Carpet' (on the dry, sunny edge) are planted beneath the arbor space. The smokey-colored atriplex hortensis var. rubra self-seeds itself in this area as well, which will provide some good dynamic change in this bed throughout the years.

Also in bloom and/or bud, in addition to the plants detailed above, are the following:


tricyrtis 'Lightning Strike'
tricyrtis 'Samurai'
ajuga reptens 'Silver Queen'
cimicifuga 'Hillside Black Beauty' (bud)

hosta 'Dawn'
ligularia dentata 'Othello'
sorghastrum nutens 'Sioux Blue'
hakonechloa macra 'Aureola'
echinacea 'Merlot'
'Ozark' alpine strawberries

'Black Watchman' hollyhock
artemisia 'Powis Castle'
sedum cauticola '
sedum 'Vera Jameson'
sedum sieboldii
salvia lyrata 'Purple Knockout'
echinacea 'White Swan'
achillea 'Paprika'
bronze fennel

zauschneria latifolia v. etteri
golden oregano
Japanese anemone 'Party Dress'
Japanese anemone 'Robustissima'

lamium 'Purple Dragon'
nepeta 'Walker's Low'

unnamed toad lily
perovskia atriplicifola
'Matrona' sedum
variegated liriope
asclepias tuberosa


begonia 'Cocktail Whiskey'
nicotiana sylvestris

red snapdragons
upright fuchsia 'Koralle'
portulaca 'Margarita Banana'
portulaca 'Yubi red'
orange cosmos
'Ichiban' eggplant
various pepper plants
various coleus in need of deadheading
'Sonic Cherry' new guinea impatiens
my gorgeous yellow lantana
'Hopi Red Dye' amaranth
gladiolus 'Lime Green'
2 other glads with missing tags
cinnamon basil*
pineapple sage
verbena bonariensis

*Anyone else growing cinnamon basil have a tough time keeping this one from flowering? I've been impressed with its tenacity!

Tuesday, September 11

NIMG Challenge: Not In My Garden

Yesterday's frustrated post and the resulting comments got me thinking. There are quite a few garden things that I enjoy seeing, or can at least appreciate, but simply do not want to have in my own garden. Over time, I have come to think of these things and "Nice, but NIMG." Not In My Garden.

I can't be the only one who appreciates some specific garden features, plants, designs, etc. that they wouldn't dream of putting into their own little spot of land. So who's up for a fun little challenge around the theme of NIMG?

Here are the "rules": Think about 5 (or 10, or 3, or however many come to mind) things that you really like but would never put into your own yard. Make a post that explains each thing and also tells why, much as you like each one, it will never appear in your garden.

For example, maybe I absolutely love the little half whiskey barrels used as a water feature, complete with floating plants and goldfish... but since I also have a 60 lb. golden retriever who looks at any standing water as something to be splashed in, it will remain under the category of NIMG so long as that garden assistant prowls my grounds. Or maybe I adore the look of a clipped boxwood hedge but I am notoriously clumsy with a pair of clippers so I don't even allow myself to dream about adding one at my house. You get the idea.

It should be fun to discover how we each make decisions about how to incorporate some things that we love and why we refrain from including others. I'm coming up with my own list... and will be back to post it later in the week. (Carol, O Spritely Queen of Garden Memes, if I have missed anything in posting this one please let me know.) If anyone else decides to play along, please post in the comments here to let us know where to find your NIMG list!

Monday, September 10

Whose Bright Idea Was This?

I guess it was bound to happen: My foliage tunnel vision finally came back and bit me, so to speak. I tend to forget about the baby-pink flowering phase of sedum 'Matrona' because I love it all the rest of the year... but why, oh why didn't I think about it when I planted it next to this soft purple Russian sage? The combination is so sweet, is it not? Ugh!

In an attempt at purging that appallingly cutesy sight from my brain, I'm also posting this picture of my reblooming lantana. The blue "berries" are pretty, but keeping up with deadheading them means I get to enjoy more of these bright yellow flower clusters. And they handle being planted in my dry chimney pot quite well, so they are definite front-runners to inhabit this space next year again. Just please remind me not to move one of those disgustingly adorable 'Matrona' sedums over here beside the lantana. Or maybe I need to go with one of the orangier varieties next year, just to be safe.

I swear my garden doesn't "do cute"... I'll just have to remember to tell 'Matrona' that. (If not for her lusciously moody foliage, she'd be evicted for this already.)


Sunday, September 9

Ornamental Grasses

It is very appropriate that Layanee and Shirl chose this time of the year to ask people to showcase their ornamental grasses... it's the time of the year when most of them start to come into their glory in our gardens, with fall colors and showy inflorescences. They also offer great fall and winter movement--check out this post of ornamental grass videos by Craig at Ellis Hollow to get a taste of that virtue.

When I headed outside just now to take pictures, I found that I have more grasses than I realized. With no other good way to list them, I'm going to show them from smallest to largest.

The smallest by far is a carex that I couldn't resist because it's so darn cute! These fuzzy leaves of lady's mantle show you how tiny carex conica 'Hime Kansugi' really is. You have to look over the lady's mantle and between two tall clumps of oriental lilies in order to see this grass, but it's a sweet reward:

Last year, I picked up a pot of black mondo grass that had two small plants showing. I divided them and put one in each of two containers, then planted them out in the garden in the fall. Here you see that one of the plants was happy enough to start to spread this year--I hope it continues to creep closer to the 'Jack Frost' brunnera:
Possibly my most unusual grass, carex platyphylla is a broad-leaf sedge native to the U.S. It is said to be drought-tolerant once established, but I found out the hard way that it doesn't like too much sun at all. You can see the crispy edges that remain from its early summer sunburn, but judging by the new growth it's happier now that it has been moved to a shadier spot. (Click the link above to see a less sun-damaged plant on the High Country Gardens site.)

Blue fescue that I started a few years ago from seed. I had trouble siting these until I decided to let them soften the base of a chimney tile that I set in the garden and planted with lantana. (That's not another grass, but foliage from gladiolus bulbs in the background.)
The bronze carex flagellifera has happily mingled with golden creeping jenny and other foliage plants in an urn all summer. I'm going to take it out and put it in the ground somewhere to see whether it will overwinter. It's one of those carex (carexes?) that are sometimes said to be hardy to zone 6, other times only to zone 7. You'll see two more such zone-stradlers later in this post.
Can I count liriope with the rest of my grasses? They certainly belong by all appearances, and I purchased two different variegated varieties on clearance last week, the golden l. muscari 'variegata' and the paler 'Silver Dragon':
Three clumps of the controversial carex comans 'Frosted Curls' (some say it should only be sold as c. album or c. alba, not c. comans) overwintered in my front garden this year. Three more were purchased as annuals this summer and planted under my purple ninebark in the hope that they are similarly hardy in spite of their "Zone 7" tag. Here is one of the original trio next to an 'Amber Waves' (I think?) heuchera:

I have several clumps of the red-tipped Japanese bloodgrass, but only because I actively divided the small one that was here when I arrived. I always marvel at reports of their invasiveness, because I wish that they would spread more for me than they do. Here you see the red tips of one clump, set off by the silvery carpet of woolly thyme that is cascading over the retaining wall and pooling around the feet of a blueberry bush:

There is a certain grace to the Japanese forest grasses in the genus hakonechloa. I have two, an artfully striped h. macra 'aureola' that is two years old, and a newly rescued clearance pot of h. m. 'All Gold' that already looks happier planted out in the garden amongst the 'Chocolate Chip' ajuga:
This New Zealand sedge, carex buchanii, is sometimes listed as hardy to zone 6 and sometimes only to zone 7. It overwintered in my garden, and I love the way it combines with the powdery blues of sea kale and lavender, the yellow-edged lemon thyme, and the purple leaves of 'Purple Knockout' salvia lyrata:

I think that I might need a couple of larger pennisetums to help eliminate the lawn grass in the front yard. For now, the only members of that genus that I grow are the 'Rubrum' annual fountaingrass and the smaller 'Hameln,' which resides in the drought-tolerant front garden with sedums and golden oregano:

I have shown my 'The Blues' little bluestem before, but here's another shot that shows how well it mingles with the pyracantha that is being wall-trained. I love the powdery blue foliage next to the dark green firethorn leaves anyway, but when the berries turn orange it's like frosting on the cake:

About the same size as my little bluestems are my chasmanthium latifolium, Northern Sea Oats. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of these and their gorgeous bamboo-like foliage with showy seedheads while I was outside. 'Rotstrahlbusch' panicum virgatum is said to be the "best of the red switchgrasses" in marketing materials, but I feel that a couple of other varieties like 'Shenandoah' color up much better. That said, I still like my three clumps of this grass with its airy sprays of flowers in September... but they are hard to show off in pictures, hence its absence from this post as well.

Sorghastrum nutens
'Sioux Blue' is my favorite of the taller grasses in my garden. I started with one last year and added two more this spring. The first pic shows my original plant just after I gave it some new neighbors midsummer. The second is a detail shot of its golden flowerheads, at about 5ft in height right now:

I have a regular medium-green miscanthus sinensis in the front yard garden, but here you see m. s. 'Morning Light' and 'Gold Bar' still in their pots waiting to be planted in the backyard:

By far the largest ornamental grasses I grow, most of the golden zebra grasses are either m. sinensis 'Strictus' or 'Zebrinus.' This one is from a name-unknown chunk that my aunt and uncle bequeathed to me two years ago, but I'm guessing it is 'Zebrinus' because it's not quite upright enough to be ID'd as the other.
(Layanee, really... too gaudy?!?! Say it ain't so!)

Well, that's it for my ornamental grasses tour. Not a bad tally of grasses for a lot that's just a shade above .1 acres, if I do say so myself!