It hasn’t begun just yet but with the cold morning temperatures we’ve had this week the foliage on deciduous trees and shrubs will begin to turn. It will peak sometime in October and then the show will be over as the ground is littered with leaves. Meanwhile, the ornamental grasses, the other star player in the game of “autumn garden” are blooming and waving happily in the fall breeze. They’ll continue to provide a graceful element to the winter garden long after the trees and shrubs are bare branches. Several years ago we planted several Miscanthus sinensis ‘Silberfeder,’ the Silver Feather Maiden Grass, in the display gardens at the front of our garden centre. We’ll get more comments in the coming months about these plants than any others.
NUTS AND BOLTS
All miscanthus are warm season grasses; they don’t start to come out of winter dormancy and produce new growth until the soil has warmed up considerably. You don’t see anything happening with them until late April. Once the heat arrives they’ll grow quickly, reaching 2 to 2.5 metres tall and 1.5 metres wide at maturity. Foliage is green with a white mid-rib. The flower plumes are larger than those of many other varieties of Maiden Grass. They’re large and feathery, turning silvery-white as they open fully. Miscanthus will tolerate drier soils once they’re established but they do best in average soils with regular moisture. Once the hard frosts arrive the entire plant; stems, foliage and blooms, is transformed to a wheat colour. The plants keep their shape all winter, moving gracefully in the winter winds and being framed beautifully when backlit by the late afternoon sun.
IN THE GARDEN
Give ‘Silver Feather’ plenty of space in your garden. Their arching growth habit lends itself well to growing beside a pond, and if you have a large enough container they are beautiful sited on a large deck or patio. Large ornamental grasses like this one can be used very effectively as screens in the garden, doing the same task as a woody hedge but with far more grace and beauty.