Gigantism in the garden | The Journal of Quebec

Grasses give a lot of appeal and volume to gardens during the fall and part of the winter season. And when they are giant, these plants give a very unique personality and dynamism to the arrangements in which they are planted. Once autumn arrives, these giants dominate the place and become the undisputed stars of the gardens.

Gérard’s Barbon “Indian Warrior”

  • Height: 1.8 m
  • Width: 80 cm
  • Flowering: purple
  • Foliage: purple green, narrow
  • Sunshine: sun
  • Soil: adapts to various types of soils
  • Hardiness: zone 3

Gérard’s “Indian Warrior” barbon is a spectacular grass that presents purple-green foliage during the summer season, changing to red tinged with purple in September, then taking on a rich purple color with copper highlights in October. The unique fall color of this plant lends a theatrical and dramatic look to gardens, especially during Halloween time. Gérard’s barbon “Indian Warrior” adapts easily to various types of soils provided they are well exposed to the sun.

Ravenna sugar cane

  • Height: 4 m
  • Width: 1.5m
  • Flowering: golden beige
  • Foliage: green, narrow
  • Sunshine: sun
  • Soil: rich and moist, but well drained
  • Hardiness: zone 5

Ravenna’s spectacular sugar cane – Saccharum ravennae from its scientific name – is a closely related species of true sugar cane which can reach almost 4 meters in height. According to some sources, this giant grass could withstand the winter conditions that prevail in zone 5, in the greater regions of Montreal and Ottawa.

This plant requires full sun and lots of heat. It is also important to plant it in a soil rich in humus and moist, but perfectly well drained. Under such conditions, it will produce long purple stems in September and October with narrow beige feathery inflorescences slightly tinged with pink.

The name of this species of sugarcane native to the Mediterranean basin comes from the city of Ravenna, Italy, which was the capital of the Western Roman Empire from 404 AD. AD, during the reign of Honorius, until his fall in 476.

Fake sorghum tilted “Sioux Blue”

  • Height: 1.80 m
  • Width: 70 cm
  • Flowering: golden
  • Foliage: bluish, very narrow
  • Sunshine: sun
  • Soil: adapts to various types of soils
  • Hardiness: zone 3

The “Sioux Blue” leaning false sorghum is a large grass with a fastigiate habit sporting attractive bluish foliage which creates a nice contrast with its
beige bloom.

This easy-to-grow and highly adaptable grass grows well in most soils, whether dry or wet. However, it does its best when planted in soil rich in compost and cool.

Giant Miscanthus

  • Height: 3.5m
  • Width: 3 m
  • Flowering: greyish beige
  • Foliage: green, narrow
  • Sunshine: sun
  • Soil: rich and moist, but well drained
  • Hardiness: zone 5

At 3.5 meters tall, the spectacular giant miscanthus is one of the largest perennial grasses that can be grown in the south of our province. This plant is most elegant in late summer and fall. Although it does not always flower very profusely in our climate, it has attractive, fine, greyish-green foliage that droops gracefully. This architectural grass thus gives a lot of volume to the arrangements.

Giant miscanthus reaches its full potential in very sunny places where the soil is rich in compost and moist, but perfectly well drained. It also grows in slightly less fertile and simply cool soils, but it hardly tolerates poor, dry soils.

Hardy in zone 5 – possibly even in zone 4b -, the giant miscanthus is a vigorous and aggressive plant, it should be planted in a place of your garden where there will be enough space.

Blue Molinie “Skyracer”

  • Height: 2.20 m
  • Width: 1 m
  • Flowering: golden beige
  • Foliage: green, very narrow
  • Exposure: sun
  • Soil: adapts to various types of moist, but well-drained soils
  • Hardiness: zone 4

The blue “Skyracer” molinia has very light, almost wispy inflorescences carried by long scapes that rise well above its foliage. The narrow and slender habit of this grass gives a lot of dynamism and volume to plantations made up of low plants.

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