The use of ornamental grasses is becoming increasingly popular and pampas grass, Japanese silver grass, and feather reed grass can be found in nurseries, big box stories, and from online sources. Grasses can add color, texture and movement to the garden throughout the year but how do you know what grasses to choose? John Greenlee’s book, The Encyclopedia of Ornamental Grasses, puts at your fingertips all the information about grasses you will need to know to select the grasses that best meet your needs and wants for your garden.
The book is divided into three parts. The first provides basic information on grasses such as seasons of growth, habit, forms, life cycles, selecting and buying, planting, maintaining, propagating, and pests and diseases management. The major part of the book presents plant profiles of over two hundred fifty grasses. Each entry includes a picture with a inset showing the botanical name, pronunciation, common name, USDA hardiness zones, origin, and preferred site. Brief paragraphs follow giving a description of the plant’s physical characteristics, landscape uses , culture and propagation, and pests and problems. From the entry for Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra), for example you learn that it is hardy in zones 7-9, is low growing and slow-spreading, is prized for its delicate foliage, grows about 12″ high, has pinkish leaves in fall that turn bronze in winter, has no pests or problems of significance, and is an excellent plant for a lightly shaded container.
If you have doubts as to how to use grasses in the garden, the third part of the book will be helpful. It provides plans and plant lists by well-known designers for gardens composed completely of grasses as well as for gardens including shrubs and herbaceous plants. A glossary of terms, bibliography, list of mail-order sources, USDA hardiness map, an index of common to botanical names, and a general index conclude the work. If you have any interest is growing ornamental grasses this is an excellent reference book for your library.