Notes on Karl Foerster Grass
We had a thick bed of daylilies along the fence for many years but in Fall 2017 we decided to clean up the area inside the fence, get rid of some old wooden containers we’d had there for a while, and put in some new sod along there. Once we had fixed up the inside of the fence we decided to redo the area on the outside and set grasses in the area where the lilies used to be.
These pictures from September 2017 show what the area looked like
for the last few years (relevant pictures at the end of the page this link brings up).
Here’s how the work went last October.
The plan initially was to put in some Karl Foerster grass (hereafter KFG), which grows 3 to 4 feet and produces tight seed heads, and to set in some small marigolds around the grasses. Once the grass and marigolds were in, however, it seemed a little bare. We dotted some sweet alyssum around the marigolds and that has filled out very nicely.
we set out the plants; there are some before / after pictures here.
There is a lot to be learned about KFG. These are notes from High Country Gardens’ website (start of quoted material)
The world's most popular ornamental grass, 'Karl Foerster' has a strong upright habit and blooms with showy flowers that ripen to tawny seed heads that decorate the plant through the fall and winter months.
2001 Perennial Plant of the Year 48-60" tall x 24" wide (division propagated). Rather drought tolerant (but not quite xeric) and tolerating a wide range of garden soils. Feather Reed Grass has a wonderful upright growth habit, making it very useful to place behind perennials with a spreading or rounded shape. The feathery plumes emerge in early summer and ripen to handsome wheat-colored seed heads by fall. Cut back to 3” late spring. Scratch out old, dead canes from the center of the clump. Combine with Artemisia 'Powis Castle' or Russian Sage. Plant in groups of three or five for best effect.
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Gardening expert Michael MacCaskey (National Gardening Association) writes as follows about KFG at Garden.org: (start of quoted material)
Several exciting new ornamental grasses have come into our gardens the last few years, but none with the beauty, versatility, and reliability of feather reed grass, also known as Calamagrostis acutiflora 'Karl Foerster'.
This tall and narrow grass is believed to be a natural hybrid of C. epigejos and C. arundinacea, both natives of Europe and Asia. The noted German nurseryman, Karl Foerster, discovered the plant in the Hamburg Botanical Garden. He listed it in has 1939 nursery catalog, and included it in his 1950 garden book, The Use of Grasses and Ferns in the Garden. From there it spread around Europe until in 1964 it was brought from Denmark into the U.S.
Leaf blades are 2 to 3 feet long and a deep, shiny green. Loose, feathery flowers atop 5-foot stems appear in June and are initially light pink in color. As the seed heads mature, they become very narrow and turn a golden tan color that lasts through the fall. One of the distinguishing and highly regarded features of 'Karl Foerster' compared to other varieties is its narrow and upright growth. At only 18 inches wide and up to 5 feet tall, a grouping creates a dramatic vertical element in gardens.
The plant is fully deciduous in cold winter areas, but semi-evergreen in mild winter climates. Leaves emerge early in spring and last until early winter.
Unlike many common ornamental plants from other continents, the seeds of 'Karl Foerster' are sterile. After nearly 40 years in American gardens, it has never become an invasive pest.
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July 7, 2018