Hmm Hakonechloa (and other grasses)

You may recall that Hmm Hakonechloa was something I was pondering for my front lawn just after reading Neil Lucas' fantastic book, Designing With Grasses.

Sorting through my photographs from Seattle, I'm struck that this thought hasn't strayed that far yet. The above example from the Lane garden is just one of many shots I took of this grass and you'll probably be seeing more in later posts.

Seattle may have a similar climate and planting palette as our own - though both Victoria and I were struck by how much higher and lusher our familiar plants were growing - but I'm pretty sure gardeners across the pond are making much more use of grasses than we tend to do (or perhaps I'm more tuned into them nowadays?).

They're effective too - as I hope this quick trawl through some of the gardens we visited and the public planting I found (like the above example from the University Shopping Village right by our hotel) will show...

The meadow's grasses at the Bloedel Reserve added to the day's mood.

The scene in front of the Italian restaurant we dined at close to our hotel in Seattle. Since I've arrived home, I've realised that this might be the first physical example of a rain garden I've seen.

Grasses lighting up this pathway through the Epping garden made the whimsical lamps superfluous at this time of day.

Another grass and whimsy combo - from the Farley garden this time. I could have used glass or whimsy as a common theme to give you a quick garden tour as they're in much evidence in the Pacific Northwest.

Dreamy combinations from the Bellevue Botanic Garden on a very hot afternoon.

Lorene's Stipa shows just what a good see-through 'curtain' it can make when placed at the front of the border.

This looks a good place to lead daddy a merry dance away from the West Seattle Farmers' Market.

Ooh look - another sneak preview of the Olympic Sculpture Park ;)

A sense of humour in a garden is always welcome and the Dragonfly Farms and Nursery didn't disappoint.

And there you have it: a quick tour round most of the gardens we saw - both public and private - whilst we were in Seattle and told in the form(s) of grasses :D


  1. I think the American are way ahead with us on using grasses, you only have to look at any book on the subject and the majority of examples are from the US. Maybe its because they are used to the open prairies and arent held back by our tradition of having to have lawns etc.

    I love grasses more and more and am currently pondering using some grey ones in the front garden along with bearded irises - one of your photos shows lots of greyish grasses which is exactly what I am planning

  2. i like the top photo best. the grass resembles a strong wave...appropriate for seattle!

  3. I've just bought Neil Lucas's book after reading about it on someone's blog ...but I can't remember which one!
    It's a fabulous book and has quite inspired me to do a grasses border - and your post has really confirmed the idea for me! :)

  4. Grasses definitely look better en masse, I just don't have enough room for them.

  5. I do love grasses and when they don't work there are sedges for damp and shady places. Love, love, love the examples you showed. I think the Seattle gardeners do whimsey well, too.

  6. You know I'm in love with Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola'. It seems to go with everything and makes its partners look better. (Here's a coincidence - I posted a photo today of the same scene from the Lane garden.)
    I'm laughing at your description of that one day as "hot." You need to go to Texas or Nevada in July to experience real hot. Seattle was a cool breeze for me.

  7. Great pictures of the many grasses. I've just started to add more to my own garden and they add a certain "something" and even when they don't have a starring role, they provide a great backdrop for other plants.

  8. VP's high on grass!
    I'd go for the plain green Hakonechloa. Really classy!

  9. I love your tour and photos of our wonderful PNW! I have Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola' in my tiny garden and it blends beautifully with whatever it is with and it is not a rambunctious spreader. Once you see great mounds of it waving in the breeze you'll be hooked. One grass to be wary of is the Mexican Feather Grass seen in your son/father photo...I've seen it sprout up everywhere, even the cracks in the sidewalks near where the original was planted. Glad you had a nice time in Seattle.

  10. Hi everyone - thanks for your comments and I hope you find the pictures inspirational for your own projects.

    MMD - we moved onto more hotter climes post Seattle, hitting 97 degrees fahrenheit in Yakima. Of course this is a mere nothing compared to those living in southern USA at the moment.

    Robert - there's a classy pic of the plain green Hakonechloa to come :)


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