I think grasses suffer from lumping. I’m guilty of it myself, many times ending a list of companion perennials with the phrase “and some ornamental grasses.” This gives the impression that all grasses are the same and interchangeable. They’re not, and when we trialed dozens of some of the newest and most popular types at the Chicago Botanic Garden, the differences between them became even more clear. While I still feel like a novice where grasses are concerned, my appreciation has deepened as I’ve opened my eyes to their uniqueness. Rather than treating grasses as footnotes in the garden, I now see them as distinctive plants. Grasses are unsung heroes—often perceived as sidekicks to flashier perennials or relegated to the background in a landscape. But certain grasses are so much more than workaday plants, and they deserve a prime spot where their notable qualities can be seen and heard. These…
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