A photo of blue and yellow border at Heronswood (identified by a reader) from the University at Illinois extension site (it’s more of a chartreuse than you see here)
Finally a pick from the Perennial Plant Association that I can get excited about. Well, somewhat excited, because I have been growing it for a couple years—and I am sure many of you have as well—so it not exactly a newsflash. But I know that the Perennial Plant of the Year picks are generally of the tried-and-true variety.
Nonetheless, variegated hakone grass still gets the oohs and ahs on Garden Walk, will grow in my hostile dry and shady conditions, and doesn’t seem to require much in the way of care. Other than planting it, that is. For years, I have been enduring the craze for grasses, knowing I lacked every necessary condition for the survival of most of them. Hakonechloa Aureola is part of a small group of easy, shade-tolerant grasses I can grow (mondo grass is another).
These do not have the dramatic winter presence of the tall, sun-loving grasses—like those of the miscanthus family, whose arching grace I really love. Winter dieback is the rule, though PPA does not specify. In fact, they say zones 5-9, where I see our friend Allan Armitage warns Northern gardeners away, saying only as low as 6. Buffalo nurseries sell it as a perennial. I do notice that Southern gardeners will err on the side of caution when it comes to zones; I also notice zone designations usually need to be taken with a big pinch of something. In Chicago, not known for its mild winters, Barbara/Mr. McGregor’s Daughter has a thriving stand of it.
So kudos to PPA, and here’s to hakone.