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Considering Ornamental Grasses? Try ‘Northern Lights’

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Article Written by: California Mailboxes

As the boom in perennials of all stripes continues, so too has the popularity of ornamental grasses remained strong. Ornamental grasses are still hot and show no sign of abating soon. And for good reason: they provide much form, color and texture for a wide variety of landscape uses.

To fuel this demand even more, horticulturists are trialing and introducing many new varieties from a wide range of genera.

One new grass coming to market is Deschampsia cespitosa ‘Northern Lights’ (variegated tufted hair grass).

D. cespitosa ‘Northern Lights’ was a chance seedling found by Harlan Hamernik at Bluebird Nursery in Clarkson, Nebraska, USA in December 1993.

American Ornamental Perennials in Eagle Creek, Oregon, USA is one nursery that has trialed the variety for evaluation since 1995. Over the last couple of years, owner Steve Schmidt reports, nursery visitors and staff have been impressed with the appearance and growth habit of this new variegated tufted hair grass. It emerges with gold longitudinal variegation and pink tips that persist into the summer. As the season progresses, the gold becomes a creamy white.

‘Northern Lights’ is best used in part shade in groups or as a specimen. It shows itself in combination with bold, green and blue foliage plants. It works well as a pot plant, too. It grows to 12-18 inches high and is hardy in Zone 5 (Nebraska) and ranging to Zone 9. It is presently being tested in Denver and Minneapolis, in the USA, for hardiness. In winter it is semi-evergreen. It prefers soil moist to dry.



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