Natural. One of the strongest and most fashionable movements in planting right now is perennials combined with ornamental grasses, planted in large swaths akin to a meadow. Inspired by the flowers of natural prairies, it is a look full of movement, light and color. Good perennials to combine with grasses include Rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’, knautias, alliums, poppies and kniphofias.
mexican hat, prairie clover, salvia argentia
sedums with blue fescue
.tiger eyes sumac
columbine in shade
Grasses, Phlox and coneflowers
A mountain prairie garden in Salida, Colorado, supports threadleaf giant hyssop (Agastache rupestris), blue grama grass (Bouteloua gracilis), blanketflower (Gaillardia aristata), rubber rabbitbrush (Ericameria nauseosa) and Bigelow’s tansyaster (Dieteria bigelovii) for pollinators and songbirds. Native plants provide the vernacular, the dialect and the flavor of our unique bioregions. In our gardens and landscaping, these most local of voices reconnect humanity — breath, cell and soul — to this singular, living planet. They bring us home.
Symphyotrichum oblongifolium Common name: Aromatic aster October Skys
Coneflower, rattlesnake master, annabelle hydrangia and grasses
Purple prairie clover with rudbeckia
Botanical name: Liatris aspera Common names: Tall blazingstar, rough blazingstar, button blazingstar, tall gayfeather, rough gayfeather
Tall Blazingstar (Liatris aspera)
You can have just a few flowering plants or have a lot, but generally 50 percent flowers and 50 percent sedges and grasses is a good baseline.
Swaths of ‘Waldenbuch’ feather reed grass (Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Waldenbuch’) add movement above a tapestry of mixed perennials, including orange yarrow (Achillea ‘Walther Funcke’), deep purple penstemon (Penstemon ‘Blackbird’), white lace flower (Orlaya grandiflora), and dahlias with plum foliage and ruby blossoms (Dahlia ‘Happy Single Romeo’). The delicate seed heads of ‘Golden Bee’ quaking grass (Briza media ‘Golden Bee’) tremble with the slightest autumn breeze.
yarrow, sumac, nepeta and carl forester
Sneezeweed and Smokebush
Ornamental grasses such as switchgrass (Panicum spp and cvs, USDA zones 5 to 9; find your zone) and fountain grass (Pennisetum spp and cvs, zones 5 to 9) respond effortlessly to the wind.
Blue Grama Grass (Bouteloua gracilis) Native to the prairies yet found in almost all of the states west of the Mississippi River
galardia, larkspur, poppy