Plant of the week

KOELERIA MACRANTHA / JUNE GRASS (as seen in the Zenith Avenue Landscape)

One of the great cool-season grasses of the prairie, we love June Grass for its fresh blue-green color in spring – one of the first grasses to pop up – and then for its wheat-like panicles, which flicker from yellow-green to tan as spring melds into summer. When backlit, the panicles simply glow. The grass is clump-forming, especially when planted from a container specimen, and stays relatively neat and compact, not reaching more than 2 1/2′ in height, with a spread of about 1 1/2′ – 2′ after a few years. As it is cool season, it will go dormant durng the hottest months but won’t brown out until winter. And, as usual, it is quite drough-tolerant. In Los Angeles, you can see it planted in a mixed meadow with Bouteloua gracilis / Blue Grama Grass at Barnsdall Park as an alternative to conventional turf grass. In Minnesota, June Grass needs no supplemental water once established, except during particularly dry stretches. PRAIRIEFORM prefers June Grass in mass plantings for dramatic swaths of texture, color, and sway, but you can plant June Grass tucked in here in there in the front or mid-section of a mixed bed or border and you’ll still be happy.

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