The occasional value of tried but true

Karl Foerster and Overdam grasses backlit in the morning light

Some of the most ubiquitous plants in the American landscape have been used ad nauseum simply out of convention, good marketing, and/or reluctance on the part of the everyday joe to try something different (we won’t name names of plants so as not to offend, and because, yes, to each one’s own). They may be as dull as can be, but people continue to use them endlessly. In any case, certain of these ubiquitous plants are ubiquitous precisely because they are intensely reliable and provide much in the way of visual flare across the seasons. We’ve come full circle with two of them: Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’ (‘Karl Foerster’ feather reed grass) and Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Overdam’ (‘Overdam’ feather reed grass). Initially bored by seeing them everywhere, we have learned to embrace their wonder and reliability. They come up early, offer a fresh shot of color to the landscape; they grow up, send out their seed heads in June, and by July you have both vertical structure and the visual effect of a tidy meadow in the landscape. Their color fades to tawny golds and tans in fall, and their structure holds up once the snow begins to fall. Tried but true, yes, but lovely all the same.

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