Combine Ornamental Grasses with Coneflowers just like the Highline in Manhattan
Have you ever been up on the Highland Park in New York City – the floating garden on the old highline subway line on the west side? Well if you haven’t it is well worth the trip, especially this time of year when all the perennials are at their prime. For Tina’s Garden this week I’ve recreated part of the Highline planting with a combination of Echinacea, (coneflower) and ornamental grasses. Pictured here is Echinacea ‘Aloha’ and Echinacea ‘Now Cheesier’ combined with Acorus ‘Ogon’ , Pennisetum ‘Red Head’ and Schizachyrium ‘Carousel’. It creates a gorgeous mix of texture and summer colors with the relaxed feeling of a meadow.
Echinacea ‘Aloha’ is one of my favorite coneflowers because of its color. Masses of pale peach flowers with an orange cone shine brightly atop long stems making them excellent for cut flowers. It grows quickly in the garden forming a bushy clump of strong, upright stems and rich green foliage. ‘Aloha’ is a very long bloomer often showing color from early summer to early fall. Like all coneflowers they are a magnet for butterflies. Be sure to leave some of the spent blooms on the plants in the fall because their seeds provide winter food for finches and other birds.
Fountain grasses are one of the most popular grasses for its soft flowing foliage and Pennisetum ‘Red Head’ is my favorite. I love their striking, extra large, soft smokey-pink bottlebrush plumes. They are one of the earliest flowering selections, which works well in mass plantings or as a specimen. It remains attractive through most of the winter and can be cut down in early spring. The plumes are beautiful in cut flower arrangements.
Schizachrium ‘Carosel’,( Little Blue Stem) is a dwarf, known for its bowl-shaped habit with stiff, upright blades of blue-green foliage. It grows approximately 30” tall and wide. It’s native to the prairies and open woods of North America giving your garden a more natural look.
Acorus ‘Ogon’, Dwarf Sweet Flag, grows in sun or shade. It grows approximately 12” tall and 18-24” wide, making it an excellent border for the taller more naturalistic planting of grasses and coneflowers. It makes a nice neat bright yellow outline that defines the bed. Like all ornamental grasses it is not preferred by deer. Sweet Flag likes water so it is often planted near ponds or water features because it can take wet feet.