Grasses Garner Attention in Europe

Grasses garnered major attention this month in Europe. Internationale Stauden-Union (ISU), also known as The International Hardy Plant Union, announced their 2014 award winners. The union, which is similar to our Perennial Plant Association, evaluates newly introduced perennials on a two-year cycle.

Miscanthus 'Luc Andre Lepage'
Michel Le Damany and John Hoffman pose in front of Michel’s award-winning Miscanthus.

This year ten plants were selected as award winners from seventy that were evaluated. Of the ten, three were grasses: a variegated Miscanthus, a Molinia, and a blue-green Panicum. John and Jill Hoffman were in attendance at the ISU Congress (“Summerdays”) and had a chance to look at the award winners.

Miscanthus sinensis var. condensatus ‘Luc André Lepage’

This selection comes from Michel and Caty Le Damany of Pépinières Lepage “Bord de la Mer” in France. This beautiful Miscanthus is a late bloomer (October in Brittany) with green and gold variegation. It’s around five feet tall and looks like a great candidate for trials in the US.

Molinia ‘Les Ponts de Cé’

Another selection from Michel and Caty Le Damany. It’s fine and elegant, with lovely yellow, autumn color. It tops out at just over three feet with plumes.

Panicum virgatum 'Buffalo Green'
Panicum virgatum ‘Buffalo Green’ stays upright even when other plants in the garden flop.

Panicum virgatum ‘Buffalo Green’ PBR

This grass comes from Jacob Hokema of Fehrle-Stauden in Germany. This Switchgrass resists flopping, even when other garden plants are laid flat, and it’s a heavy bloomer. The plumes are quite large relative to the foliage and among other Panicum.

The ISU’s trialing process evaluates perennials on their suitability for cultivation and garden value. Context is also taken in account. For example, perennials used in borders must have high ornamental value and remain healthy and presentable as long as possible. The plants are housed in special evaluation gardens for the duration of the trials.

Download a list of all the award winners here.

It will be several years before any of these hit the North American markets. They must be trialed and evaluated here first. But we’re thrilled that grasses are so well represented in the award winners. Go grasses!

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