Molinia caerulea brings magic to a garden. It’s especially apparent in the designs of Piet Oudolf and others who layer and interweave perennials. Moor Grass, as it’s commonly called, has ethereal, see-through plumes that wave gently above the foliage. Blooming in early summer, Molinia adds movement and texture to the garden.
According to Noel Kingsbury, a renowned plantsman who wrote Planting: A New Perspective with Oudolf, Molinia is useful because it is long-lived across a range of habitats. It develops a full, mounding habit that stays in place and is relatively low-growing. Oudolf uses Molinia caerulea with similar, shorter grasses as a matrix into which he plants other perennials. The see-through plumes of Molinia give a sense of enclosure without completely blocking the view. For a lovely explanation of this “screens and curtains” approach, read the High Line’s Plant of the Week post.
Oudolf placed Molinia on a number of well-known projects in the U.S., including the High Line in New York and the Lurie Garden in Chicago. We’ve also seen them extensively in Europe, in places such as Appeltern Garden and the Foerster Garden in Germany, and in Oudolf’s home garden in Hummelo, Netherlands.
One of our favorite cultivars is M. caerulea subsp. arundinacea ‘Skyracer,’ which was selected by Kurt Bluemel. We’ve grown ‘Skyracer’ for years. After visiting Oudolf’s garden in 2013, John Hoffman began looking into other cultivars. We’ve begun trialing several and hope to offer the best of them in the future.
Moor Grass grows well for us in North Carolina, but it is at its most specatcular in cooler climates. We think it’s an underused plant that deserves more attention. Isn’t it time you experienced the magic of Molinia?