Magical Moor Grass

Molinia 'Sky Racer' at Indy Museum of Art

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.

Molinia in Piet Oudolf's garden
Molinia appears throughout Piet Oudolf’s home garden in Hummelo, Netherlands.

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.

Molinia in the Foerster Garden
In the Foerster Garden, a mix of perennials is anchored by Molinia.

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.

Appeltern Garden
A simple but dramatic planting of Molinia in Appeltern Garden softens the hardscape and enlivens the garden.

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?

To find out more, go to our plant profile or email our sales team.

Variegated Molinia at MBG
Molinia caerulea ‘Variegata’ at the Montreal Botanical Garden.

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