by     John Greenlee    Greenlee and Associates , Brisbane, CA  APLD Bay Area District Member

by John Greenlee
Greenlee and Associates, Brisbane, CA
APLD Bay Area District Member

Up and Coming Grasses

An expert in grass ecology and champion of sustainable design,  John Greenlee has made meadows all around the world. His designs are featured at such notable public spaces as the San Diego Zoo, Disney's Animal Kingdom in Florida, and the Getty Center in Los Angeles. John Greenlee has also created beautiful meadows gardens in private residences all over California, the U.S., including Hawaii, Morocco, the United Kingdom, and Saudi Arabia.

Long known as the “grass guy” in California, John Greenlee shares a list of some lesser known grasses that have great potential and are worth trying.

John's book,  The American Meadow Garden

John's book, The American Meadow Garden

Bouteloua gracilis ‘Pestanas de Angeles’

This is the only California Bouteloua in the nursery trade and one of the smallest flowering grasses we know. It tucks really nicely into container gardens and is going to be really useful in the succulent planting. It is a compact form growing 2-3" foliage and 2- 3" flower.

Poa cita

We think this gorgeous, fine textured, clumping ground cover grass is the replacement for Mexican Feather grass with its similar color and texture and the way it captures light and motion. The flowers are noticeable but not really showy and  never really messy on the plant, making it a well behaved ground cover. 2' high and wide.

Carex inversa

This is the holy grail of a creeping ground cover sedge. Native to New Zealand and Australia, this particular form makes and slowly creeping, sod forming meadows Its never taller than 2-4". Discovered in a dry shady parkway in Palo Alto where people were stepping on it while getting out of their cars. We think it’s going to be great between steeping stones. Tolerates deep shade but also full sun. Drought tolerant once established.

Leymus triticoides ‘Lagunita'

We are keen on this extremely drought tolerant native evergreen grass. Use with caution in small gardens as it spreads by underground rhizomes.  In large scale spaces you can't have a better ground cover. It will take all the water you give it. It will go summer dormant and renew with winter rain. Good for erosion control in swales as well.

All photos courtesy of Greenlee and Associates.

One more to watch for:

Eragrostis intermedia, PLAINS LOVEGRASS
This is a new grass to us. We don't have a lot of experience with it but so far we like what we see. Evergreen, soft blue gray foliage is topped with cloud like blossoms in the spring with an overall height in effect of 2'. We don't have many ground covers that are that short. Lovely flowering accent. Silver white when they emerge and they dry to a gorgeous blonde