2009 perennial of the year: Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’

The 2009 choice is Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’ — a perennial ornamental grass, originally from Japan. It’s commonly referred to as Japanese Forest Grass or Hakone Grass. Its botanical name comes from Hakon, a region in Japan, and chloa, the Greek word for grass. The ‘Aureola’ cultivar has golden-striped blades about 1.25 cm (½ inch) wide, thus ‘golden variegated hakone grass’. You can even enjoy shades of pink and red on its foliage during the fall. The flower spikes are often inconspicuous.

This grass is hardy to zone 5, thus fine for Ottawa. It is well behaved, clumping and is naturally arching. Not a huge plant, it measures 12 – 18 inches in spread by 18 – 24 inches tall.

It may be used as a ground cover, in mass plantings or as a border plant. You can even try it in a container – don’t forget to sink the grass into your garden in the fall, however, if you want your Forest grass to survive our winter.
Moist yet well drained soil, and shade (part or dense) are this grass’ ideal growing conditions. Hakone grass likes cool temperatures. You’ll love its brightness in a dark corner of your garden or in the evenings.

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