Ornamental Grasses

The Ornamental Grass Collection was established in 1995 as a project of the Ames Garden Club in a prominent location adjacent to the original (north) entrance. The planting is of greatest interest in the fall when the fluffy flower heads open out. Twenty-five cultivars of Miscanthus sinensis were selected for the trial and planted in three replicates. This provides a great opportunity for visitors to compare cultivars.

Sources included Gary Kopf of Bald Eagle Nursery in Fulton, Illinois, Bluebird Nursery in Clarkson, Nebraska, and private donors. The winter of 1995 was rather brutal and many plants were lost. If all three replicates failed to survive, the cultivar was replaced by another. At Gary’s suggestion, the area was underplanted with strains of buffalo grass,Buchloe dactyloides, obtained from Dr. Terry Riordan of the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.

This Iowa Arboretum planting was one of the first to be established in a public garden in the region and was evaluated for several years as part of a public/private consortium of growers led by Mary Meyer of the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. Please see the attachment (Ornamental Grasses at the Iowa Arboretum) for additional information about our Ornamental Grass Collection.