Kruckeberg Plant of the Month: California Fescue

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Festuca californica
By Sarah Baker, Garden Director

Ornamental grasses seem to have seen a recent surge in popularity, and rightly so. They lend a naturalistic look to the garden and their attractive seed heads often ripen in late summer, persisting on the plant to provide interest to your landscape long into the fall and winter season.

California fescue (Festuca californica) is one such grass. Native to California and Oregon, its clumps of blue-green evergreen foliage are two feet tall. In summer, the showy flower stalks rise another two feet above the foliage. The flowers fade to a golden tan. It is best used in naturalistic plantings or tucked into a low-water use landscape. Like many ornamental grasses, California fescue prefers a sunny spot and tolerates drought once established, though it generally looks better with some summer water.

Grasses play an important role for wildlife, providing cover to hide in and soft, supple nesting materials for your garden’s bird residents. Some gardeners argue that grasses can look messy; however, an occasional grooming to remove dead leaves and old flower stalks is generally all that is required to keep them looking tidy.

The Kruckeberg Botanic Garden is located in Richmond Beach neighborhood and is part of the City of Shoreline Department of Parks.


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