Calgary snapshot: perennial grasses in the East Village.

I was over in a newly-refurbished area of the East Village last week and couldn’t help but notice the City’s dominant installation of blue oat grass (Helictotrichon sempervirens) and ‘Karl Foerster’ feather reed grass (Calamagrostis acutiflora).  While I know some gardeners are not necessarily enamoured with these selections, feeling them overutilized in urban landscapes, they have some serious advantages here – namely, they can handle our ridiculous climate, need little water, and are pretty much maintenance-free (which, for our municipal government, the added benefit is that there’s no need to pay gardeners to look after them).  And they look great all year ’round. 

This is a view facing Fort Calgary; the red pillars are interpretive posts describing the historical significance of the Fort.  (The original fort, long gone, was built on the site in 1875 by the Northwest Mounted Police).

Do you grow any ornamental grasses?



  1. Wow! It is most definitely an interesting and lovely way to fill in an area and make it look decently done. We try to grow ornamental grass every year in our garden, with as much color in the grass as we can get. I love it, my hubby likes it. It definitely can add a simple but fulfilling touch to a garden area.

  2. I love all grasses Sheryl and Calamgrostis is one of my favourites, as long as it is planted in the right place. A strong contender for becoming my number one favourite this year was my Stipa tenuissima. Apparently it isn’t always hardy, but so pretty blowing in the wind. 🙂

  3. Beautiful grasses!
    I grow a very tall grass (probably Calamgrostis) in various spots in my yard – usually in a row of three to five clumps. Green fencing and if it doesn’t get hit with a wet snow, it lasts right through the winter.
    I also use a bluish green festuca in areas where nothing else wants to grow. It reseeds easily and is a good filler.

  4. Yes, we do grow a few ornamental grasses, not because we need anything so dramatic this time of year, but because they fit so nicely into the relaxed and unrefined landscape style that we want to merge into the surrounding forests. None are native. I wish there was something comparable to pampas grass that would not be such a weed.

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