Japanese forest grass, or Hakonechloa macra, specifically the variegated golden and green ‘Aureola’, brightens the part shade garden. The mounding striped foliage gently sways and rustles in the breeze, emulating waves of water for a calming, cool effect. The slow-spreading clumps take a year or two to establish, wanting to secure roots first, but then they mix amicably adding contrast and texture. The shade garden tapestry gains a dazzle of lemon-lime amongst its soft purples, grays and greens. Above, a daylily or campanula intermingles, lending their exquisite blooms to embellish the graceful grass. The rustling blades dry to a papery brown with wonderful winter interest as they capture and hold fluffy snow. Japanese forest grass will survive in full sun to full shade, but prefers part shade. The greens are stronger in a shadier siting, and the yellows are stronger with more sun. I plan to try the cultivar ‘Nicolas’, whose greens burnish to reds and oranges in the fall.
Technical stuff – Japanese forest grass/Hakonechloa macra, perennial grass hardy to zone 5, height and spread of about 12-24”, prefers part shade but will tolerate full shade to full sun, likes moisture but is adaptable.