Temper the Heat with this Cool Grass

By Karen Chapman, le jardinet

temper the heat landscape

With its neat, pincushion-like habit, low water needs, and cool blue color, this evergreen grass is both versatile and undemanding, and unlike some varieties, Beyond Blue fescue retains its color throughout the year.

In the landscape it can be used as a low hedge or as a neat edging for the border, its mounding shape offering an interesting alternative to topiary boxwood (Buxus sp.). In the waterwise garden it excels as a foundation for flowering companions such as hyssop (Agastache sp.), gaura (Gaura sp.), and coneflowers (Echinacea sp.).

The compact nature of this grass also makes it an excellent addition to container gardens, where it can add a contemporary vibe to dramatic black, white, and silver color schemes, a subtle addition to romantic, pastel pairings, or add an unexpected cooling element to warm color schemes.

Use the two combination ideas given here to explore the possibilities, and you are sure to discover that you’ll need more than just one of these cool grasses.

container garden plants

Fire and Ice

Create a sizzling, deer resistant container garden that will be a colorful focal point from late spring until fall.

Use the cool slate-blue foliage of Beyond Blue fescue to temper the heat of a bold orange pot and flame colored foliage and flowers. Orange Rocket barberry (Berberis thunbergii ‘Orange Rocket’) creates a dramatic container centerpiece with its deep burgundy leaves that turn vivid orange in fall. Surround this with a trio of golden oregano (Origanum vulgare 'Aureum') and fiery Campfire Fireburst bidens (Bidens Campfire Fireburst), whose orange and gold blooms dart like flickering flames among the blue grasses. A few trailing silver accents such as Silver Falls dichondra (Dichondra argentea ‘Silver Falls’) add the finishing touch and give the appearance of icicles slowly melting on a hot summer’s day. 

temper the heat plant collage

Cool Elegance

If you need a water-wise combination for the hot spot in the landscape, try this elegant, monochromatic medley. The aqua shades will give the illusion of a cooling stream, a welcome mirage on any sunny day.

Play to its softer side by pairing Beyond Blue fescue with the variegated foliage of Cool Blue ceanothus (Ceanothus thyrsiflorus 'Cool Blue'). The fresh, blue-green and white variegated leaves of this evergreen shrub are a crisp backdrop to the light blue flowers that appear in late spring. Complete the scene Silver Mound wormwood (Artemisia schmidtiana ‘Silver Mound’), whose whisper-soft silver foliage will harmonize perfectly to create a waterwise combination that offers year-round color yet is remarkably low maintenance.

Beyond Blue fescue (Festuca glauca ‘Beyond Blue’)

Hardiness: USDA zones 4-10, Sunset zones 1-24

Light: Full sun, part sun

Water: Low

Mature size: 9-12 inches tall x 18 inches wide

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Your zip code 20149 is in Zone: 6b with a temperature range of: -5 to 0 °F.

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