Plant of the Week: Autumn Moor Grass

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Author: 
Andi Pettis
Autumn moor grass. Photo by Friends of the High LineAutumn moor grass (Sesleria autumnalis) forms upright clumps that lend an almost formal element to the High Line’s naturalistic aesthetic. Photo by Friends of the High Line

The High Line’s planting design is inspired by the self-seeded landscape that grew up between rail tracks after the trains stopped running in the 1980s. Today, the High Line includes more than 300 species of perennials, grasses, shrubs, and trees – each chosen for their hardiness, adaptability, diversity, and seasonal variation in color and texture. Some of the species that originally grew on the High Line’s rail bed are reflected in the park landscape today.

This week we share one of our gardeners’ current favorites with you.

As we languish through a final heat wave in this last week of August, the autumn moor grass is in peak bloom, reminding us that cooler weather is on the way. Relatively short in stature at only 12 to 16 inches tall, Sesleria autumnalis forms upright clumps that lend an almost formal element to the High Line’s naturalistic aesthetic. A cool-season grass, it's one of the first on the High Line to begin pushing new growth in the spring. But as summer temperatures rise, Sesleria autumnalis begins to go dormant. In the dry dog days of July and August the foliage tends to yellow as its growth slows – a good adaptation for dealing with heat and drought. As temperatures cool in the fall, autumn moor grass “greens up” and pushes energy into making flowers, which are spikes of creamy pale gold that rise through the yellow-green foliage. This year, mild summer temperatures and lots of rainfall have made for a particularly successful season for autumn moor grass.

WHERE TO SEE THIS PLANT
See Sesleria autumnalis with its profusion of flowers and bright slender foliage on the High Line between Gansevoort and 14th Streets, 18th and 20th Streets, and 27th and 30th Streets.

Download our August bloom list.

Our horticultural team counts on members and friends like you to help keep the High Line beautiful and thriving. Join our community of supporters who play an essential role in the High Line’s most important gardening projects – become a member of Friends of the High Line today!