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Photo by Ayinde Listhrop
Gardens

Plant of the Week: Autumn moor grass

By John Gunderson | November 20, 2017

As the colorful leaves of autumn begin to drop and winter seems to be just around the corner, Autumn moor grass or Sesleria autumnalis is in peak form. This is a cool season semi-evergreen grass that puts on its strongest growth during the cool months of spring and fall. After the heat of summer subsides, slightly faded foliage returns to the robust bright green of the previous spring. This is soon followed by beautiful creamy white inflorescences held high on 18″ stems. These flowers will turn golden brown in late autumn and persist through winter adding additional interest.

After years of gardening on the High Line, Sesleria autumnalis has become one of my favorite grasses because of its subtle beauty, as well as its resilience and versatility. As a native to the upper moorlands of Europe, it can take quite a beating from the wind, a constant challenge here in the park. I also find that it does equally well in sun or partial shade and can tolerate both dry and medium wet soils once established. Planted in large sweeps or informal groupings, Autumn moor grass is a beautiful and durable addition to any garden.

PLANTING TIP:
A clump forming cool season grass, Sesleria autumnalis does well in sun or shade, tolerates both semi-wet and dry soil, but does not tolerate extreme heat or humidity. Propagate by division in spring.

WHERE TO FIND THIS PLANT:
In Gansevoort Woodland and Washington Grasslands from Gansevoort to 14th Streets, Chelsea Grassland at 19th Street, and in Wildflower Field and Radial Plantings at 30th Street.


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

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