Charles Day is Wave Hill’s Ruth Rea Howell Horticultural Interpreter.
Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra), as it slowly fades from its summer green to pale straw, is one of the loveliest sights in the garden this time of year.
It thrives in the shade, unlike most grasses, and this makes it a very useful choice for garden spots that lack sun. It is a perennial and grows back each spring, forming a billowy mound by midsummer. There are several selections with yellow (or white) striped foliage but, for simple elegance, the plain green of the species is hard to beat.
The smokebush hybrid (Cotinus ‘Grace’) nearby has kept its coppery fall foliage well into December this year, and the combination of the two is just gorgeous.