A total of 160 grass or grass-like species/cultivars were evaluated under field conditions for a period of four years. Detailed assessments of survival, growth and development are presented. Horticultural evaluations were completed on all material, providing a basis for making recommendations for utilization of grasses in the landscape in colder regions (USDA zone 3) of the Great Plains. Thirty accessions were identified with very good to outstanding visual appeal. Plants that were rated very high for horticultural value included: big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii), feathertop (Calamagrostis epigejos), many of the sedges (Carex sp.), plumegrass (Erianthus ravennae), Hervier's fescue (Festuca hervierri), Leman's fescue (Festuca lemanii), tall purple rhoorgrass (Molinia caerulea spp. arundinacea cv. Skyracer), switchgrass species and cultivars (Panicum virgatum cv. Haense Herms, Heavy Metal and Strictum), ravenna grass (Saccharum ravennae) and variegated cordgrass (Spartina pectinata cv. Aureo-marginata). Eighteen accessions were removed from the test mainly due to their invasive nature (e.g., Bromus inermis cv. Skinner's Golden, Elymus spp., Glyceria maxima and Phragmites australis). Of the remaining 142 accessions, 71.8% had at least one plant remaining at the end of the test period (1996).
The authors would like to thank Mr. Larry Dyck and numerous summer students for their assistance as well as the nurseries and botanic gardens that supplied material for these tests. In particular we would like to acknowledge Humber Nurseries, Ontario, Prairie Habitats, Manitoba, Prairie Originals, Manitoba and Valleybrook (British Columbia and Ontario) who supplied accessions during the course of the study.
2Manager, Morden Research Centre.