A burst of spiky green striped in pale gold, zebra grass is as pretty in the vase as it is in the garden. The pickins are getting slim out there as the rains set in, but ornamental grasses are looking their best this time of year. Count on their strong foliage and fluffy flowers to carry late season bouquets.
Miscanthus sinensis 'Little Zebra' is a dwarf version perfect for smaller gardens, because it tops out at 2-3 feet high. The foliage is stiff and fanlike, which is why it stands up so well to autumn rain and wind. But it also means that to avoid a rigid military effect, you need to mix this sternly upright grass with softer shaped flowers and foliage.
So I raided the vegetable garden for some frilly purple kale, and waded into the border to cut a big mauvey-blue mophead hydrangea head. The little coral bark maple (Acer palmatum 'Sango-kaku') is holding onto its filigreen golden leaves, so I cut a spray to fluff up the bunch a bit.
This simple bouquet works because each of the four ingredients is so different: the grass is striped and spiky, the kale is dark and frilly, the hydrangea distinctly spherical, and the Japanese maple leaves, with their finer texture and windblown look, lighten and brighten the composition.The handmade vase, by Whidbey artist Al Tennant, adds a swirl of color and yet another contrasting texture.
You can leave this bouquet to dry, and it'll last for more than a week. Just as the maple leaves are falling outside the window, they'll drift down indoors to pile up around the base of the vase.