This section is from the book "The Florists' Manual", by William Scott. Also available from Amazon: The Florist's Manual.
Several grasses should be prominent in all mixed borders of hardy plants, or make beautiful clumps on the lawn, either singly or in groups. They will thrive in any ordinary good soil and those named are perfectly hardy. They are propagated by division and rapidly increase in size.
The finest and most ornamental of all, the Pampas grass, is unfortunately not hardy enough to withstand our northern winters. Where the temperature does not drop more than 15 degrees below the freezing point it will do finely. The Pampas grass (Gyne-rium argenteum) is a native of the Argentines and temperate South America, thriving grandly in California, from whence we get our plumes. It seems as though with the protection of a stout box filled in with dry leaves and with a movable cover, this ornamental plant could be wintered safely, and in the decoration of fine grounds well repay the labor. We assuredly go to greater expense in preserving some plants that are not of so much value.
Arundo Donax: This is the noblest of the hardy grasses, growing in one summer eight to ten feet in height. It needs no protection. In the spring cut off close to the ground the last year's canes and mulch with a few inches of manure.
A. Donax versicolor or variegata is not quite so hardy, but is much more ornamental. It should be protected in the winter months with a covering of six inches of litter over the crowns. It is identical in every respect with the type except that its leaves are beautifully variegated.
Eulalias are the most useful grasses and are so hardy they need no protection. The tops are usually left standing during winter and removed by cutting or burning off in the spring.
Eulalia Japonica; the flower is ornamental but it is the long, narrow, 4-foot leaves that make this grass such an acquisition to the garden.
E. Japonica zebrina; the leaves are very handsome, having bars of yellow across them.
E. Japonica foliis striatis; in this sort the creamy band runs lengthwise of the leaf.
E. Japonica gracillima univittata; this is the narrowest leaved and most graceful of all, but not such a robust grower as the others, and is more suitable for a choice place in the border than to form a mass on the lawn.
Erianthus Ravennae; this might be called a small Pampas grass, throwing up handsome plumes. It is quite hardy.
Arundinaria tecla; a very ornamental grass, but should be planted in moist ground or given water very freely. It does well on the margins of lakes.
Pennisetum Japonicum; well worthy a place in the mixed border and perfectly hardy.
Pennisetum longistylum; this pretty plumed grass is very effectively used in bedding. It can be grown from seed, but is usually propagated by division. Take up several clumps in the fall, trim off the foliage, place in a box and set under a bench in a house with a temperature of 40 to 45 degrees. In March shake out the soil, tear the clump to pieces and pot two or three runners in a 3-inch or 4-inch pot. Place in a house with a temperature of 60 degrees. They make plants in a short time and may be bedded out the latter part of May or early in June. The accompanying engraving shows a border of this pennisetum around a bed of cannas.