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A green-gold grass is the perennial plant of 2009

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Somehow, the name Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola'  sounds vaguely Hawaiian to me. It reminds me of palm trees swaying in warm breezes.

Actually it's  a colorful, relatively short, and very useful ornamental grass bred in Japan. And it's been named the 2009 Perennial Plant of the Year by the Perennial Plant Association (PPA).

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Many "award-winning" plants of the year are new introductions, but the PPA always names a tried and true perennial that it thinks should receive greater recognition and be grown more.

Among the qualities the organization looks for: suitable for a wide range of climatic conditions, low maintenance, pest and disease resistant, readily available in the year of release, multiple season of ornamental interest, and easily propagated by asexual or seed propagation.

In Ontario, Doug Green says this charming grass does well in Zone 5 winters, but isn't all that fond of the worst Zone 4 can sometimes dish out.

It's rated for Zones 5-8, which means it's not all that great in either the hottest or coldest parts of North America.

But for those of us in the middle -- especially people who enjoy bright colors, as I do --  this gold and green striped beauty is a great addition to home and public gardens.

The basic facts:
Size: 12 to 18 inches tall and slightly wider (18 to 24 inches).

Where it grows: Plant in rich, well-drained soil and give it full sun in regions with cold winters and part shade in the South.

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I've had  this Hakonechloa grow successfully in clay soil I've enriched with compost. It really makes shady areas shine! And it's just fine for beginners.

Landscape architect Pam Kersting offers some good design tips for Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola' at GardenDesigns + More.

(Note: We invite you to visit the main page of the , where you can find many articles, essays, and blog posts on various garden topics.)