Chris & I were driving down to Raleigh this summer for the annual Garden Writers Convention, when we pulled into a rest area whereupon our eyes were immediately drawn to a couple of massive clumps of ornamental grass. As we got closer, we realized it was a combination of 2 different grasses that gave the illusion of 1 big one.
Circling around a single specimen of Panicum was a number of Pennisetum clumps. This works really well because this particular type of Panicum has an upright,narrow habit. It also has just the right height giving good balance in this combination.
The Pennisetum grass works as a collar around the Panicum as the plumes jetison outward. The leaves of Pennisetum bend downward providing a skirt-like appearance as if dressed and ready for a party.
I can see using other plants that share a similar form to the Panicum such as Calamagrostis Karl Foerster, or Ilex Sky Pencil. What about trimming up a Hydrangea or a Sambucus and then encircling it with your favorite Pennisetum? It seems there are some opportunities here for some creative plant combinations.