September 08, 2007
Miscanthus sinensis 'Gracillimus'--Click on photo to enlarge for maximum viewing pleasure!
Now is the time when grasses shine. They are at maximum height and the flowers are emerging. Shirl over at Shirl's Garden Watch and I have decided to coordinate our grass blogs and we hope that many of you reading will add your comments and let us know if you are posting about what is going on with grasses in your gardens. Plants unite us all and it will be fun to see how similar and how different each of our garden grasses grow.
I am drawn to grasses. The sound, the colors, the motions of grasses are enticingly inviting. Back lighting with morning or evening light creates drama and grasses can provide enclosure and privacy. Large drifts are also dramatic in a sensual, primal way. It seems that every year there are new grasses to choose at the nurseries or garden centers and then there are those that I have tried and failed to grow successfully. I usually give a plant three chances for success and then I forget about it and move on. I have failed with Imperata cylindrica 'Rubra' or Japanese Blood Grass which prefers good soil which doesn't dry out. It seems to like it just fine at this nursery and is put to good use in this effective display garden.
This grass is called Pennisetum 'National Arboretum' and it looks nice here in the container but in the landscape it looks like this with beautiful plumes of deep chocolate. This stands about four to four and a half feet high.
Another grass which I do not have in my garden is Miscanthus sinensis 'Zebrinus' which I find a bit gaudy.
I expect to see a lion or giraffe around this grass.
It does show up well from a distance and stands a good six feet tall.
This is Miscanthus sinensis 'Variegatus'. It is a spectacular grass at over six feet tall and four feet wide. I don't have any yet but it is on the list.
Now for the grasses which I do grow and, in spite of three weeks without rain, they are looking fine. The first grasses that I put in the garden were the ones near the fish pond. In the spring the pond looks like this and now that the grasses have grown to full height there is a sense of enclosure which actually makes the space by the bench seem bigger. Pictured here behind the iris are on the right, Miscanthus sinensis 'Gracillimus', Maiden Grass, and then right behind the girl with the watering jug there are three Miscanthus s. 'Purpurescens' which are a bit shorter and have a red coloration to the stems in the fall. Here is another
shot of the Maiden grass. I think this is my favorite grass. At least today it is! This is a better shot of the M. S. 'Purpurescens' which is flowering.
On the right of the patio there is a stone bench with these Panicum behind it. There are two types, Panicum virgatum and then the P. V. 'Heavy Metal' which is a good steel blue. The Heavy Metal tends to flop over. Does anyone have any idea on why that would happen? It is in full sun and decent soil.
Molinia caerulea arundinacea 'Skyracer
On the corner of the house there is this Molinia 'Skyracer'. Tucker is sitting in for scale. This is a great see through plant as the dense foliage is only about two feet tall and the flower heads can reach at least eight feet. Just in front of Tucker, on the corner of the 'left handed mitten garden' there is this Carex 'Blue Zinger' which is a sedge but looks like grass as many sedges do. It is very blue and has great texture.
I have another Molinia here in the long island bed. I really like this plant for its' golden variegation. Next to it is this Chasmanthum latifolium, Northern Sea Oats. Mine is not quite flowering and I had taken this one a couple days ago at The Good Earth Garden Center so it is standing in to show the flower heads. The seed heads on it are interesting.
In the pool area I have planted Elymus arenarius and while it is a pretty, steely blue, it runs rampant without organization. I think it would be better off in a container where it can be controlled! Fountain grass is also planted in this area and it is starting to flower. I enjoy all the Pennisetums and the wish list includes a hardy red form. How can that be so hard to come by? I know the plant breeders are working on it!
I do have the Festuca glauca here although it is not looking great. Miscanthus s. 'Morning Light' also needs to be lifted and replanted as there are plants entwined in it and it is looking a bit weak.
That concludes the cast of characters in my garden plus a few potentials. All pictures were taken within the last three days. I hope that you will consider joining Shirl and me in our grass posts. Please leave your comments on your favorite grasses and if you do have a web site, leave a comment either here or over at Shirl's Garden Watch so we can share our ornamental grass experiences.
p .s. There are some great videos over at Ellis Hollow blog which you can access here.