Fall is here at last in the PNW...and that means one of my favorite plant groups, the grasses, are really shining! This spring, at one of the zillions of plant sales I attended, I met Carolyn Kolb, owner of Wind Dancer Garden, located just outside of Salem, OR. She mentioned that I should visit the nursery in September, when it's really looking it's best. I kept that little invite in the back of my head all summer, and after the Fall HPSO plant sale, decided to make the trek down to Salem for a visit.
As we pulled into the almost-hidden driveway, I knew this was a garden I could spend hours in. Full of grasses and complimentary perennials, it was amazing! There were lots of winding gravel paths throughout the garden, which made for great vignettes. The curved paths are great at creating a sense of "discovery", you are always wondering what is around the next corner.
This large patch of Sedum 'Angelina' makes me realize how effective they are in a larger mass...especially growing around objects. I resolved to be patient while mine fill in over the next year or two...I WILL resist the urge to plant more...they WILL spread and fill in!
While, in general, I'm no fan of tropicals, I found their inclusion here to be very tasteful and fitting. These dark-leaved Colocasia were particularly fetching...and given my love of dark-leaved plants, may be something I "mimic" in my own garden someday ;-)
This photo illustrated one of the things I love about grasses, their scale! There is something magical about feeling dwarfed by plants...especially when you consider this growth all occurs during a single year!
Carolyn offers a design service, focusing, of course, mainly on grasses, and judging by the design of the gardens at the nursery, I'd say she has a good eye and a deft hand!
I can't quite figure out if this is a variety of Deschampsia or Molinia...either way, love that gauzy veil of flowers in gold.
I adore this pairing of two of my favorite Pennisetum, 'Red Head' and Pennisetum spatheolatum. The contrast in shape and size are just amazing, subtle and dramatic at the same time.
I noticed that the Miscanthus purpurescens at the nursery were coloring up far sooner than mine at home are...can't wait for them to start their fall transformation...there's a reason it's also called 'Flame Grass'!
Another photo showing that Grasses and Sedums were made for each other!
|I love how well the warm color of this Crocosmia works with the grasses, and offers a contrasting form to the more ubiquitous, flat-topped sedums.||The amazingly textural bloom stems of Pennisetum spatheolatum never fail to delight.|
Another vignette showcasing the wonderfully varied forms and textures of the grasses on display.
Of course, there are plenty of non-grass plants in Carolyn's gardens as well, like this charming and vibrant little Clematis.
Past the main display gardens are some of the more "private" gardens, including this arbor which leads into a veggie garden.
Gotta love the pumpkins!
|I always forget just how beautiful some veggies can be, like these cabbage.||This path leads around the back of the house to even more gardens!|
I loved this little vignette with the birdhouse surround with a patch of Echinops...so very charming...and love the sympathetic tones of the colors.
I'm always jealous of gardeners who have ponds...especially one as nice as this!
The gravel path around the house, hugs the side of the house. Love the mix of perennials and shrubs through this area. The Rudbeckia and Verbena bonariensis were putting on quite a show the weekend we visited...such a great, classic fall combination.
More Rudbeckia...I was also impressed by the tasteful placement of various pieces of art and sculpture in Carolyn's garden...very nice.
A parting shot of the garden, showcasing one of my faves again, Pennisetum 'Red Head'.
Now for the good stuff...the shopping!!!!! I could barely contain myself once I entered the retail space of the nursery. It's espcially difficult as I'm running so short of space on my tiny plot...and I was keeping in mind that for every plant I was going to buy, that meant more of the hell-strip I would have to tear up this fall...which is not the easiest of work...as many of you know.
I'm a firm believer that fall is the BEST time for planting grasses, for many reasons. Of course, they are easier to establish, not being stressed with heat and drought...and the cool weather promotes root growth, rather than top growth. For me, it's also a bonus that many of them are at their full (for the moment) size...so I have a much better idea of their scale in the garden. It's far too easy (at least for me) to cram things too closely together when they are little more than a sprig in a pot in the spring. When they are 6 feet tall, however, it gives me greater appreciation about how they will eventually settle into the space.
|Bouteloua, Calamagrostis, Pennisetum, Panicum, Schizachyrium...I want them all!||Although I'd ignored them in the past, the fall color of the Molinias brought me back again and again.|
I finally got a good look at one of the newer grasses that were introduced this season, Bouteloua 'Blonde Ambition'. I have been curious about seeing these all season, so was really excited to see a bunch of them together, to get a better idea of the effect they would have in a garden setting. All I know is that I'm definitely including them in my plans for next year's garden additions.
Can you believe THIS is the retail part of the nursery...it's practically a mini-meadow!
Again, this grass, Molinia 'Moorhexe', kept drawing me back...I was positively smitten by those pumpkin-edging-on-scarlet stems.
|Molinia 'Moorhexe'||Pennisetum macrourum 'White Lance'|
Pennisetum 'Red Head'
The last grass I got was this Pennisetum. It's very similar to a grass I already have in the garden, Pennisetum 'Moudry', the bonus of 'Red Head' is that it blooms MUCH earlier. In my garden, 'Moudry' just started blooming a few weeks ago, 'Red Head' is supposed to come into bloom months earlier...how can you not love that!
Of course, the sad part of this post is the poor grasses I had to leave behind. I've been working on garden plans for the rest of the hell-strips around the house for a while, and now have a very clear idea of which grasses I'm going to incorporate...so I know that a future trip to Wind Dancer Garden is on the docket for next year :-)