stats

Monday, November 7, 2011

Grasses, Glorious Grasses!

panicum blood brothers  930
Panicum 'Blood Brothers'
Wow, it's been a while since I posted anything...sorry! As I mentioned before, I caught a cold a few weeks ago that kinda sapped me. In addition, the past few weeks have been insane at work, leaving me a frail husk of a man in my off-hours! I finally caught up on sleep this weekend, however (thanks', partially, to "falling back"), and managed to get myself together enough for a real post! Hurrah! I've been meaning to do a post focusing on various grasses all summer, but never seemed to be organized enough...but here it is!

north border  925
Grasses and sympathetic perennials
I think when I first got interested in grasses, I was really most drawn to ones that weren't particularly hardy for me (back when I lived in Nebraska). I really, really wanted to grow Misanthus...but they really, really didn't want to grow on the farm for me! Over the past few years, however, I've become more and more enamoured of our native grasses. During my recent trip back home to Nebraska, I was practically overwhelmed at being surrounded by all the amazing grasses that I had, of course, lived with most of my life. I guess it's a case of taking the things you see every day for granted.

Now I find that the grasses I love the most of the ones that were the main components of the tallgrass prairies I grew up surrounded by. Panicum, Schizachyrium, Sorghastrum and Andropogon. Of course, variety is the spice of life, and I wouldn't be without the non-natives either...but I've found renewed interest in these four groups...and the activity of breeders in the past few years have given us some amazing new garden-worthy cultivars.

panicum shenandoah  684
Panicum 'Shenandoah'
I can't express how much I love this little Panicum. In more sun, it would have been a column of rich red by now, but in my part-sun garden, it's coloring is quite a bit more modest. Nevertheless, it still maintains its form (very upright...no flopping) and manages to color up nicely (if subtly). Even if it isn't quite as vibrant as it should be, it provides wonderful structure and movement to the garden. This was its first full year in my garden, and I plan on reducing the water it gets next year by at least half (by fitting the drip hose with a lower output emitter). Eventually, this portion of the garden (with a few exceptions) should only need to be watered very infrequently.

Panicum shenandoah 4
Panicum 'Shenandoah'
In mid-summer, this Panicum starts to throw out its tiny little metallic pink flower. While not as flashy as some grasses, they are produced in such a quantity, that there almost seems to be a pinkish haze hovering over them. I love how they move in the wind, and they provide a nice textural contrast to their more solid neighbors.

panicum blood brothers  928
Panicum 'Blood Brothers'
A new Panincum introduction that caught my eye earlier this year. Introduced out of Canada, this might be the single most beautiful red-colored Panicum I've ever seen (in person). I spotted a trio of them at Portland Nursery this summer. Although I had no idea where I would put it, I bought one on-the-spot. I got it home and kept looking for a place to put it...all the while, thinking about the other two I'd left behind. Not one to let something go easily, I went back the next weekend...and they were still there! I snatched them up without hesitation...still, with no idea where I'd put them! I finally moved a few things around a few weeks later and they are now situated right next to our front walk. I can't begin to describe how beautiful the coloring is on these. Their leaves have the same powdery-blue cast as 'Heavy Metal', but is brushed over with deep red highlights. The effect, when viewed straight on, is blue with purple highlights. When backlit, however, they are a veritably feast fo the eyes...more like stained glass than grass! I can't wait for these to bulk up and really make an impact.

pancium northwind  636pennisetum redhead  913
Panicum 'Northwind'Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Red Head'
'Northwind' is one of the loveliest of the Panicums, if, for no other reason, than for it's superb form. It stands bolt upright all season, providing wonderful structure. In the fall, it colors up earlier than many, turning a wonderful, vibrant gold. The color last seemingly forever. Now we focus on a different grass group, the Pennisetums. I've always loved these grasses, and there are quite a few to explore. One of my new favorites, purchased just this past fall, is 'Red Head'. It's habit is much like most Pennisetums, rounded and arching...wonderfully textural...I can never seem to walk by without reaching out to caress the leaves.

pennisetum redhead  931
Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Red Head'
The blooms of 'Red Head' and a wonderful reddish-purple upon first opening, darkening to near-black at the base. As they age, they bleach to a soft beigy-tan. The benefit of this over the very similar 'Moudry' (of which I already had several) is that it blooms so much earlier, adding, literally, months of bloom time.

pennisetum tall tails  875
Pennisetum orientale 'Tall Tails'
This is unlike any of my other Pennisetums, mostly due to it's impressive size! It somehow manages to get 6+ feet tall every year. Starting in mid-summer, it starts flowering...with enormous, foot-loot pink tapers. Unfortunately, it seems unhappy in its current location. I think it needs both more sun and space. I'll be moving it next spring into the North parking strip, which will hopefully provide both.

pennisetum karley rose  917
Pennisetum orientale 'Karley Rose'
'Karley Rose' was actually my first Pennisetum. I saw it in bloom at a flower show and fell in love with those pink-tinted blooms. This is actually one of the very first grasses to bloom in my garden, starting as early as June. I absolutely adore the effect it has on the garden...unfortunately it flops badly for me (hmmmm....seems the Orientale-type Pennisetums have more tendancy towards flopping). I know it doesn't get as much sun as it wants...but I love it where it is, so am resigned (at least for the time being) to staking it up.

pennisetum hameln  932
Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Hameln'
I'd say if there was a standard Pennisetum, this is it. Although some may view it with disdain (being a key component of so many mall parking lot plantings), I love it. It provides invaluable structure and texture for such a long time in the garden. Even before blooming, the mounded form is great...and the blooms (which emerge in mid to late summer) are the icing on the cake. I love the way they catch the light...and again, are such a tactile element in the garden. Beginning in early fall, the leaves start to turn bright yellow...giving the whole plant a wonderful two-tone, glowing effect...like the entire plant is shot-through with gold fibers!

schizachyrium blaze  910
Schizachyrium scoparium (Little Bluestem) 'The Blues'
If there is one grass that I could somehow magically plant in everyone's garden...it would be Little Bluestem. Native to a huge portion of the continent, it's pretty much amenable to any condition you throw at it...with one condition...full sun. Sadly, as is the case too often in my garden, it doesn't get enough sun and proceeds to flop over like a sloppy drunk in September. I'm planning on moving it to my north parking strip next year, which should give it not only full sun (or the closest I'll ever get in this location), but also better drainage. I've seen them planted in full sun with probably no irrigation and they look AMAZING for it. The foliage emerges the most delicious powder-blue and forms a mostly-upright, arching clump for most of the summer. Come late summer, however, it stretches almost straight up with it's flower stalks. Right around this time (depending on weather) it also starts to color up. This is where it gets interesting...the colors are the most indescribably beautiful mix of pink, purple, orange, red, yellow and blue...it's crazy-beautiful! The color continues to intensify right up until frost. To see one of these grasses in the right sight, lit by the angled autumn sun is truly wonderful. I plan on adding more next year...of a different variety. I've been researching and apparently there is a newer variety called 'Blue Heaven' which has all the strengths of 'The Blues' without it's weaknesses (tendency to flop). In addition, 'Blue Heave' is supposed to get 4' tall! Sign me up!

molinia moorhexe  862
Molinia 'Moorhexe'
While I've always been intrigued by the taller varieties of Molinia ('Skyracer' and 'Transparent'), I'd never really given much thought to the smaller varieties until my recent trip to Wind Dancer Garden this fall. I was captivated at the nursery, however, by their amazing color and form. They are practically transparent...but provide a subtle scrim of color through which to see other plants...just love them!

miscanthus malepartus fluffy  860
Miscanthus 'Malepartus' blooms when dry
This is the very first plant (along with the neighboring Eutrochium 'Gateway') that I planted in my garden here on Rhone Street! I've always loved Miscanthus, but, let's face it, there are probably WAY TOO MANY on the market! I remember going to the nursery and being overwhelmed by the variety of Miscanthus cultivars...and really, without seeing them full-grown, how can you really make a good decision! Anyway, I lucked out by picking this variety that I'd never heard of. 'Malepartus' is a large Miscanthus...not for the faint of heart. The leaves are wider than many popular cultivars...looking to my Nebraska-raised eyes like a very open, fine-leaved clump of corn! Thats not to say it isn't lovely...because it is!

miscanthus malepartus in rain  846
Miscanthus 'Malepartus' blooms after rain
'Malepartus' emerges earlier than almost any other plant in my garden and quickly grows to form a beautiful fountain-shaped clump. The movement and texture of this grass are truly breathtaking. The blooms emerge a rich ruby-red...which always surprises me...they compliment the nearby Eutrochium perfectly...and case of lucky positioning, if ever there was one!. Sadly, it's a bit of a flopper for me...so I'm forced to corset the poor thing right around the time it blooms.

miscanthus malepartus  858
Miscanthus 'Malepartus'
'Malepartus' also has the added virtue of amazing autumn coloring. It's just now starting to really attain it's wonderful golden hue.

miscanthus purparescens  904calamagrostis sunny  894
miscanthus purpurascensCalamagrostis 'Karl Foerster'
Miscanthus purpurascens is far smaller and more delicate than 'Malepartus', and is sort of nondescript for most of the year...which is not to say that it's not a handsome grass...but it's not terriby showy. The white, frothy plumes are quite nice...and really catch the light nicely. It's the fall color, however, that makes this grass truly garden-worthy. In my garden, they start to color right about the time the Rudbeckia goes to seed. The color is a wonderfully rich, warm gold (with hints of reddish-orange). It colors up quite a bit earlier than most other plants, so looks like a flaming torch in the garden! Calamagrostis 'Karl Foerster' is one of those grasses that I can't imagine gardening without...it's so very reliable...and manages to ALWAYS look good!


calamagrostis sunlit  872
Calamagrostis 'Karl Foerster'
'Karl Foerster' is another grass that probably suffers a bit from overexposure...being used to widely in commercial landscapes. It does seem that when landscapers want "an ornamental grass", it's going to be good-ol' 'Karl' about 90% of the time. However, this is another case where common does not equal bad. 'Karl' deserves our admiration...in every respect. Being a cool-season grass, it's up and growing before most others...even before many perennials. This is a great benefit to the garden, since they don't leave a big hole in the garden while they get going. Also, they bloom as early as June, far earlier than most grasses. The tall, narrow spikes last all summer, fall and winter...looking great right until you cut them down in late winter/early spring (as new growth is starting).

calamagrostis avalanche  877
Calamagrostis 'Avalanche'
While I love how narrowly upright the blooms of Calamagrostis are...I also like how they arch outward when drenched with rain. Luckily, as soon as they dry out, they spring right back up again!

sacharum ravannae  922
Saccharum ravennae
Something of an anomaly in my garden is this semi-tropical-looking giant grass...also known as hardy sugar cane and hardy Pampas Grass. You can hardly beat this grass as a specimen plant...it's just huge. For most of the summer, it's a large fountain of long leaves. This is actually my favorite aspect of the grass...it's very graceful and demure for its size. The individual blades are really long (like 5-6') but all arch gracefully out from the center of the clump. Not heavy-looking, the blades dance in the slightest breeze...looking like ribbons caught in the wind...absolutely love it!

sacharum ravannae  923
Saccharum ravennae
As fall approaches, Saccharum stretches up it's blooming stalks...which seem to top 10' in my garden...so tall that they are hard to capture well in photos. The stalks are kinda fabulous by themselves. They are covered in fine hairs and are blushed with red...really striking. In my garden, the blooms so far haven't quite opened completely. In warmer climates (and with more liht, probably) they would be large, open panicles of pinkish-silver. Still...I'd grow it just for it's form alone...it's that good!

muhlenbergia capillaris  891
Muhlenbergia capillaris
Now for something very different...Pink Muhly Grass. I first discovered this grass from Nan Ondra's book, Fallscaping...which, if you've never read, you MUST! While this grass is pretty nondescript for most of the year, staring in late summer/early fall it sends up dozens and dozens of stems topped with pink blooms. By the time it's in full blooms, the entire plants seems to be engulfed in a haze of pink...it's truly breathtaking...and so unexpected, both from a grass, and at this time of year.

Muhlenbergia capillaris
Muhlenbergia capillaris
Here you can see a close-up of the flowers...each bloom is tiny...but there are so many produced that you get a wonderful, cloud of rich color!

east garden  886
As I wrap it up, here's the front (East) border...

north border  888
...and the side (North) border.

panicum blood brothers  929
Panicum 'Blood Brothers'
And I close with another shot of 'Blood Brothers', just can't get enough! And now I'm off to visit the blogs that I've been unable to for the past few weeks...woo-hoo!

41 comments:

  1. You use grasses so beautifully in your garden, Scott. They mix so well with the flowering perennials. I just sorry I can't grew pennisetums over here except in pots. Bu the star of the show in this post is "Little Bluestream". What a colour! Now I wonder if that would do here....

    ReplyDelete
  2. All I can say is WOW, what stunning photos. Don't you love the pink muhly grass? It is all over the place in Florida where we just returned from vacation. Seeing it is one of the highlights of our trip every year. We call it the "gay grass". hehe I planted some in our garden but it didn't make it. I should be able to grow it because Frances at Faire Garden does well with it and she is even farther north than us.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wow, you've got a lot of grasses in a small space. I just did a post on a couple of my favorite grasses, as well, Pink Muhly being one of them. You've got some Miscanthus that I have not heard of. I just got the Karley Rose fountain grass last year and it has done really well for me, even in our brutal heat this summer in TX. Grasses are just so easy -- they are hard to beat for almost 12 months of interest in a garden. Just whack them back in the spring and you're good to go. The color on the Blood Brothers is gorgeous!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm with Phillip: WOW! You're inspiring me to plant a whole new texture garden. Thanks for sharing...

    ReplyDelete
  5. Plant Blue Heaven! It's a great plant. I might be slightly biased though since I know the breeder...

    ReplyDelete
  6. Amazing shots... and you are indeed very knowledgeable about these grasses... impressive... hope you are well now...

    ReplyDelete
  7. Great post!It makes me want to go out and get some more. With our drought a lot of my grasses turned brown because of their small root system. However, bamboo muhly looks great. Love your photos and your garden is beautiful!!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Scott, your grasses are fabulous! We share several of them but that Panicum Blood Brothers is not one I have heard of. I just put in Panicum Ruby Ribbons which is smaller and supposedly turns red in the summer. I also put in Molina Moorexe this summer so I am anxious to see how it does next year.

    Eileen

    ReplyDelete
  9. Great info on grasses! Love all your varieties, but the pink muhly is just beautiful. I've thought about adding this to my garden, but not sure where to place it. Blood Brothers is amazing!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I am curious if you've ever actually counted how many grasses you've planted in your garden?

    Love the Pink Muhly, I saw some blooming at a nursery in Prescott, AZ, the sun was behind it and the whole display was just glowing. I tried to capture the moment but doubt I succeeded (still haven't looked at all the vacation pictures). It's nice to see that it likes you garden...perhaps I'll need to work some in next year (along with that Panicum 'Blood Brothers'!)

    ReplyDelete
  11. I now feel thoroughly up to date on some of the best ornamental grasses around. An amazingly good post, Scott.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Your grasses and grass photos are stunning. I wonder if we could grow that Panicum 'blood brothers' here. If they had called it 'rainbow' I would not have been surprised. The shot of the north border is chock full of interest- I can imagine how hard it is to work with such a slope and you have done a wonderful job. This post has made me want to branch out from my run of the mill grasses.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Scott,
    Another amazing post! I am definitely just getting in to grasses and this post was more in depth than the book I am reading (so far anyway). Thank you!!

    Where to start... I honestly like them each best, depending which I am looking at. I need to spend some time thinking about how I incorporate them into my current garden design, which is tricky given my space limitation. Mind bending for me. I think I will try to pick up Nan's book - thanks for the recommendation!
    Julie

    ReplyDelete
  14. What a great amount of wonderful photos and information. Glad you're feeling better.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Loved all the grasses--such good info. Will bookmark this post for future reference.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Glad you are feeling better. Thanks for all this wonderful information on the different grasses you are growing. I have been drawn to grasses the last year, this info is very helpful. Your gardens and placement of grasses are eye catching.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Great post on Grasses, Scott! I share your opinion that the native prairie grasses deserve more attention. We just need a few more garden designers to show their potential!

    ReplyDelete
  18. What a wonderful selection of grasses you have. I am partial to the panicum's as they are so understated. The fall gardens are looking great!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Great post and thanks for introducing me to all of these glorious grasses!

    ReplyDelete
  20. I have only just started using grasses. I was, wrongly, under the impression that they would not 'fit' our herbaceous borders. The Panicum Virgatum Rehbraun changed all that. Is that the same as your 'blood brothers' variety? Looks similar. Names often differ across the pond. Someone once told me that Panicums are not that hardy. Do you find that?

    ReplyDelete
  21. Great post on grasses!! You've used them to such beautiful effect in your garden and your photos are amazing. I love grasses too and after seing this post will definitely have to add more!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Oh if only miscanthus would grow for me! I've got one pass along calamagrostis with pinkish leaves but by August the rain has beaten the flower heads down. You've a great selection of vertical planting Scott and they look very tactile too from those great photos.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Scott, that Blood Brothers is stunning! Not available in my Country yet but I hope it will soon.
    This post is magnificent, I really enjoy every single word, nodding silently.
    I must give a try to schizachyrium scoparium, you teased me.
    Aren't you planning to move too much stuff in the north border (which looks pretty filled up)? I think moving a plant in your garden is kind of solving a sudoku: you move one and you have to replace the other, and the other... :)

    Alberto.

    ReplyDelete
  24. The structure and color of the 'Northwind' is beautiful! I love the contrast of its color against the fence. Glad you're feeling better and able to get back to your routine. I'm with Jenny, I'm inspired to get out of my grass rut! Mine this year are sad looking with the heat/drought combination but I'm just sure it has to rain eventually!

    ReplyDelete
  25. What exquisite fall colors you get on your grasses! My Schizachyrium 'The Blues' turns grey; Karl F. stays green year round. Just like real estate: location, location, location.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Hi Scott,

    Beautiful photos! I love all your grasses and really wish they were all hardy here. I've protected my tender grasses but I'm doubtful they will make it through winter - one can only hope!

    I'm glad work has calmed down for you now :) Time to start enjoying the festive season!

    ReplyDelete
  27. All are incredible, but Blood Brothers and Bluestem are standouts! Especially through the lens of your camera and your expert photography. Wish I could grow more tall grasses in the shade. Amazing, Scott!

    ReplyDelete
  28. I think somebody has a grass obsession, but who cares. They are all beautiful and hard to resist. I should send you some of my ‘Dallas Blues’ Panicum. It has wide power blue leaves and large purple panicles and turns yellow and copper in the fall.

    Sadly, I removed most of the Dallas Blues and Indian Grass from my garden this year because they expand so happily/aggressively and they are a lot of work to clean up in the spring. I can’t get rid of the Little Bluestem though. Love that grass. I suspect your floppy Little Bluestem problem is due to a combination of too much moisture and too little sun. Your planned relocation should help.

    ReplyDelete
  29. The photos, the info - well played, sir!

    ReplyDelete
  30. Wonderfully comprehensive post, Scott! I can't understand how you have room for all these grasses - from your descriptions of your lot, it doesn't seem possible. And yet, here you show so many, and beautifully, too. 'Karl Foerster' may be common but because of its size and noted early growth, I love it for striking summer/fall privacy screening. I have a number of yours, but you've given me a few new grasses to covet for my garden, as well!

    ReplyDelete
  31. Hi Scott, Glad you are feeling better. This is a wonderful post! It took me awhile to get through it, because I was so occupied copying down all your recommendations. I adore so many of the plants you have shown that I am going to blow my spring purchase money on grasses.

    ReplyDelete
  32. I love your selection of grasses and how you combined them in your garden with perennials. :)

    ReplyDelete
  33. Wow, so you have all of these grasses in your garden? They're beautiful, and this is quite a nice collection of grass photos. I know what you mean about realizing that Nebraska formed your love of grasses without you realizing it. I had the same thing happen with California, where I realized that dormant yellow grasses looked really beautiful to me and so forth. Now I can't even understand when people aren't into grasses.

    ReplyDelete
  34. This fellow Northwest gardener to the north needs some advice. I have a circle driveway, in the middle is a huge old 20 foot madrona snag and a bunch of odd perennials and a few bulbs.

    It's become a weeding hell, and now I have this brilliant idea of mowing it all down, except the madrona stump, and adding a vigorous ornamental lower growing grass to envelope the entire circle. Any suggestions? It's sunny and relatively dry in the summer. I'm thinking: http://www.monrovia.com/plant-catalog/plants/1077/blue-dune-lyme-grass.php

    ReplyDelete
  35. Janet: Thanks! They really do make other plants look even better…that little bit of foliage contrast does wonders…I'm thinking the Little Bluestem should do well…it's VERY hardy :-)

    Phillip: Totally! The Pink Muhly is kinda amazing…it's such a surprise to suddenly have this (fairly plain) grass erupt into fabulous pink bloom!

    Toni - Signature Gardens: I'm totally going to check out your post now…love grasses! Yes…they are tough and beautiful…if you have a problem spot, chances are there is a grass that will solve that problem…and look good doing it ;-)

    Kate/High Altitude Gardening: Yay! I hope you do…and I'd love to see it!

    Tom: Hahahahahahahaha…I'm totally going to…everything I've seen about it makes me drool with lust…maybe your friend could "donate" a few plants for me to trial ;-)

    Lrong: Thanks so much…yes, much better!

    Amy: So sad to hear you had some browning…did they bounce back this fall?

    Gatsby Gardens: 'Ruby Ribbons' is beautiful…I've seen it in nurseries and it looks just fabulous. 'Blood Brothers' is a pretty new introduction…and I have only seen it at that one nursery (and I bought them all)!

    HolleyGarden: If you have a sunny spot that gets a bit of moisture…Pink Muhly will be happy (as long as it's hardy in your zone). I've found that it responds well to a little extra water…seems to increase the blooms.

    Loree/danger garden: Hahahahaha…counting can be a dangerous thing! I realized a while ago that I'm ALWAYS trying to cram more grasses into the garden…I have so many mounding plants that I really need the structure grasses provide. The Muhly grass is so amazing in large groups…but I agree, hard to capture well…I hope to see your photos…and would love to see how you'd use it in your garden!

    Denise: Thanks…I do try ;-)

    Lancashire Rose: Go for it! I think it'd do well for you as long as it gets a smidgen of water (once established, they are pretty drought-tolerant).

    Wife, Mother, Gardener: Yay…I hope you found some grasses worth trying out! Also…Nan Ondra has a book focusing specifically on grasses, it's definitely worth looking up…I refer to it often :-)

    Lynette: Thank so much…and yes, feeling MUCH better!

    Sue: Glad to know you found it so useful!

    Darla: Thanks so much…I find that grasses seem to make any vignette in the garden more effective :-)

    Paulette Phelan Kelly: Absolutely! There is so much untapped potential for their use…I would love to get together a display garden somewhere here in Portland…to really show people their true potential.

    Patty: I agree…they are so very lovely without being in-your-face crazy!

    Anonymous: Any time!

    ReplyDelete
  36. Petra Hoyer Miller: I think a lot of people are a bit hesitant to try grasses, but once they start, it's hard to imagine a border without them! I think your Panicum is pretty similar to 'Shenandoah' and 'Ruby Ribbons', although, honestly, there are quite a few red-tinted varieties these days…and they are all pretty similar! Panicums are actually super-hardy…to at least zone 3 or 4 and once they are established are extremely drought-tolerant :-)

    sweetbay: Yay…I hope you do!

    leavesnbloom: So sad you can't have Miscanthus…but at least there are lots of other grasses to try! I don't have trouble with my Calamagrostis drooping down…but the Pennisetum orientale can definitely be a problem…they don't seem quite as sturdy.

    altroverde: You MUST try Schizachyrium…they are smaller than many grasses, but are so very beautiful…I'd recommend 'Blaze' or 'Blue Heaven'…'The Blues' is beautiful…but had a tendency to flop. I'm definitely in Sudoku territory…and will actually be digging up our parking strips next spring/summer to fit stuff in ;-)

    Cat: Oh yes…I'll cross my fingers for some rain for you…hopefully your grasses will recover once they get a good soaking!

    Hoover Boo: So true…location makes all the difference…and the weather…the first year I had the Schizachrium it was kind of a dud…but ever since then has colored up well.

    gwirrel: I know well the pain of plants not being hardy for me (growing up in Zone 4…eek!) I'm actually trying a few grasses next year that are hardy to only Zone 8 (which we technically are here in PDX), so we'll see if I have to sing the blues the following year if they don't return!

    PlantPostings; They are beautiful grasses, aren't they! I know how you feel…I have far less sun than most of these actually like (hence the flopping or a few). Luckily, I seem to have JUST enough to at least keep them going!

    Bluestem: Hahahaha…I guess you could call it that! Of course, I'd never stop you from sending me more grasses ;-) Isn't Bluestem the best…I just can't get over it…there is something magical about those colors…especially as it changes from season to season. Good to have your corroboration about the flopping…I'll be moving them next spring into a MUCH sunnier/drier spot :-)

    Liza: Thank you, kindly!

    MulchMaid: Hahahaha…you are not far from the truth…some of them are definitely crammed in there! I agree totally about 'Karl', it offers such invaluable height/structure in the garden…especially since I have so many plants that are soft and billowy.

    Jennifer@threedogsinagarden: Glad you found the post useful…I always feel like I should do more shorter posts, but I always end up spending more time doing these long mega-posts! I hope you get LOTS of amazing grasses next year…can't wait to see what you choose!

    Racquel: Thanks so much…I do tend to play "musical chairs" to find just the right place for things ;-)

    ryan: Absolutely! Isn't it funny how much our youth affects us later in life…even in ways you wouldn't expect…I agree about dormant grasses…that wonderful golden yellow…stunning!

    ReplyDelete
  37. tom @ tall clover farm: How exciting…I love that idea! That Blue Lyme grass would definitely fit the bill…but can be a bit of a bear (they spread quite a bit once established). If I were you, I'd plant Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium)…probably 'Blaze' if you wanted something short (I think it tops out at 2' with the blooms. It's super drought-tolerant once established (the roots actually go as much as 12' deep!). Also, it offers multi-season interest. The colors will change from blue-gray-green during summer to blazing orange-red in autumn, finally fading to a lovely pinkish beige during the winter…and the fluffy white seedbeds look AMAZING during the winter…they glow in the sunlight (what little we sometimes get!). Again, totally just my opinion…I've seen large clumps of the Lyme grass….and the blooms stalks do tend to look a bit "messy". If you look around online, you can even find places that sell plugs of Little Bluestem in bulk…saving you LOTS of $$$. Let me know what you decide to do…I'd love to see the result, regardless of what you choose!

    ReplyDelete
  38. Have been away from home for a few days with only a notebook for company so waited until I returned home so that I could see this post on the big screen! Exquisite photos as usual Scott and some excellent information. I now have some grasses to investigate further especially 'Blood Brothers' as well as a book to look out for. Thanks muchly for sharing all this with us :)

    ReplyDelete
  39. I need to get that Panicum 'Blood Brothers'. Great post and exquisite postcard worthy photos, Scott!

    R

    ReplyDelete
  40. Here in Minnesota Little Blue grows EVERYWHERE, and I think is taken for granted. What a phenomenal essay on grasses, your photos are fantastic!

    ReplyDelete
  41. Scott your suggestion is now my preferred option (no surprise here). I'll be looking for online resources this week. Thanks -- awesome awesome awesome

    ReplyDelete