Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Great Grasses - Achnatherum calamagrostis

Grasses_AcnatherumCalamagr copy
I know what you're all thinking, "Another grass post, for real?" Yes...ANOTHER one...because this is Grass Season, y'all! Seriously, though, it's that time of year when, no matter what else is happening in the garden, my focus is always on the grasses.

One of the newer grasses this year (to me, at least) is Achnatherum calamagrostis, also known as Silver Spear Grass. I actually planted these last spring, after buying them at the Wind Dancer Garden booth at the Spring HPSO Plant Sale.

Acnatherum clump
I'm not sure what made me buy them, I've only ever seen them in a few books, but for some reason, they seemed interesting and different. They were small plants, and didn't do much that first year. As soon as spring hit this year, however, they were up and growing...and even started blooming in June, right about the same time most of my other cool-season grasses bloom.

Acnatherum detail
The blooms start out green, and resemble long, recurving, silky tassels.

acnatherum calamagrostis  2091
When blooming, there are very open and airy...extremely delicate-looking.

acnatherum calamagrostis  2092
As they finish blooming, they actually enter their most beautiful phase...they morph into these light, fluffy seedheads...you know you want to brush them!

acnatherum calamagrostis  2084
Unlike most cool-season grasses, which bloom all at once in the spring...this grass blooms continuously throughout the season. Even now, it's sending up new blooms. This creates the fascinating effect of having flowers in all stages of development on the plant simultaneously.

acnatherum calamagrostis  2085
Achnatherum calamagrosts wants well-drained soil in full sun, which, of course, it doesn't really get in my garden. I've been so impressed by it this year, however, that I plan on moving it into the front garden next year, right near our front entrance. I want to have it where I can see it every day...and where it will catch the morning and evening sun.

acnatherum calamagrostis  2082
Achnatherum calamagrostis gets about 3' x 3', and should be hardy down to Zone 5! The only place I've found it locally (the Portland area) is the aforementioned Wind Dancer Gardens, outside of Salem (which is SO worth the drive). Otherwise, I believe High Country Gardens sells it via mail order.

If you ever have the opportunity, get this grass...you won't be disappointed! It is not only graceful, but very easy to please...mine manages to be stunning, even in far less-than-ideal conditions. While a single plant is a beautiful specimen, I can imagine that a grouping of them would be truly spectacular.

46 comments:

  1. Late summer to autumn are where most grasses are looking their best, so why not highlight another very nice one :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So true...and there are more to be featured in the near future ;-)

      Delete
  2. A beauty indeed. I love your photos and my purse hates your yard-LOL!! Another on the list of "wants". Gorgeous!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hahahahahaha...I know that feeling...totaly plant envy!

      Delete
  3. Very pretty one. The plumes are lovely and delicate looking.
    Cher Sunray Gardens

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aren't they...they are so light and fluffy!

      Delete
  4. Love if only they had more exciting grasses in Sydney, sigh. I will just have to drool over yours. Thanks for sharing

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Any time...and I'll send good grass thoughts your way ;-)

      Delete
  5. I've always admired this one in photos but I seem to recall it's not extremely winter hardy in colder climates. Do you know?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me too, James...it's one that I never expected to see for sale...so was SO excited to find it locally! I believe it's hardy to Zone 5, based on the Nursery website (and a few books I double-checked just now). I've updated the post to show that info...which I SHOULD have remembered to include originally!

      Delete
  6. So pretty. You know how much I love grasses. I'll read your grass posts anytime. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yay for the grass lovers, Dee...we're kindred spirits!

      Delete
  7. Looks pretty among those impatiens-looking blooms.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Anna...those Impatiens are a bit thuggish...but luckily, the grasses don't seem to mind ;-)

      Delete
  8. So nice! Disappointed to find that it doesn't like high humidity and places where it doesn't get cool at night (like here in St. Louis). I may give it a try still...

    I think you've got a typo on the genus name: it should be Achnatherum (with an 'h'), shouldn't it?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Doh!!! You're so right, Alan...I ALWAYS spell this one wrong...thanks for catching it!

      Delete
  9. Oh man, now I want this one too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It will be yours! You shall not be denied!

      Delete
  10. It's very beautiful, only thing is does it flop after a rain? The habit is so curved, which is attractive, but looking at it makes me nervous it will fall over.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You know, Jason...I'm not sure...I haven't had it with the plumes on it while it rains yet...so we'll find out soon enough! I would imagine that if grown in enough sun, it should be fairly upright.

      Delete
  11. Entirely under-rated! Another great pic! The British are using this much more in than we are and to great effect.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Totally...they really have a level of, dare I say, "sophistication" that hasn't quite reached this side of the pond.

      Delete
  12. That's exactly what I was thinking, but that's great! I'm getting ready to replant an eroded slope with ornamental grasses--so any ideas I find are appreciated. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think these would be beautiful on a slope!

      Delete
  13. I think this could be the tiny sprout I discovered growing in my panicum grass last year, I had to dig the panicum up to separate the two, looked odd with the different bloom. I did replant it though, I hope it is this lovely grass!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aha! It could very well be! I hope you let us know for sure what it is, once you know!

      Delete
  14. The grass looks gorgeous with those beautiful pink flowers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree...and, OOPS...I forgot to mention what those were...they're Impatiens balfourii

      Delete
  15. Gorgeous, this would look great in just about any combination, and hardy to Zone 5, must find this one

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You should totally get it...it's fabulous!

      Delete
  16. I don't mind another grass post. I love grasses, especially in their season of pumping out the flowers. Nice photos of them too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly...it's Grass Time right now...and I'm enjoying every minute!

      Delete
  17. Grasses are irresistibly photogenic: post away, please!

    Some neighbors had a fabulous display of common-but-fabulous Pennisetum setaceum 'Rubrum' that looked great paired with blue Agaves. Just before I went to take pictures, their gardener pruned the grasses into cubes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree...I am always trying to really capture their beauty. OMG...into cubes...that's horrible!

      Delete
  18. The availability of grasses is such a nice addition to the Portland and Oregon nurseries the past ten or fifteen years. I still recall starting landscaping back in the 1980's, when it was practically just blue fescue and pampass grass that were discussed at Portland Community College in the landscape program.

    One added benefit of the grasses, is that several provide options to give other gardeners gifts by dividing them. Something not as easily done with Rhododendrons, trees, etc.

    Cheers,
    MDV

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can't imagine what that was like...although, that's usually what you see in people's yards! So true about dividing them...I hadn't thought of that!

      Delete
  19. I love this one... perfect for the evening sun photos for sure. Thanks for the feature!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Isn't it lovely...I can't get enough of it :-)

      Delete
  20. These is one of a kind of grass. Its so picture perfect. I can't stop scrolling at the photos.
    bean bags melbourne

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I totally agree...it's a real beauty :-)

      Delete
  21. Nice Scott, I'm looking for a fancy grass to plant in mass, in my driveway circle. Currently every noxious weed in King County is rooting there. Thanks for another stellar suggestion, and keep 'em coming.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hahahaha...that spot sounds familiar...sort of like my backyard before we finally wrangled it ;-)

      Delete
  22. Great photos of a beautiful grass!

    ReplyDelete