Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Great Grasses - Achnatherum calamagrostis
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.
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.
The blooms start out green, and resemble long, recurving, silky tassels.
When blooming, there are very open and airy...extremely delicate-looking.
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!
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.
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.
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.