Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Nursery Visit - Wind Dancer Garden

Wind Dancer Header
A few weekends ago, my friend Heather (Just a Girl With A Hammer) and I visited Wind Dancer Garden outside Salem. It's no big secret that I'm obsessed with grasses, and that I LOVE Wind Dancer. For me, a trip there is like a trip to Disneyland. *Disclaimer...I've never actually been to Disneyland.

Deschampsia vignette h
Right as you pull into the driveway of owner Carolyn Kolb's home & nursery, you can tell this is someone SERIOUSLY in love with grasses...the display gardens are an inspiration, to be sure.

Vignette
Around every corner, you'll find inspired vignettes like the above...made even more glamorous by the rich, warm light of this particular September afternoon.

Grass pathSedums
Curving paths in the display garden beckon you onward to even more grassy goodness!

Display Gardens 2
Carolyn has a deft hand at garden design...her gardens just seem so "right", they feel utterly at home in their setting, so in tune with their surroundings. At every turn, different grasses and companion plants...there is such a feeling of verdant contentment here.

Grass Mass
Even the retail area is full of beauty, as here with layer upon layer of grass blooms.

Now, while most nurseries these days will carry at least a few grasses, Wind Dancer carries a MUCH greater variety. You'll be hard-pressed to find ANY sort of Molinia at a general-purpose nurseries...here, there are at least half a dozen!

Purple Panicum Panicles
From a distance, the reddish panicles of Panicum 'Cheyenne Sky' are a rosy haze, up close, they are like tiny metallic beads. There has been so much effort in breeding red-tinted Panicums in the past few years...and this is one of the most striking new varieties I've seen.

Panicum seedheads 2
The seed heads of Panicum 'North Wind', however, are fuller and more golden. 'Northwind's claim to fame is its rigidly upright habit...it grows in an amazingly tight, vertical clump...so great for narrow spaces.

Pennisetum Red Head v2
I just love how they almost-black seed heads of Pennisetum 'Red Head' stand out against a wash of the finer-textured Bouteloua 'Blonde Ambition'

Bouteloua
The same plants, but from the other side of the bed. Carolyn says that this Bouteloua is one of he best-selling plants this year, and it's easy to see why! I'm totally trying to figure out where I can squeeze one in next year.

Deschampsia & CaryopterisCanna
Believe it or not, before I saw Deschampsia growing in this very garden a few years ago, I had never thought much of it...now I think it's utterly stunning. I think those tawny seed heads are absolutely magical...and so fitting for this time of year.

Achnatherum calamagrostis
Here is one of my favorite new grasses. You may remember my gushing post on this grass, Achnatherum calamagrostis earlier in the year. Of course, I got it here last spring :-)

molinia cordoba  2226Pennisetum Burgundy Bunnies
The grass on the left was new to me, Molinia 'Cordoba'. According to Carolyn, it's much like Skyracer...but better! Of course, I got one :-) On the right is one of Carolyn's favorite new grasses, Pennisetum 'Burgundy Bunny'...which I'm kicking myself for not picking one up. I have a container that would be PERFECT for it!

Calamagrostis brachytricha
For some reason, Clamagrostis brachytricha has been one of those plants that I've wanted for years, but just never seemed to actually GET. This time, one of them came home with me. One of their biggest selling points, aside from those stunning blooms, is that it is one of the few true grasses that can cope with shade.

Calamagrostis Karl Foerster
Of course, you have to have a few Calamagrostis 'Karl Foerster'!

Little Bluestem
Believe it or not, this photo doesn't even come close to showing the luminous beauty of this Schizachryium (Little Bluestem). I believe this variety is 'Blaze', which is so amazing in fall for it's rich, brick-red coloring.

Miscanthus
I'm always amazed at how much variation there is between varieties of plants, even those in the same family. These Miscanthus blooms, for instance, are much finer and more delicate than those I usually see around town.

Molinia blooms
For a more sheer effect, you can't go wrong with Molinia.

Molinia cordona
Aside from their airy seed heads, one of my favorite aspects of the various Molinias is the coloring of their stems. Here, you can see warm gold...

Molinia strahlenguelle
...here, a bit of coral and plum are mixed in...

Molinia
...and here are others, flushed beguilingly with burgundy.

Panicum
Futher along, various Panicums (Switch Grass) set the area ablaze with Autumn color.

Panicum spikes
The warm red tones of Panicum 'Shenandoah', still, after all these years, one of my favorite red-tinted Panicums.

Panicum & Schizachyrium
Of course, the newer red Panicums are stunning as well, such as this 'Cheyenne Sky', with its amazing mix of reds, oranges and purples...all the colors of autumn embodied in a single blade of grass.

Pennisetum Red Head Backlit 2
Seeing all these grasses used in different situations and varied lighting gives a great idea of how they will work in your own garden. Take Pennisetum 'Red Head', above. When backlit, the blooms glow with a rosy-red light...

Pennisetum Red Head h
...but when seen front-lit, they are nearly black!

Pennisetum spatheolatum
There is so much amazing variety in these grasses...how can you not love the delicate wands of Pennisetum spatheolatum...

Pink Panicum Panicles
...or the jewel-like blooms of the various Panicums?

Red Head in situ
Can you resist the soft bottle-brush texture of Pennisetum 'Red Head'?

Retail 2
Even the retail section of the nursery seems like a prairie in miniature!

Retail Grasses
Nothing captures light and motion in a garden like grasses!

retail
And the color...rich, warm, earthy color!

So, if you live around Portland and you like grasses, you own it to yourself to take a trip out to Wind Dancer...and now is the best time to see both the grasses themselves and the marvelous display gardens!

Blue Heaven Morning
Oh, and the last grass I purchased is my favorite of all...but nearly impossible to capture well in photos. Its Schizachyrium 'Blue Heaven'...and the picture above doesn't even come close to capturing its beauty. It's the most delectable mix of purple/pink/orange/red/blue/yellow at the moment...like the colors of every sunset in your memory distilled into one plant. How's that for descriptive hyperbole!

76 comments:

  1. Just magic! I definitely need to pick up some of these at some time.

    If you're not growing Little Bluestem, you are missing out on an amazing little grass. The Fall color is fantastic! (I grow 'Blaze' and seedlings from it -- not sure if they come true or not, but seems like it).

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    1. Totally, Alan...I have a few Little Bluestem, including those newly-purchased 'Blue Heaven'. I have 'The Blues', which, sadly, I may have to get rid of next year, as they flop horribly for me, just as they start to bloom :-( I just bought 'Blaze', mostly to see if it stays more upright. I agree about their fall color...it's pretty unbelievably amazing!!!

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  2. I kind of want to take you to Disneyland now. I PROMISE THERE WILL BE SNACKS THIS TIME.

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    1. Hahahahaha...I just have to be smart enough to actually eat them! I guess you can lead a horse to the water... ;-)

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  3. Oh, I just loved this love letter to ornamental grasses! So many to choose from, and all so fabulous! You've captured the colors and ornamental qualities of OGs so well in your wonderful pictures. What a great nursery. I think I would go mad there trying to choose.

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    1. It's fabulous, Alison...and yes, I spent quite a while wandering around...trying to narrow down my choices!

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  4. Wow I'm not even a huge "grass gardener" and you've got me wanting to grab my keys and hit the road. The two different pictures of Pennisetum 'Red Head'...lovely!

    Now, when are you going to visit Disneyland?

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    1. Hahahahahahaha...I think I may be slightly too old for Disneyland ;-)

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  5. Drool. Absolutely beautiful. I've never seen the Bouteloua before, love those sideways flowers. I have the first couple of flowers on some Panicum virgatum 'Shenandoah' that I sowed in the spring - by next year they will hopefully have some serious impact. Some small Andropogon scoparious 'Prairie Blues' also sown in the spring are starting to think about changing colour too - again I have high hopes for them next year (already I love their blue grey summer foliage).

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    1. I think your garden is going to look amazing as those grasses mature...they have AMAZING fall color...and just add so much texture & movement to the garden...not to mention great winter interest :-)

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  6. WOW! Grasserific! That was like the best sales pitch for grasses I've ever seen--your photos are oozing with beauty. I can't wait to see more pics of your Schizachyrium 'Blue Heaven'.

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    1. OMG...I literally take dozens of pics of 'Blue Heaven' every day...trying to capture it's beauty...especially since now that fall is upon us, it seems to be changing color every day!

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  7. That first picture just blew me away.

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  8. It's like Disneyland? Where are the people dressed up as cartoon characters?

    Seriously, those pictures are just beautiful. Growing more and different grasses is definitely on my to-do list. I have a few species, all but one native, but there are so many beautiful grasses in those pictures it's hard to know where to start. There is only one genus I know that I don't want, though - Miscanthus.

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    1. Well...not quite...but the roller coaster was pretty good ;-)

      I have a few Miscanthus...but they are definitely not my faves...one really is enough. There are just so many other amazing grasses out there, why settle for something that everyone else already grows, right!

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  9. BIG WOW ! I`m a grass freak , too, and that place and those picsa are just wonderful ! Thanks !

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    1. Randy...you'd lose your mind here...so many grasses you just cannot find anywhere else!

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  10. Beautiful photos. Even I'm tempted by those grasses!

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    1. Hahaha...then my mission is complete ;-)

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  11. OMG!! That was fantastic! Everyone needs to read this blog and see these gorgeous photos to really understand and appreciate ornamental grasses! What a treat!

    Thanks, Scott!

    R

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    1. Thanks so much, Riz...it's a fabulous nursery & garden...and I really think anyone who is even remotely interested in grasses needs to go. We are so amazingly lucky here in the PNW, not only with the amazing range of plants we can grow, but the astounding variety of nurseries that feed our obsession ;-)

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  12. Holy freaking crap, Scott. My blood pressure is way up, thanks to your plant-lust-inducing photos! Stunning! A friend of mine was just showing me her 'Burgundy Bunny' Pennisetum that she got a Wind Dancer a few months ago. It's on my to-die-for list. I must have it. The plant you bought, Little Blue Stem, is a favorite of mine too.

    What a fun trip you must have had. And this time of year is perfect with grasses at their best. What do you make of all this sunshine? Wonderful isn't it?

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    1. OMG Grace...you really MUST go!!! I know, I'm totally kicking myself for not getting at least one 'Burgundy Bunny'...but now I have another reason to visit next year, right ;-) Maybe we can get a group together and go all together :-)

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  13. The quality of your photography leaves me speechless; it is that superb.

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    1. Awww, thanks so much, Allan...glad they were up to snuff :-)

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  14. I'm a grass person too. Wish I had your photo skills to go with! My most recent purchase was in fact Panicum 'Cheyenne Sky'.

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    1. OMG...I'm so jealous!!! I seriously think next year I'm going to get some 'Cheyenne Sky', they are sto utterly stunning.

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  15. This is just unadulterated plant porn. I'm practically foaming at the mouth over your photographs and descriptions, Scott! There is no alternative but that you WILL write and illustrate an article on your favorite grasses for Pacific Horticulture. You make every one of these grasses so compelling!

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    1. Hahahaha...from your lips to the Editor's ears, Jane!

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  16. My, you were waxing poa-etic today! And what a great name for a nursery heavy on ornamental grasses..."Wind Dancer". Says it all. And you're right up my alley with how well the meandering paths weave between displays and prominent uplifting of certain species.

    Just no Karl Foerster for me - they are everywhere that all our native grasses should be...blue grama, sideoats grama, cottontop, etc. Can't wait to see the Little Bluestem I used at my old office space...incredible in winter!

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    1. Ba-dum-bum! You are actually so right, David...as useful as 'Karl Foerster' is (and I have my fair share of it, believe me) I sometimes wish I could wave a magic wand and replace all of them around town with different grasses, Panicum, Little Bluestem...you name it! I think a lot of people aren't interested in grasses in their own gardens because they don't know that there are more than the 2 or 3 options you see in every commercial landscape these days.

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  17. Grasserific is a great way to put it! No one photographs grasses as well as you do, Scott! Anyone not convinced of their merits before visiting your posts is sure to be won over! Incredible!

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    1. Thanks...so glad you like the post...and I can only hope to convince everyone out there of the merits of grasses :-)

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  18. Great post and photos. How fortunate you are to have such nurseries near you. You're right about Calamagrostis brachytricha being shade tolerant. I took a few up two years ago and dumped them under a shady tree--never even planted them, just left them on top of the ground, and I noticed a few days ago they are blooming. So they're abuse tolerant too.

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    1. Haha...I love that! It's good too, because mine are going into a particularly awful spot where nothing else seem to really want to grow.

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  19. It looks like an incredible garden, and I'm sure she is delighted at the incredible photos you got of the various grasses. It's clear she's pretty great at gardening and planning, and that you're a master with the camera! Now I need to go out and buy myself some grasses, I guess!

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    1. It's a really fabulous garden & nursery...and I totally look forward to visiting each fall...it's such a treat :-)

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  20. Wow! Gorgeous garden and your photographs are always amazing! Having been to Disneyland, I think this place looks much more interesting!

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    1. Hahahaha...I agree, long lines and kiddie rides don't hold much appeal for me these days ;-)

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  21. Oh Scott, what gorgeous photos. You could put this posting into a book, singing the praises of ornamental grasses. The lighting on these photos is outstanding. Love the Cheyenne Skies photos, both of them. I have Shenandoah ....might have to find a place for Cheyenne Skies...wow!!
    Since we had rain yesterday, I am moving a couple of my grasses. Panicum Dallas Blues isn't good where it is and the Schizachyrium has reseeded, so the babies need to be moved to new locations.

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    1. Oh Janet, you'd love 'Cheyenne Sky'...it's beautiful! We are supposed to get rain today or tomorrow...and I'm chomping at the bit to move some plants around too.

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  22. Wonderful creative shots. Lovely post too and yes would not mind to add a few in my garden.

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    1. You should definitely go for it...and this is the perfect time for planting!

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  23. Scott, I so appreciate the posts you've done on grasses. I've gotten such a good education! And, to top it off, I've been inspired by you to add more grasses into my garden designs. Wind Dancer is a definite must visit for me soon! Cheers, Jenni

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    1. You really MUST go, Jenni...it's the best source around for unusual grasses...and Carolyn is super-sweet and a great resource if you have questions on which grass is best for your needs :-)

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  24. So much beauty, so little space...

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  25. IF I had been saving for a trip to Disneyland, I would be immediately be diverting those funds to a trip to this nursery...now where is that pennies jar?

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    1. hahahahahaha...you're a woman after my own heart, Ricki ;-)

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  26. I love your photos of the grasses. This looks like a beautiful place to visit too.

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    1. I definitely felt like a kid in a candy store :-)

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  27. Wow, it's like I drove south four hours but never had to leave my kitchen table and coffee cup. Stunning photos as usual Scott.

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    1. Hahaha...glad I could be your e-travel agent for a while, Tom ;-)

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  28. Wowzers...every picture...so captivating. Love it all....all....everything!

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    1. Thanks so much, Heather...glad you liked it!

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  29. I love this blog, I love grasses and the photo's are magnifique!

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    1. Thanks, Zem...there's nothing quite like grasses, especially at this time of year :-)

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  30. Thanks for sharing these shots, they are amazing. The blend of various colours is truly something and gives the garden a summery look.

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    1. It really does have the look of a lush meadow, doesn't it...I kind of just wanted to set up a picnic :-)

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  31. Wow! Soo Enjoyed your photos, Scott! Wish we had a nursery like that up here! Thanks for Sharing!

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    1. Thanks, Paulette...yes, we're quite fortunate to have such a nursery nearby!

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  32. That nursery is like grass heaven and you brought home a little bit of 'Blue Heaven'. Very nice.

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    1. Ha...very true! You'd love it there...so many amazing grasses to choose from :-)

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  33. Wonderful picturesque photographs. I am greeting

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    1. Thanks so much, Zielona...and thanks for visiting!

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  34. Nice post for sure. I looking for some ID on Panicum. I planted Panicum Dewey Blue two years ago and the seed heads have a rusty colored seedhead. Last fall I planted two plants of the same variety (according to the label), these plants have identical foliage color however the newly planted plants have a more blonde to gray seedhead. I'm wondering if they might be Dallas Blues? Any clue?

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    1. Hmmmm...could be...but I think (and I could be wrong) that 'Dewey Blue' is more arching...while 'Dallas Blues' is more upright to vase-shaped...and quite a bit taller. Also, I think the blooms of 'Dallas Blues' are a pinky-purple when they open...do you have a photo?

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  35. That place is full of captured light, isn't it? Or maybe it's really all about the skill of the photographer? Either way, I love your posts about this nursery. BTW, I've got a few Bouteloua 'Blonde Ambition' in my garden this year, and they are pretty cool. You definitely need to try it.

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    1. It really is...it's a photographers paradise, Pam! Glad to hear 'Blonde Ambition' is living up to it's reputation...I'm already plotting on a way to find space for one here :-)

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  36. There are so many ornamental grasses available, I don't think a lot of people realize that. I love the fluffy seed heads on the pennisetums

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    1. It's so very true...you really only see a handful of varieties in gardens (and in nurseries, for that matter), but there is a HUGE amount out there...you just have to look :-)

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  37. Gorgeous grasses and even more gorgeous photography!

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    1. Thanks so much, Deanne...glad you liked it :-)

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  38. what an amazing nursery. look at all those grasses, just inspirational and the photography is amazing, it really makes the plant "pop" :)

    happy gardening

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    1. Thanks so much, Michael...grasses always inspire me!

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