stats

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Red Heads To The Rescue!

Pennisetum Redhead
I don't know about other gardeners, but for me, Autumn is when I generally take stock of what's going on in the garden...assessing its successes...as well as its shortcomings (which always seem to outnumber the successes, for some odd reason)!

Every year I garden in this location, I learn more and more about what does and doesn't work...so I'm constantly moving things around, whether it be a place that gets more water, less water, more light, less light, etc. While our mild climate here in Portland can be more forgiving than in many other places, "Right plant, right place," is definitely one of my gardening mantras!

Over the past few years, it has become more and more obvious that there were a few plants that, no matter what I did, no matter how many chances I gave them, were repeat offenders. They were floppers.

east border from north  1893
Pennisetum 'Karley Rose' was one of the first plants I planted in my garden...and I've seen them elsewhere looking stunning. Sadly, my garden doesn't have the sun she needs to keep upright. Here, in early summer, she is gorgeous...and I love the color and texture she contributes to the garden.

karley before rain  2894
Here...probably in August or so, she's already flopped over and I've tried to prop her up...but she's obviously been partying too hard...and keeps falling down.

karley rose  2885
Ugh...and here she is in September...really, Karley, really??? I don't think this looks good to anyone. Luckily, I found a new home for Karley...one with the sun and good drainage that will make her a highlight of the garden...not an embarassment. Of course, I waited until it was about to pour rain on the day I removed her...so I got to make a huge, muddy mess...the sidewalk still has the muddy tracks from my shoes ot prove it.

pennisetum and sumac  2344
I decided months ago to move Karley, but what to put in her place...hmmmm. For the longest time, I went through plant after plant in my mind...but in the end, realized that I really wanted something like 'Karley Rose'...but one that kept that gracefully arching form all season...without falling apart. Enter Pennisetum 'Red Head'.

pennisetum red head  2330
'Red Head' is one of my new faves...it blooms far earlier than the similar 'Moudry' and maintains it's form much better than any of the Pennisetum orientale hybrids I've tried ('Red Head' is a Pennisetum alopecuroides hybride...which are much sturdier in my garden...for whatever reason). I love the full, cascading habit it acquires after a few years...and those nearly-black, fuzzy blooms...LOVE THEM!

I'm realistic with myself...this front slope has the worst soil and weirdest light in my garden...so time will tell if 'Red Head' fares any better than poor 'Karley Rose'.

ugh  2339
Another plant that has tried my patience for the last time this year was Schizachyrium 'The Blues'. It looks great all summer until it starts to send up its long blooming stems...then FLOP. This is another plant that needs GREAT drainage and FULL sun...which isn't going to happen in my garden...like, ever. Luckily, Carolyn Kolb, of Wind Dancer Gardens, introduced me to the new cultivar 'Blue Heaven' this summer, which was completely upright in the same conditions...which means I FINALLY get to have Little Bluestem in my garden...and it's not just an exercise in pure masochism. Out came 'The Blues'...but what to put in its place?

sunny fall  2320
More Pennisetum 'Red Head', of course! I pondered for a few weeks what to replace 'The Blues' with...but when I saw this 'Red Head' at Portland Nursery during their annual Apple Tasting that same weekend, I knew it was coming home with me. Having several of these in the front garden will also now help give the whole area a better feeling of unity, since there are several of the same plant repeated in the area.

pennistum red head  2312
What about all of you...have you made any revisions to the garden this fall...have any of you also been "editing" your garden?

40 comments:

  1. Those both look like great plants. I'm especially interested in Blue Heaven - I am also scheming to get little bluestem in my garden but don't have ideal conditions.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you should definitely give 'Blue Heaven' a try...my conditions are definitely NOT ideal either...but it's been VERY upright for me...which I'm trilled by!

      Delete
  2. Hi Scott,

    Beautiful photos; I really love how you combine all your grasses with your perennials.

    I haven't done any editing this autumn; the weather has been too poor to do anything compared to last year when I was still planting out in November. The work will have to wait until next year now.

    I'd love to have your Pennisetums but I don't think they'd survive here :(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh no, Gwirrel, that's no fun :-( I know what you mean though, some years the weather just doesn't cooperate, does it?

      Delete
  3. Love your new grass! I have the same problem with Karley Rose. I have her in a full sun western spot, and she still flops. I've cut her back in a lot of spots, but still have a couple that are flopping all over their neighbors. I haven't been able to get out there to work on it, with the rainy weather we've had. I also have a bunch of shrubs to move, and don't want to dig them up and move them until they've gone completely dormant. They still have some of their leaves. Good thing we can pretty much garden all winter, if we have to. I'm just going to do what I can.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's so true, Alison...it's nice to know we can pretty much work all year long if we really want to...I've moved things in the dead of winter and they survived!

      Delete
  4. I also have a hard time with Karley Rose, and it's not a sun issue for me. I think this is a grass that really needs a constant water supply, or maybe it just doesn't like clay soil. Whatever the reason mine is always a floppy mess too, and the leaves get attacked by some sucking critter so they're very spotted -- by the end of the summer they're mostly devoid of green. I haven't really thought about moving it, although I may take a division and try in a third spot.

    I'd love to try 'Red Head' but I've read that it reseeds as readily as 'Moudry', so that won't work for me. Stupid Moudry.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. UGH...sad to see that it's not just me that has trouble with 'Karley'...it's hard to say what the deal is with her...I've seen others around town looking fabulous...so annoying! You are probably wise to avoid 'Red Head'...I've never had either re-seed for some reason...but I've seen your posts on all the seedlings you get!

      Delete
  5. Editing my garden? It's all I do! lol

    You have a wonderful variety of grasses in your garden.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I love the grasses and yes, I`m constantly changing things. I agree, some great grasses there.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad to see I'm in good company...sometimes I think I must be a little TOO neurotic for my own good ;-)

      Delete
  7. Hmmm...flopping is one of my pet peeves and due to lack of full sun grasses are some of the worst offenders. A quick google search indicated P. 'Red Head' is hardy for me and I love Pennisetums so I'll have to look for it next spring.

    Garden revisions are ongoing here. I call it "plants on wheels". Due to time contraints I do most of the plant moving in the spring using notes I make now. When something lasts in one spot for a couple of seasons I feel pretty damn good about it :).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You should totally get it, Sue...it's stunning! Hahahaha...I agree...I move so many plants around, the few that stay in one spot seem like amazing successes!

      Delete
  8. I read with great interest on your assessment of Karley Rose, I planted three small ones in the front of our neighborhood. Ours are in full sun, so hopefully it will not flop over. Like that it blooms so early and has the pink seedheads.
    As for revisions in my garden?? Hmmm....I have removed the Phlox subulata from the front garden. It looks so ratty in the summer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope yours do well, Janet...because they really are one of the most stunning grasses when they are happy.

      Delete
  9. Nothing more annoying than flopping ! This year I scored a couple of those expensive fancy schmancy peony rings , a freebie cast off ..I was so proud of myself for using one of them on Aster frikartii ( serial flopper) early enough to actually make a difference. Couldn't even see the ring in summer , and no flops ! Serious edits are on going here, this is the year of mature (10 year plus) shrub removal.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's the tricky part, isn't it...preventative staking...I'm getting better...but there are some things I still wait too long with :-( Oh man...shrub removal...that's going to be intense!

      Delete
  10. Like you, I can't tolerate floppers either. Hope your new choices work out well for you as the plants mature. I think I'm pretty much rid of the floppers here now also. I find once I have things perfect I all of a sudden change my whole theme though. :)
    Cher Sunray Gardens

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hahahaha...isnt' that the truth...we can't quite help ourselves!

      Delete
  11. I'm with you the upright plants look so much better.
    With my garden at the moment it is all one way traffic, that is plants being removed. Whole beds are being cleared ready for the fun re-planting / re-design next spring.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. OMG...that's so exciting, isn't it...all the possibilities...with no mistakes (yet)!

      Delete
  12. I am constantly moving things around. I have a similar problem with shade mostly caused by my fence. The grasses havee a hard time staying upright with the fence for a backer. I moved many plants this fall and can still see some that could use a different location. I haven't seen Redhead in my area, just Karley.

    Eileen

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So true, Eileen...that's what I deal with a lot...it's an on-going battle to try to keep things from falling all over!

      Delete
  13. My 'The Blues' flops terribly too. I never should have bought it without talking to you first!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ARGH! So annoying! Then again, you never know where it will be well-behaved...I've seen them at Joy Creek...totally upright...I think they must have some form of sorcery at work ;-)

      Delete
  14. Happy belated Bloom Day! Scott, your garden is absolutely gorgeous. Love visiting your site during Bloom Day. Thank you so much for sharing it with everyone.

    I have to agree with sweetbay’s comment above. It seems like editing is all I do on the Lot! ”Right plant, right place” has recently been shared with me through a gardening course I am taking. It makes complete sense. My late winter / spring edits will be fueled by that newly introduced mantra.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Isn't it the best way to go...even though sometimes I lose sight of it...if we just work with our conditions, instead of against them, we're better off...and our plants are happier!

      Delete
  15. I am going to look into Red Head if it can live in our zone. It is a nice looking plant. You asked about changes. A big one in my garden in a few weeks. I am removing the Concolor as it was only a temporary tree that I got from the farm and saved from being a Christmas tree seven years ago. This year it becomes a Christmas tree. The front bed perennials will be rejoicing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow...that's going to be a HUGE change in your landscape...I can't wait to see what you do with that space!

      Delete
  16. I have been through this scenario more times than I can count. In some ways it's fun to play around with plants but it's disappointing too. One alternative though is to pot up the plants that don't like your garden. Sometimes they will do much better in a pot.

    I hope you have a delightful, restful and fun Thanksgiving Scott.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a good idea, Grace...there are a few things I've potted up...mostly because I didn't know where to put them...we'll see how they do next summer :-)

      Delete
  17. I can see why you like 'Red Head' -- those blackish, fuzzy foxtails are irresistible!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Well I think your garden always looks stunning, Scott! That pennisetum is fantastic and looks just in the right place... Both of them! :)
    I have karely rose in a very sunny spot and it never deludes me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh man, Alberto...I'm so jealous that 'Karley Rose' does well for you...now I'm going to pout a bit ;-)

      Delete
  19. Hey Scott,
    So many times when I visit your blog I wish I could be there in person. Chuckled at "walked the cat. Talented bloody cat??? (as we say back in Australia)
    It's borders on obsessive but I take stock of the garden every day with a mind to the next year Thanks for sharing your journey within the grasses. Most interesting.
    I wrote a story ornamental grasses a fee years back and my three sources extolled the virtues of Prairie Dropseed. Now granted they were MW sources but you may want to check it out.
    Best,
    Patrick

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Patrick...I totally wish you could visit...it's be a blast! I'll have to keep an eye out for the Prairie Dropseed...I don't think I've ever seen it for sale around here.

      Delete
  20. The redheads are a great addition...and how kind of you to send Karley and friend to rehab. We all behave better when we are given what we need.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So true, Ricki...and I'm such a softy...I can never bring myself to just toss a plant onto the compost heap if there's another option :-)

      Delete