Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Have some grass, dude!

I've taken a step into a new subject area, native grasses, and found them fascinating. This is not what you mow on Saturdays, or find on athletic fields.  It's much bigger than that, sometimes 8 feet high.  These grasses can be huge, and make wonderful displays through much of the year.

Fountain Grass, Pennisetum alopecuroides

I've read about the American prairie grasses being so high that only a mounted horseman could see over the tops of the grasses.  But, I've taken the approach to look closer.

Varigated Miscanthus sinensis, Japanese Silver Grass

The textures and visual energy build as you look closer.  The structures create a cacophony that makes it difficult to find an individual grass stem, but it is possible.

Dew laden stalk of Variegated Miscanthus sinensis

In late August, the grasses are beginning to flower revealing some extremely beautiful scenes.

Grass in Flower

The flowers can be extremely small and sensitive to every wisp of the wind.

Tiny Flowers

In late August, the grasses are coming into bloom, and one of  interesting examples is Fountain Grass, Penisetum alopcuroidesThe delicacy of the flowers is matched by their colorfulness.

Fountain Grass, Pennisetum alopecuroides

This morning, after a night of steady rain, I found glass-like jewels of water on some of the flowers that captured my attention.

Grass Flower on a wet morning

In past years, I only thought of the field flowers- asters, gentians and goldenrod - in the late summer.  Now, I have a new realm to explore.  They  make wonderful, low maintenance plants for around the house and add real beauty from spring into winter. Check them out at a local arboretum.


Paul Schmitt

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