A Switchgrass Followup

In yesterday's post on propagating switchgrasses I left out the picture of the 'Northwind' Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum). Also I didn't post any details about the two switchgrasses that I mentioned. So here's a little more about switchgrasses! Switchgrasses are native to the United States and flourish during the warm season. In my observations they are later to emerge from winter dormancy than other grasses like miscanthus. 'Shenandoah' Switchgrass grows between 3 and 4 feet tall and is one of the shorter varieties of panicum available for ornamental use. The two 'Shenandoah' switchgrasses I have in our backyard gardens are different sizes even though the plants started out the same. The taller of the two fits in the between 3 and 4 foot range but the other one is much shorter and also has a smaller width. I believe this is due to the sun conditions which favor the larger 'Shenandoah'.…

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Seven (More) Switchgrasses

Today I potted up seven rooted sections of switchgrass (Panicum virgatum). Four of them were 'Shenandoah' which gains a reddish coloring in the leaves in late summer and fall and three were 'Northwind' which has a taller and more upright shape. Switchgrasses are definitely "where it's at" when it comes to ornamental grasses today. They are native plants and aren't invasive. To make things even more perfect ethanol producers have been using switchgrass as a substitute for corn to produce biofuels. Not a bad plant by any means! Because it's a native it is well adapted to our weather and should be able to survive random periods of drought like we've been having lately. (Only .3 of an inch in the last two weeks - not fun for the gardener or the garden!) Since these are such great plants to have in the garden I decided to increase my stock…

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I Have to Admit it, I Really Do Like My Lawn…

I have to admit it, I really do like my lawn. The "in" thing right now is eliminating lawns by replacing them with gardens. That's great idea that I fully support but it just isn't feasible when you have a large yard. The other option is letting areas become meadows which I think is pretty cool too (and for one section of my yard I'm working on a wildflower path garden) but the vast majority of our yard will be grass for some time. Certainly there are advantages to eliminating lawn areas but I believe you can keep a lawn in good shape and still be environmentally friendly. Those who support eliminating lawns tell us that fertilizers poison our waters, the increased pollution from mower emissions threatens the environment, and lawns can be water hogs which reduces available water in areas where water is in short supply. The lawn eliminators…

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Cutting Back Miscanthus in the Spring

Among many garden chores that come in spring perhaps the biggest is the trimming of the ornamental grasses. Trimming back perennials can be time consuming but the ornamental grasses can be a bear. It's not the tiny little hair-like strands of the Nassella tenuissima (Ponytail grass), or the tall and narrow 'Karl Foerster' Feather Reed Grasses. The panicums aren't a problem either, both 'Northwind' and 'Shenandoah' switchgrasses are relatively tame. The muhly grass is very cooperative. It's the miscanthus. I know someone is probably thinking "Dave shouldn't plant that, it's invasive" and you would be right, it is and I shouldn't, and I won't - at least not anymore. I'm switching to the panicums as a replacement for miscanthus but I still have to tend the miscanthus I have even if I never add another one to the landscape. Pruning an Ornamental Grass Trimming back an ornamental grass is fairly…

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Encased in Ice (Tennessee Snow Storm of 2010)

They were right! There, let it be said that the weather predictors and prognosticators said we were going to have snow and we did. Unfortunately the manner of snow and the amount of snow differed from what the forecast originally said (which was 2-3 inches at one point). Currently we have between 4-6 inches of snow with a nice smooth layer of ice on top just to make things interesting! The ice isn’t good for getting around town and we’ve been stuck at home (nothing new since we are boring people and don’t do much anyway) watching the snow fall. What the ice is good for though is pretty cool (sorry for the pun). Sledding was the main attraction of the day with our slope in the backyard becoming a valuable asset. Several neighbors joined us outside on the hill at various times to ride down my version of the…

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Miscanthis Sinensis Tassels Waving in the Wind

Though it is listed in the invasive plants list for Tennessee the very quality that makes Miscanthis sinensis so invasive makes it fun to have in the garden, the seeds!  Ornamental grasses of all kinds add great fall color interest with their seed heads or tassels that wave in the wind. This particular variety is 'Zebrinus' or Zebra grass. If you are looking for a nice substitute for miscanthus that is also a native try switch grass (Panicum virgatum). I've added two switchgrass varieties this year to the gardens: 'Shenandoah' and 'Northwind'. Both of which are worthy plants in the landscape but are a little different in appearance than miscanthus. 'Shenandoah' has a nice reddish tint to its late summer and fall foliage with clouds of seeds. 'Northwind' is a strong upright plant with green foliage and airy seed heads. 'Shenandoah' is in our back garden near the greenhouse and…

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Raindrop Garden Photography

Rain has been ever present in our garden for the last two weeks it seems. Even the "dry" days are still wet when you consider the soggy ground and grasses you have to walk through to get anywhere. Today I thought I would share a couple pictures that are enhanced by the rain. Raindrops on Clover Clover is one of those "lawn weeds" that I actually like having around. It's green during the cool season, it adds nitrogen into the soil which in turn feeds the grass, and it gives the bunnies something to eat other than my plants! Raindorps on Muhlenbergia capillaris The third picture is of raindrops that have collected on the seed heads of our Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris). It's a great native ornamental grass for the fall garden. The reddish tinted seed heads put on a fantastic display when planted en mass like Frances planted them.…

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The Miscanthus and the Big, Big Sky

Picking a photo for Gardening Gone Wild's Photo monthly contest was a challenge. The subject matter for September is ornamental grasses. I took photos of the grass leaves, the seed heads, and from different perspectives and finally settled on the first picture of the Miscanthus sinensis 'Zebrinus'. I liked the second picture of the seedheads because of the similar orientation of the seedheads.Miscanthus and the Big, Big SkyMiscanthus sinensis 'Zebrinus'I like the arcing blades of grass in front of the blue sky and the clouds in the background. What do you think? Does the cloud in the sky resemble a man with a beard? Feel free to click on the picture for a larger view if you need to!Synchronized SwayingMiscanthus sinensis 'Zebrinus'The wind was blowing the seedheads back and forth. What I found interesting was the synchronicity of the grass seeds.

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The Rain Garden Photos

Early last year I put together a rain garden in our yard to absorb some of the driveway drainage. Here are a few pictures of how it looks now! Inside the garden we have a variety of perennials that are generally carefree and tolerate a wide range of growing conditions. Plants like coneflowers. Echinacea purpurea is having a perfect year here in our garden. If we change our focus a little we can view the gladiola. One of the few summer blooming bulbs I've added to the gardens. They look really nice when they stand upright but have a terrible tendency to topple toward the turf! Those little green bamboo stakes would be good to help stake them up if necessary. The pale pink blends nicely with the purple of the coneflowers but the gladiolas look great all by themselves as well. Asclepias tuberosa or orange butterfly weed is a fantastic, easy care…

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Ponytail Grass (Nassella tenuissima, Stipa tenuissima)

Ornamental grasses are definitely something special to add to the landscape. They add texture, height, and a much needed contrast to flowering plants and wide leaved foliage plants. Ponytail grass (Nassella tenuissima) is a great ornamental grass to choose for many gardens. It goes by several common names like Mexican Feather Grass, Silky Thread Grass, and the aforementioned pony tail grass. It's a beautiful grass planted next to hardscape areas especially around rocks. Recently I revamped my parents fence garden using some plants I purchased for Mother's Day as well as some that were preexisting in the landscape. The ponytail grass was one that they purchased last year but didn't have a location for it. They overwintered it in the garden until I moved it for them into the newly remodeled garden (I'll show you tomorrow)!  When ponytail grass is backlit by the sunlight it looks fantastic as it billows…

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