Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Beginning of Grass

Miscanthus sinensis 'Morning Light' planted with fallen over Heliopsis helianthoides 'Prairie Sunset' and Verbena bonariensis.

This is the time of year when my love affair with grasses begins.  In the beginning of my gardening experience I could not understand why any rational gardener would ever plant grass. All day long I weeded grass out of the gardens. When I moved to Vermont I started gardening with some grass fanatics and my eyes were opened to a whole new world. VERY reluctantly I brought home divisions- particularly reluctant because the very process of dividing a grass makes you never want to grow it! I wouldn't even put them in my "real" garden, so I stuck them in a holding bed. Over the years I have filled my gardens with the various grasses, from my first favorite Miscanthus, to the numerous cultivars of Panicum (I cannot get enough!), to Schizachyrium, Calamagrostis, and Chasmanthium. 

Grasses are massive, or can be, and yet they actually act as a see through screen, they block a view but also permit a view. I love when their blades brush, fall, weep over into other plants- and the plants mingle and intermix. I love the colors of grass, starting in the spring with those young fresh, green shoots that turn to burnt orange, purplish and silver. Late bloomers, they come out now as the sun gets lower and lower in the sky and the light catches the feathery plumes of Miscanthus, the tiny spindly blooms of the Panicums, and when the breeze picks up these clumps swirl and sway in the wind. Then finally, in November when most of the garden is totally spent, the blooms stand tall and silvery and the light still catches them and they shine like never before.

 Miscanthus sinensis 'Purpurascens'

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