Articles in Category: Grasses

Muhlenbergia 'Fast Forward'

on Friday, 21 August 2020. Posted in Winter Interest, Deer Resistant, Grasses, Flowering Plants

Pink Muhly Grass

FFSome ornamental grasses – Miscanthus ‘Adagio’, Andropogon ‘Red October’, Calamagrostis ‘Karl Forester’, Panicum ‘Northwind’ – are known for their big, bold, structural presence in the garden. These grasses practically beg to be put front and center, and used as a focal point. Other grasses are more subtle and delicate-looking in their appearance. Muhlenbergia ‘Fast Forward’ falls in the latter category.

Muhlenbergia ed‘Fast Forward’ is a truly graceful ornamental grass. It’s finely textured, with bluish-green foliage that grows in a tidy clump; about 2-4” tall by up to 3’ wide. As attractive as the leaves are, though, the inflorescences are what makes this a stunning addition to a garden or border. Plants begin blooming in late August, and the lovely pink inflorescences create a soft haze of color that seems to float in the air. This grass is really effective as a backdrop for other shorter perennials, or massed in a clump. If you can put it somewhere where it will be backlit by the late afternoon sun, that’s even better!

Muhlenbergia ‘Fast Forward’ provides you with both color and texture in the garden, as well as an element most gardeners rarely think of: motion. Fine blades of grass and inflorescences dance slowly in an afternoon breeze; adding a soft vitality to your garden bed or border. These plants are also deer resistant, and do well in full sun.

Like most ornamental grasses ‘Fast Forward’ browns out during the winter. We like to leave the grass blades and flower heads standing all winter: their silhouette provides some lovely visual interest in the winter landscape, and the foliage will help protect the grass from heavy rains and unexpected cold snaps. Cut it back in early spring (late February through early March), when you start to see new growth push through last year’s faded vegetation.

Agave neomexicana

on Friday, 13 January 2017. Posted in Winter Interest, Evergreen, Deer Resistant, Grasses, Drought Tolerant

Hardy Agave

agave neomexicana in snow

Hardy Agaves capture us like no other plant. Their almost mathematical geometry is mesmerizing, and they are tough as nails. One of the true survivors on our property- managing the dips in temp to 0 degrees Fahrenheit in 2013 and the foot of snow in 2017 with not a speck of damage.

The two main hardy Agaves that we enjoy growing are Agave parryi which is a bit more pinecone shaped and Agave neomexicana which is a bit more open. They both are blue in tone and have decorative - but nasty - thorns. They require sharp drainage and seem to do best planted in a mound. We amend the soil with 1/4" gravel or larger decomposed granite and use it for a mulch as well to keep soil away from the crown of the plant.

Agave in bloomAgaves do best in full sun and can look striking in a container. They require little water once established, their fleshy roots are good at growing deeply into the soil. One sharp poke to the nose and deer will know to leave these desert plants alone. These two species are hardy to at least zone 7, if not zone 6. Once they get into the 2' wide range there is the possibility of them making a flower spike and then dying, but they have usually made pups by then which will carry on the Agave torch. You'll want to make room for these gems in your drought tolerant garden!

Stipa gigantea

on Monday, 12 July 2010. Posted in Winter Interest, Evergreen, Deer Resistant, Grasses, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

Giant Feather Grass

stipa-gigantea

In the quest for evergreen ornamental grasses, the Giant Feather Grass provides the evergreen green blades, but the thing that makes this grass a standout is its 6' tall blooms that shimmer in the evening light and last much longer than most ornamental grasses.

The 2-3' tall clump of foliage can be cut back in the winter to refresh it or left alone to have a permanent presence in the garden. Blooms start emerging in May and retain their good looks until frost starts to beat them up and need cut back. Besides that, there is no maintenance needed for this grass and the inflorescences rise dramatically above other perennials or shrubs.

Stipa gigantea is drought tolerant in well drained soil, deer resistant, heat tolerant and has interest all year long. They look wonderful as a single accent or could be massed for a naturalistic garden. By the way, it doesn't seed around like its cousin- Stipa tenuissima or Mexican Feather Grass. It's difficult to photograph the quality of the light as it shines through the blooms, but come visit and we'll show you!