Saturday, November 14, 2009

For the Love of Grasses

As our warm November continues, and the leaves have mostly fallen, I am thankful for grasses.  Yes, ornamental grasses have been hugely popular for the last decade.  However, I think deservedly so. At this time of year, few things are still standing and offering color, screening, and sound nifty in the breeze.  There are hundreds of ornamental grasses out there, so you should be able to find one to suit you. 

Grasses occur naturally in every situation from sun to shade and moist to dry.  Our native woodland sedges offer a quiet beauty or in the case of the bur sedge, dramatic seed heads.  Sedge (Carex) likes to be in some shade and a bit of moisture.  For full sun, Japanese silver grass (Miscanthus) offers plenty of punch, but be prepared for it to spread sometimes.

Illinois is the Prairie State, and while our pockets of remaining prairie are slight, I think we still long for that view of endless grass.  I'm a fifth generation flatlander, so I love the open sky overhead and being able to see the next county from the slight rise of glacial moraine.  Our native prairie grasses can be more than six feet tall like big bluestem or more dainty like little bluestem.

If you have a corner that needs softening, ornamental grasses just might be the low maintenance solution.

Miscanthus in fall glory.

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