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Archive for September 14th, 2009

Oh, the subject for the Gardening Gone Wild monthly photography challenge, “Picture This”, is Ornamental Grasses.

As I said in a previous post, “Ornamental grass” is a subject after my own heart.  I have been dreaming of having a collection for several years.  One of the mainstays of the new Stroll Garden is the ornamental grass patch which I call the “Petite Prairie.”   This is the smallest prairie in the known universe.  I conceived of it as a visual barrier in front of the back beds of the stroll garden, supposedly to give  mystery to the path that winds away back there.   You are not supposed to be able to see what is around the corner, so that when you arrive at the bed of viburnums and spireas it will be a surprise.

I did a whole series of posts back in February about the formation of this series of beds. When we started the little prairie patch, I already had the nucleus of an ornamental grass planting growing out in front of the place in the wildflower strip that is no more.  I ordered a bunch more grasses this spring to add to the collection.   I have been enchanted with watching this brand new garden start to fill in a bit.  It will really be special in a couple of years when the large grasses have expanded and the shorter ones have filled in a bit.

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There are some grasses I moved into this garden from spots around the house.   The puffy ball of grass in front of the horizontal rock is one of those.  I have no idea what it actually is, it volunteered in the day lily bed about ten years ago  I liked the way it looked and it has proved itself to be non-invasive.

In addition to a couple of other volunteers I transplanted there, I have three kinds of Festuca glauca in the Petite Prairie:  Boulder Blue, Sea Urchin, and idahoensis “Siskiyou blue”. I ordered several pots of the nasellia grass, and when it came I split the pots in half so I doubled my starts.   I also planted blue avena grass, two kinds of blue stem, and a couple of varieties of switch grass.  There are some varieties of sorgastrum in the garden too.

My vision for the Petite Prairie is to display the amazing textures and colors of grasses in a microcosm of prairie ecosystem.  Prairies are notorious for their wonderful flowers, so of course I have flowers.  I have tried to limit the things I plant out there to things that I would actually find on a prairie, which is why the miscanthus and the Japanese blood grass got moved out of the prairie garden.   They are back in the corner by the pine trees, in front of the wild grape vines.  I call this area The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party.

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But back to the Petite Prairie.  So far I have three kinds of milkweed out there, in addition to the echinacea and the prairie coneflowers.   There are also lance leafed coreopsis, Deptford pink, Missouri evening primrose, agastache, Mexican hat, scutelaria,  a bunching goldenrod and silene “Praire fire” planted out there.  I aspire to indian paint brush and apache plume, which I intend to order this fall.

I have been trying for a couple of months to capture an image that gets across the incredible variety of colors and textures that exist in the Petite Prairie.   I like the following picture because it really does capture the Impressionistic side of ornamental grasses.

This is my entry for the Gardening Gone Wild photo contest:   Petite Prairie on an August evening.

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