Showing posts with label schizachyrium. Show all posts
Showing posts with label schizachyrium. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Rules I have flouted, grasses I have loved

If there are two things I should've learned by now, they would include:

  1. Short plants go in front and tall plants go in the back.
  2. Read the plant tags (and then count on them getting bigger).

When I asked Scott to help me design my meadow he gave me these really great plant lists and three different planting schemes but I went sort of off-script and then I forgot about the two bullet points above. I planted little bluestem grasses (Schizachyrium scoparium 'Blue Heaven') right in the front of the meadow, thinking they'd stay two feet tall even though the tag clearly said they'd get four feet tall (and because this is Portland they'll probably grow to six).

So while the grasses were beautiful, they were obscuring the lovely fountaining of the Pennisetum 'Redhead' just behind them and generally looking inappropriate for front and center placement. And they were straight up hiding the Panicum 'Shenandoah.' They're in there, I swear.

So I relocated them to the back of the meadow. I'm hoping they'll continue to bulk up and I'll get a nice color block there. Even with their smaller stature I'm enjoying them in their new location.

And now Pennisetum 'Redhead' can really strut her stuff.

It's hard to tell, but there's a ribbon of Sedum 'Matrona' along the front of the bed. Hopefully that will bulk up next summer, too.

I am a little concerned that the little bluestems won't get enough sun next summer at the back of the bed. "Right plant, right place" has also been a hard one to learn. What other rules of thumb can I ignore next? Plant in groups of odd numbers, work the diagonals, never wake a sleep walker . . . what else?

Of course, all I can see when I'm in the front garden is Muhlenbergia rigens. I am so head over heels for this grass right now.

After its brief foray into bondage with the insulation installation, I decided to move it toward the front door. Greg didn't like the way it reached out and tickled him when he'd walk up the driveway (it's kinky, what can I say).

Because I'm a dick I moved it right in front of the outside faucet (M. rigens up! your! nose! every time you turn on the hose!). This grass can tolerate a lot of manhandling (especially after the bondage) so it will still look nice even if I drag the hose over it again and again. Or step on it to get to the faucet.

I've thought about getting bee hives but who knows what it would do with the hot wax?

Monday, October 29, 2012

The saddest new planting bed ever

I whined and complained that I wanted rain so the ground would soften. After about five days of heavy rain we got a sun break and I headed out to plant the future meadowscape:

Despite the rain, the ground was still hard as a rock in places. Despite my sincerest desire to not hurt the dogwood, I ran into a lot of roots and might have just said, "Eff it, let's hope it lives." I really hope it lives.

Keeping with the tradition of doing everything wrong, I also planted everything too closely together. I followed Carolyn Kolb's recommendations for planting grasses . . . sort of. She recommends cutting off the bottom 1/2" from nursery starts (my bread knife worked perfectly), roughing up the roots a bit, then giving the grasses a smidge of granular fertilizer and some compost to get them going.

Despite the fact that I've been sitting on these grasses for over a month, I had neither compost nor fertilizer on hand. Fish emulsion a few weeks after planting will have to do.

Everything looks so lame right now but I'm hopeful it will look great come spring. And next fall should be spectacular. I have a mix of switch grass (Panicum virgatum 'Shenandoah'), Pennisetum 'White Lancer' (Pennisetum macrourum), and little bluestem grasses (Schizachyrium scoparium 'Blue Heaven'), plus a fountain grass for good measure (Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Redhead'). This is part of the master plan that Scott drew up. Hopefully I won't screw it up too much. I need to smother more lawn so I can fit in the rest of the grasses and plants I have planned.

The inspiration for this planting scheme was a photo by Pam Penick, located here. Large swaths of different colored grasses will be intermixed with some bright drought-tolerant perennials. My goal is to water this once a week or less, once established.

I'm trying to tell myself that this will grow and look okay but I always doubt my spacing. But hey, this looked lame once, too.