By David Salman, Founder of High Country Gardens
Since I was a small child, much of my life has been spent here in New Mexico exploring the prairies along the eastern side of the state; the western edge of the Great Plains. And this has left me with an indelible love of the prairie and the incredible native grasses and wildflowers that grow there.
One of the dominant native grasses that define the short grass prairies of New Mexico is blue grama grass (Bouteloua gracilis). Blooming with the summer rains ("monsoons") that are our major source of moisture, this small grass covers vast areas with its distinctive brown flag-like flowers intermixed with other native grasses and wildflowers.
Read on to learn more about David Salman's most famous ornamental grass.
As a gardener, commercial greenhouse grower, and plant breeder, I'm always watching for interesting new plants. And over the past decade or so, I've circled back to my prairie "roots" and have been especially focused on finding more western native ornamental grasses for the water-wise garden.
So, when out weeding in my Santa Fe yard ten years ago, it was with great curiosity that I spotted in among a big patch of robust blue grama grass plants, a blonde flag-like flower. I carefully separated the plant from the surrounding brown-headed grasses and transplanted it into one of my garden test beds.
I didn't give it a lot of thought until the following summer, when, what was now a very large and robust grama grass plant, came back into flower. Behold, the entire plant was covered in chartreuse (yellow-green) flowers. I was captivated and anxious to see how the flowers would mature. They only got more lovely, with the unusually long, thin seed heads ripening to the color of a bleached blonde head of hair. The name 'Blonde Ambition' practically suggested itself, and I brought this new, stunning selection of blue grama grass into cultivation.