by David Salman
Celebrate Fall with Ornamental Grass Cultivars
It’s hard to believe that September has arrived. Just where did the summer go? Here in the high elevations and mountains of New Mexico, fall is in the air. The light has changed, with the sky turning bluer and clearer and the air getting drier and cooler. It was 50°F this morning in Santa Fe.
Of all the seasons, fall is my sentimental favorite. But yet, I’m not excited about the prospect of winter being just around the corner. For a nurseryman such as me, winter is a time of work and worry about the snow storms and keeping the greenhouses heated and safe from the elements. But I digress.
Fall is a time to celebrate and enjoy the ornamental grasses! I just love the combination of fall blooming perennials and the colorful foliage of our native shrubs in combination with the grasses. A real trend I see developing is the appreciation of our native ornamental grasses. For one thing, there has been an explosion of Prairie Switch Grass (Panicum) cultivars, such as Panicum virgatum Shenandoah (Shenandoah Switch Grass). A great deal of attention has been paid to developing cultivars with burgundy foliage in the late summer and fall.
But there’s more. There is a lovely blue-bladed Schizachyrium scoparium Prairie Blues. And our popular Bouteloua gracilis Blonde Ambition is in its full chartreuse glory at the moment. Soon the flowers will mature to blonde seed heads.
I can go on and on about all the new native genera from which I and other grass breeders and growers are finding to introduce for fall garden enjoyment. Actually, now that I think of it, winters are a lot more bearable when there are a lot of graceful grasses in your garden. Stay tuned as I will do my best to keep High Country gardeners up to date. And don't forget to keep your camera handy and take some ornamental grass photos to enter into one of our Photo Contests. Your image might appear in our catalog or on the website!Text and Photos by David Salman.
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