Friday, December 5, 2008

Winter Grasses

I love seeing the fog each morning these last few weeks. The landscapes look so quiet & other worldly. The world looks soft. The water droplets or if it’s very cold, the frost, sticks on the plants, especially the ornamental grasses. That is why I like to leave the ornamental grass foliage for the fall & winter. In late summer & fall, the green leaf blades start to turn burgundy or tawny brown. The grass flowers turn to seed that will be ornamental or edible for the coming seasons. By the time the fall rains start, the silhouettes add beautiful form to the fall & winter landscape.

I have seen this Purple Fountain Grass shining in all its’ late season glory.
I love the white see heads contrasting with the dark foliage. During the summer, this grass is a garden mainstay as the burgundy-purple foliage & pinkish flowers add motion & texture to our containers and borders.

For all your ornamental grasses, leave the foliage & seed heads up for food & protection for birds. It’s fun to watch them hanging on the tops of the grasses on windy days. As the winter progresses, grasses do start to look haggard. They have been through many weeks of rain & wind. In late March, it is time to cut back the old foliage. New foliage will be up before you know it and the new cycle begins.

I have always loved the fall & winter landscape. I am from Chicago where it can be cold & grey or cold with clear blue skies. Any plant left up for the winter besides a yew or pine is interesting. There’s just not a lot of plant variety in that area! But I got used to seeing some beauty as that was all we got! Now that I have lived in the Valley for 12 years, I see so many plants go through physical changes all year long. The late fall & winter have a beauty that is theirs alone. Take the time to enjoy this quiet time of the season.

Take care,

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