Tag Archives: little bluestem

The first tour of my garden in 2017

Daffodils in bloom

Some of the Narcissus (Daffodils) are in bloom now, no doubt pushed by the 80 degree temps we had here in New Jersey yesterday.

 

 

 

 

 

Flowers soon to arrive

Viburnum carlesii.

 

 

The tiny Muscari.

 

Golden ragwort (Packera aurea).

 

Daffodils that will hide the recently cut down ornamental grass.

 

More daffodils, ‘Kokopelli’, on the way.

 

New foliage growth, almost as exciting as the flowers

This is Sorbaria sorbifolia ‘Sem’ or False Spirea. Say that 5 times fast.

 

I get a lot of anxiety in early spring, fearful of what plants didn’t survive the winter. While this pic of Hydrangea ‘Little Lime’ may mean little to you, it means the world to me. I’m so thankful to have her back for another year considering I recklessly moved her around three times last summer.

 

This is the plant I’m most excited to watch progress this year. It’s Filipendula rubra (Queen of the Prairie). This will be its third year in my garden and I hope it can reach upwards of 6 feet in height with plenty of pale pink flowers in summer.

 

This is Diervilla sessilifolia (Southern Bush Honeysuckle) with its variegated foliage emerging over a mass of Bee Balm rosettes. This combo should be killer by early summer.

 

Photos that make me think

Baptisia is here, yeah. So are the weeds, boo.

 

I like to sing the praises of Bee Balm (Monarda) and its agressive nature, but this spring they have marched into enemy territory. Enemy territory being other perennials. Here it is challenging Heuchera (Coral Bells). I think we know who will win.

 

I am way excited to see that tulips have, knock on wood, survived the winter and appear ready to bloom. Even better is the fact that this small ornamental grass will strategically cover the decaying tulip foliage as it gets larger with the warmer temps. Hopefully by allowing the tulip foliage to decay, it will energize the bulbs and provide a repeat display of flowering next spring.

 

I’m totally cool with the Leucojum aestivum (Summer Snowflake) expanding its colony even if it’s underneath this evergreen shrub. I say “evergreen shrub” because I can’t recall the name even after a search through my garden archives.

 

Finally, and I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but I can’t bring myself to cut down this pairing. I’ve loved it all fall and winter and can’t end it quite yet. It is Little Bluestem grass, with its stellar orange hue, and Mountain Mint with its still upright seed heads.

I’m going to enjoy it for a few more days before cutting them both to the ground.

Little bluestem

There is an ornamental grass that is threatening to steal my heart away from Panicum ‘Northwind’. I know, scandalous. But the heart wants what the heart wants. And right now the heart is being tugged towards Little bluestem. Or if we’re being fancy, Schizachyrium scoparium.

I’ve even gone so far as to share my love for her on Instagram:

Swoon.

I realize I’m late to the party with Little bluestem. And I’m fully aware it was one of the dominant grasses in the Tallgrass Prairie in the central U.S of yesteryear and that only 4% or so remains to this day.

But better late than never, right?

I guess I never fully realized just how easily it fits into the home garden. I’m up to three right now and will probably divide one of those in spring.

Some Little bluestem info:

  • Plant hardiness zone 3-9
  • Mature size is 4′ x 2′
  • Blooms starting in August and lasts into November here in zone 6B.
  • Requires full sun for best growth and becomes a bit floppy in partial shade.
  • Soil should range from dry to medium but mine have been ok to date in somewhat wet soil.
  • Drought tolerant and thrives in disturbed soils. Perfect for use on banks and slopes for erosion control.
  • An underrated feature, as is the case with so many ornamental grasses, is the food and shelter it provides to wildlife like birds and butterflies.

Some other info, happily accompanied by photos:

Little bluestem is a warm season grass and typically looks like this for me by early June:

little bluestem

And by mid-summer, the pastel colors of Little bluestem are killer, especially when properly back lit by the late day sun:

little bluestem

As mentioned previously, this native grass starts blooming in August and is covered in silvery white seedheads. Beautiful:

little bluestem

By late summer, as the flowers fade, the grass takes on a coppery appearance which looks right at home in the fall garden. Yum:

little bluestem

 

little bluestem

By mid-November or so, as with most ornamental grasses, Little bluestem transforms into a buff color where it remains that way until it is cut down in spring (Which you should do by the way. Please don’t cut your grasses down in fall or winter. Thanks.)

little bluestem

Are you growing this in your garden? What are your thoughts?

The grasses take the lead role

A few thoughts for today:

  • Doesn’t this picture make you a little bit sad?

blue-fortune-agastache

I cut back this one Agastache to the ground a few weeks back because it was dried to a crisp and did it ever put on nice new growth in no time. And then just this week this one bloom appeared. It feels so bittersweet since the real cold weather is just around the corner.

Valiant effort little guy.

  • Is there a better name than Flame Grass for this one?

flame-grass

True story: An unknown civilian called me over to their car in front of my home the other day. I assumed they were going to ask for directions but then realized, no one does that any more with Google and GPS right? I prepared for the worst and even prepared for an evil clown to emerge only to have them ask, “What is that bush over there? It is stunning.”

Sir, that is Miscanthus purpurascens or Flame Grass for you common folk.

  • A close 2nd to the “best looking ornamental grass right now” is Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium).

little-blustem

Tremendous coloration, especially when back lit by the late afternoon sun.

  • This combination of Blue Grama Grass (Bouteloua gracilis ‘Blonde Ambition’) and an Anemone I have no memory of ever planting has been fun. I couldn’t recreate this effect if I tried.

blonde-anemone

It is better to be lucky than good.

  • The Obedient plant (Physostegia ‘Vivid’) has easily quadrupled in size in the past two years and is a unique bloom color this time of year.

amsonia-obedient

  • And finally, I would be super appreciative if you could read my latest post over at Medium.com: How losing my wallet made my life easier. This may sound crazy, but the content and style of this article is one that I’m strongly considering for a book. If you do check it out, I would love for you to click on the little heart at the bottom of the story. That greatly helps me with getting others to read it as well. And as always, let me know what you think, good or bad. I need the feedback, desperately.
  • I lied, one more. I hopefully fixed the issue with the subscription pop-up but need your confirmation that it is in fact working again. Let me know in the comments section if you have a minute.

Thank you and have a hell of a day.