Saturday, 16 April 2011

Deschampsia cespitosa (Tufted hair grass) at Lovegrass Farm

Deschampsia cespitosa in July

Deschampsia in June
 Deschampsia cespitosa (tufted hair grass) is one of our most beautiful Native grasses here in P.E.I. although it is hard to recognize in the wild, between other grasses.  It's Mature height in flower is about 36 inches (90 cm.) and about 24 in. (60 cm.) wide.  A Very Versatile grass, ideal for informal cottage garden style planting, adding a soft texture to landscaped and naturalized areas.

Deschampsia cespitosa 'Bronzeschleier' in July
 Dense tufts of fine, wispy leaves send up panicles of feathery flowers of a purplish color that change to straw-colored seed stems with eye-catching delicate heads in mid-summer.  They are translucent & luminous when side lit or back lit by the sun.  They sparkle with dewdrops in the morning or after a summer rain!  (Can you tell they are a Favorite of Mine?)  Classified as a woodland plant of light shade and acidic soils Deschampsia will tolerate some saline water when it grows near salt marshes.  Having said that it is also drought tolerant for we have only grown it in our dry sandy soil in full sun where it does quite well!

Deschampsia cespitosa in August
 Deschampsia are best massed as the haze effect of their flowers show best when an area is full of the same plant.  They are a very useful plant for creating a Minimalistic effect for visual calmness to set a meditative mood.  You could also intersperse with spring bulbs; the growing foliage will cover the dying bulb foliage.  You could also mix in perennials that will grow taller than the grass to look like they are floating above it such as mullein, liatris, verbena, foxglove, daylilys and coneflowers. to make a display right into Fall.

Deschampsia with Verbena in front in September
 Shade tolerant, Deschampsia cespitosa works well mixed with hostas and ferns and as a planting around a pond to soften the rock edge.  The flower heads are popular in flower arrangements.  Piet Oudolf uses Deschampsia extensively in his garden designs.  We also sell Deschampsia cespitosa 'Bronzeschleier'.  I haven't noticed a lot of difference compared to the native, except that it bloomed a little later last year.  I should have taken this photo with the verbena in the background. (I have a lot to learn in Photography but I can tell you that grasses are a wonderful subject to learn with!)

This was taken at a Rest Stop in Quebec in mid-October.  The Deschampsia was fading but Great to see it used in Public!

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