Monday, 19 March 2012

Fall frosts on Ornamental Grass at Lovegrass Farm

Fall Frost on Helictotrichon sempervirens (Blue oat grass) photo taken Nov. 2, 2011
Frost on Eragrostis trichodes (Sand lovegrass)
These photos were taken last November at Lovegrass Farm. The frost on the grasses took my breath away that morning, literally, for frost makes breathing difficult (some leftover childhood asthma), and because it is So Beautiful!  I am in Awe of Mother Nature!
Frost on Seslaria autumnalis
Frost on Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Hameln'
Frost on Blue oat grass
Frost on Panicum virgatum (Switchgrass)
Pennisetum 'Hameln'
Frost on Sporobolus heterolepis (Prairie dropseed)

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Sorghastrum nutans (Indian Grass) at Lovegrass Farm

Sorghastrum nutans (Indian grass) photo taken Sept. 24, 2011 at Lovegrass Farm
Sorghastrum (sor-GAS-trum) nutans (NOO-tanz) or Indian grass is a warm season, Native tall grass prairie species.  It grows from 3 - 6 ft. tall (90 - 180 cm.) and is mostly clump forming but capable of spreading modestly by rhizomes.  The grass stays low until it starts to bloom in late August.  In the fall, blue-green blades of this hardy upright grass turn yellow and the stiff stems are topped with reddish-brown flowers which are highlighted by dangling golden orange anthers.  The flowers have a metallic sheen when back lit by the sun.  It is lovely in fresh & dried flower arrangements.
Indian grass on July 5, 2011
Indian grass prefers Full Sun, is tolerant of a wide range of soil types and is moderately drought and salinity tolerant.  With less moisture it tends to be shorter.  It is useful for erosion control and highly deer resistant (not that that's a problem in P.E.I.).  It is an excellent choice for many low-maintenance gardens, ideal in a wildflower meadow.  It makes a good accent plant but needs companions to remain upright.  The seeds provide food for birds and mammals and the grass provides excellent nesting material and cover for wildlife.  It is also a nutritious plant for livestock.  A large variety of insects feed on this grass, thus providing food for open field songbirds.  Indian grass is a larval host plant for several butterfly species.
Indian grass, August 22, 2011 (note the stiff flowering stems)
Perhaps Sorghastrum nutans received its common name; Indian grass, because it grew in the tall grass prairie that supported the way of life of the Plains First Nations.   North American Native peoples wove Indian grass into baskets and mats and dyed and threaded it with quills and beads for ornament.  Create a little Prairie on your property for birds and insects to find food and refuge!
Sorghantrum nutans  Photo taken Sept. 13, 2011