Tag Archive for ornamental grasses

Ornamental grass Miscanthus self-sows into a Gardening Oops.

You may be surprised to learn that a miscanthus grass is on the Connecticut Invasive Plant List. The miscanthus in your yard may not be the specific one listed as invasive in Connecticut, but it still may be one that self-sows like the many miscanthus growing on my little piece of Earth.  Self-sowing miscanthus are the topic of my November 2012 Gardening Oops – GOOPs for short.

I usually post on the first of each month about a GOOPs/gardening faux pas/gardening mis-step I’ve made. Super storm Sandy, as it is now being called, had another schedule in mind, so this month’s post is a tad late.

I started planting ornamental grass varieties many years ago. Living in an area heavily foraged by deer, I thoroughly enjoy that ornamental grasses are not deer candy. In fact, I have never seen even the slightest deer nibble on any ornamental grass. I have, however, found one ornamental grass family, specifically miscanthus, very readily self sows.

The invasive miscanthus variety listed as invasive in Connecticut is Miscanthus sinensis ‘Andersson’. I don’t have this variety planted. However, I do have Miscanthus sinensis ‘Arabesque’ and ‘Gracillimus’ in multiple locations and, if I didn’t deadhead the flowering bracts of these, I’d have many more miscanthus growing.

I discovered the prolific self-sowing habits of these miscanthus varieties quite by accident … I found young shoots while weeding. At first I thought the shoots were weeds then, as a few here and there managed to elude one of my many weeding sessions I realized what was growing was not a weed, but a young miscanthus.

Now if you’ve tried to dig out a mature miscanthus, you know what a good hold their roots have on the soil. These babies are not easy to eradicate once they have a foothold. So a few years back I started deadheading the miscanthus in my yard. I’m still able to enjoy the airy, red hue of the seed bracts when they are fresh and look like this:

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But when the bracts begin to whiten, and resemble the mature seed head of a dandelion puff, off go their heads.

This is why.

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This unwanted volunteer grew from a seed dropped by its parent plant growing just a few feet away. It is definitely not in a desirable spot, but serves as a good example of why I deadhead miscanthus each autumn. Even with my vigilance it’s obvious one seed head slipped the jaws of my pruning shears and spread its progeny.

And, remember, none of the miscanthus varieties planted in my yard are the variety listed on the invasive plant list. Let this be a warning … not my first, but a continued one … that any type of miscanthus will self-sow and could become a problem child. This is why all my miscanthus now look like this:

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I can still enjoy how the grasses sway in the breezes – Sandy’s gusts really had them swaying – but I no longer need to worry that their prolific blooms will become a similarly prolific “weed” issue.

Have you had this experience with miscanthus? Do you have a different GOOPs to share? Let me know in the comments below and be sure to stop back again on December 1 for another GOOPs installment. Barring any weather issues, the December GOOPs should go up as scheduled.

Many thanks to Laurrie who posts a GOOPs every month … even when I miss one. Read Laurrie’s November GOOPs.

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October reds – Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day

Reds are the highlighted colors in my Connecticut gardens for this October 2012 Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day.

Some red shades are in blossom form, like this sedum which shined in pink just one month ago.

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And in the mums, that finally started to grab center stage just before our first freeze two days ago.  I wasn’t concerned when the camera captured them in a frosty coating.

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Mums often shine after a touch of cold. These recouped quite nicely.

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Other, more tender plants, such as coleus, white zinnias, basil, peppers, and ageratum succumbed to the 28 degree temperatures that greeted the October 13 sunrise in my zone 6 gardens. Still, a few hardy souls press on with blooms not as perfect as they were during summer and early autumn. Autumn blossoms are so often a contrast of ugliness and beauty, and life and death.

This rose blossom glows in spite of the black spot that mars its leaves.

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This phlox, which has been in constant bloom since early summer, is not quite ready to give in to the cold, sending out lovely small flowers in contrast to its dying leaves.

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Nasturtium are fighting frost with flowers.

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And Alpine strawberries chuckle at chilled air.

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But these specks of pink and white and yellow are the last hint of summer amongst autumn reds. If, as a New England gardener, you have focused all your gardening efforts on blossoms, you are missing out on the best of autumn … brilliantly-hued foliage.

Trees in southern Connecticut are still in the golden stage of autumn.

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Reds are provided by ornamental grasses shining in the autumn sun.

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The red foliage of coast leucothoe.

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And the brilliant hues of blueberry shrubs.

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Even waning strawberry foliage offers up striking reds against a blue strawberry jar.

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Northern gardeners relish even the smallest of blooms and slightest hint of color knowing that October freezes will continue to nip away at remaining flowers until all are gone. Then we will relish colorful blossoms and foliage in gardens all over the world by visiting May Dreams Gardens where Carole kindly hosts Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day on the fifteenth of each month. Head there now to see what other gardens have blooming today.

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Yikes! It’s December!

Wow, talk about sneaking up on me. Last night I went to bed with my head still firmly planted in November. This morning I awoke to December. How did the last month of 2010 sneak up on me? I’m not prepared for winter’s chill or winter’s snow and this is my confession, my gardening faux pas, my Gardening Oops or GOOPs for short. Today, being the first of December, marks my day to share a gardening blunder, or in the case of this month, a gardener’s procrastination.

I have hoses to store away where freezing temperatures and gnawing rodent teeth can’t harm them.

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I have a leaning tower of miscanthus to cut down and multiple other miscanthus grasses to deadhead. I’ve found miscanthus volunteers in unwanted locations numerous times (Miscanthus sinensis Anderss. is listed as potentially invasive) so I now deadhead all miscanthus plantings in my yard.

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I have iris, phlox, and other perennials that still need a fall haircut. If we don’t have snow cover all winter I don’t want my winter views sullied by this mess and I don’t want to give foraging chipmunks and voles extra hiding places amongst my perennials.

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And my rhododendron still need winter protection from browsing deer. No, this photo is not an optical illusion … it’s my deer fencing on the ground instead of where it needs to be – upright and about 2 or 3 feet away from my rhododendron shrubs.

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Connecticut’s generally warm temperatures have certainly abetted my procrastination, but I sense the warmth will rapidly cease.

I’ll definitely take care of these things tomorrow … honest.

I’m not procrastinating again … it’s raining today.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA And I’m sure you have all waited with great anticipation to learn the current status of my last month’s GOOPs. I’m happy to say that my husband came to the rescue. He cut and installed plastic pipe to hold the lower legs of two cedar trellises in my front perennial beds. With this fix the trellises again stand tall and straight. I expect to get a few more years use from them before the untreated cedar deteriorates to the point that it cannot hold morning glory vine weight.

I’d love to hear of any GOOPs you’d like to share. Either mention your gardening misstep in a comment below or share your GOOPs on your blog and leave us a link and a teaser here.

Happy gardening and may my GOOPs not be yours!

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