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Monday, January 17, 2011

View from my Kitchen Window

The other day, I shared with you the sketch of what I saw out my kitchen window....While very rough and unfinished, I thought you might like to see what I was quickly trying to capture.

You see three different types of grasses, all from the same family...although I must admit, I'm unsure of the difference. They are Panicums or "Switch grasses." Native to North America, many hybridizers have turned their attention to these attractive grasses.
The one which is reddish in color to the left is "Northwind", the one to the right, "Dallas Blues" and the one which is triangulated in the middle, but further to the back which you can't see too well because it is grayer is "Heavy Metal."

In the very back, beyond the fence but very tall and standing feathery and golden against the dark green of my neighbor's spruce trees is Giant Feather Reed grass, although I must admit, I'm a little confused at present. It has flower heads like a Calamagrostis, so I think it must be Ravenna grass (Saccharum ravennae, also known as hardy pampas grass), but it isn't invasive.. at least I've had it here for 5 years without it spreading by seed, only getting bigger at the base. It is not Arundo donax, which is definitely invasive. I will say, it has very sharp leaves and I imagine when I go to divide it, it will need to be done with an ax.

This is a slightly different angle, on a morning which the whole world was covered with a heavy, sparkly frost. I couldn't quite capture it, but the sort of golden dust and fogginess is that very essence I was trying to capture.


Now, from a different angle, you can see the same grasses in the summer. This photo was taken in August.

2 comments:

Sunita said...

Lisa, this is fascinating! I love the look of snow and those very attractive grasses. I even smiled at their names. whoever named the gray grass "heavy metal" had a great sense of humour! :D
I wish I had the guts to plant grasses in my garden but given our tropical tendency for over-abundance they may just take over.

Michigoose said...

Hi Sunita, maybe...but most of these grasses won't grow in the tropics...they're northern prairie grasses. :)

The fun thing about the "Heavy Metal" is the Hybridizer's sense of humor. Kurt Bluemel , the hybridizer has named other plants with humorous names....but at the moment I can't recall any! He, and a few other hybridizers, mostly Europeans, saw the grasses, particularly North American species, as great places to turn their attention. In fact, Bluemel is referred to as "Mr. Grass." You can read and interesting article on Bluemel here:

http://humanflowerproject.com/index.php/weblog/comments/kurt_bluemel_all_the_glory_of_grass/

Because grasses look so great in the winter, are usually drought resistant (a problem here in the late summer and through the fall) and are tough, as well as the fact that they provide cover for songbirds trying to keep under the radar of the many hawk species who visit my back yard, they are welcome additions. Oh yeah, and the contrast in height and texture are pretty darned fantastic too!

Not as pretty as some of your exotic flowers, Sunita, but they look good here none the less...and I don't have to bring them in for the winter. :)