Last year I wrote a post about Pennisetum and apparently people liked it. Now there is a friend of us who confessed me he has finally bought a grass, a miscanthus for instance, about a year ago because of my (bad) influence on him but after that he kept this grass in the pot, in constant pilgrimage, because he doesn’t know what to do with it. I hope he will make up his mind with this post and plant that poor miscanthus!
Clockwise from top left: m. Cabaret, m. Zebrinus and a very late flowerer seedling
When you read a book about grasses (my personal Bible is The Encyclopedia of Grasses for livable landscapes by Rick Darke) you soon learn that the great part of miscanthus species are native to eastern and southeastern Asia and that the genus name derives from the Greek mischos, stalk, and anthos, flower, referring to the stalked spikelets and that in Japan they call this grass susuki and they use it to make roofs for traditional houses. I only use miscanthus in my garden (if I had known this roof thingy a few years ago I could have saved a lot of money!) so if you want to learn more about roofs get the book or ask a japanese.
Miscanthus represent the starter kit for grass newbies: it is easy to grow, disease resistant, it is clump forming and increases quickly enough to make the gardener happy but not worried. In fact this plant doesn’t spread like bamboos and it self seeds very discretely, even though some people in America doesn’t grow it because they are worried it could spread and take over their natives. I think they have bigger problems than miscanthus seedlings: like hurricanes for instance, or Martha Stewart; but I guess they are free to choose.
This ornamental grass is a bold presence in my garden almost all year round. Barely visible in spring, it fulfills summer borders and start flowering from mid summer until late fall, depending on the cultivar. Flowers look like a bunch of ropes held up by a strong but flexible stalk. Soon the flowers become seeds and the ‘ropes’ explode and curl and spiral in a fluffy, pearl white cotton candy. Seed heads are real light catchers and stay in place for almost the whole cold season.
Clockwise from left: the late flowerer seedling seen before, a group of tall miscanthus Cabaret and Cosmo Revert and m. x giganteus, m. Ferne Osten in the centre of the grass garden
I grow successfully some different species and cultivars of miscanthus in my garden, all of them like a sunny or semi shaded position, they tolerate drought but like better moist soil. I guess drought enhances their strength and fall colour though. I grow them in different parts and conditions in my garden and they always thrive. I use standard soil and put some gravel for drainage when I plant. The only cultivars I had issues are Graziella, Gracillimus and the variegated Morning Light all of them have in common a very fine foliage and a compact rounded habit but they haven’t prove any hardiness in winter nor drought tolerance in summer.
The focal point of this bed are two very large and tall miscanthus sinensis var. condensatus Cabaret and Cosmo Revert
My personal choices:
– Miscanthus transmorrisoniensis forms a rather short round and large clump of bright green leaves, it is only at the end of summer that this plant send up tall stems with big fluffy and nodding spikelets, held high above the foliage. I love this one because it is very discrete during the growing season just to amaze me with its big seed heads.It isn’t very tall but the low foliage makes it look taller.
– Miscanthus sinensis ‘Zebrinus’ is a tall variegated late flowerer cultivar. It has two distinctive things: it is yellow striped while normally variegated form are white and bands are horizontal to the leaf which makes the overall look very interesting, as if hit by the sun even when it’s not sunny. A rather tall grass.
– Miscanthus sinensis var. condensatus ‘Cabaret’ is a tall broad leaved variegated form. I’m not into variegated plant normally but I couldn’t imagine a garden without this plant. In fact I have two in different places of the garden. Similar to ‘Cosmopolitan’ but the pattern of the variegation is reversed. Very tall plant, it reaches 2,5mt.
Miscanthus Purpurascens, yes, again.
– Miscanthus x giganteus is another tall one. To be honest its only peculiarity is the height. It could be taller than 3,5mt. This species is also grown in agriculture to produce natural fuel.
Rosa Bloomfield Abundance and m. purpurascens
– Miscanthus purpurascens in my opinion this is the iconic form of miscanthus. Beautiful and very durable seed heads and interesting fall foliage colours. One of the best.
– Miscanthus sinensis ‘Gnome’ is the smallest miscanthus I grow. Normally I am not very fond of dwarfed plants but this one really looks good and in proportion. I have two of them, one of which is planted under a birch and doesn’t grow as much as the other one that has more space and good soil around.
–Miscanthus sinensis ‘Ferne Osten’ is medium sized and has nothing really peculiar to me except it is a very early flowerer. I keep a little group of them in the central bed of the grass garden, I needed a cultivar not taller than 130-150 cm that flowers early (it starts from late july) and this one was perfect. Early flowerer means that the seed heads remain under september rain and get spoiled before fall.
Clockwise from top left: m.s. ‘Gnome’ (this is the unlucky one), m. x giganteus (only 3 mt tall because I keep it in a very dry spot) and m.s. Ferne Osten
I hope I brought the grass family a little closer to you and I hope that someone I know will put that pot into ground soon with no regrets.
Now I know that what follows is absolutely not relevant with grasses but according to this blog’s rules, and being the boss here, I can change matter whenever I want.
This morning, while I was wandering around the garden taking pictures, Tigre kept following me everywhere and insistently rubbing my legs for cuddles or food or maybe both. She normally is a wild thing, killing every moving and breathing thingy in the garden and seeing her asking for cuddles is almost weird.
Tigre pointing her nose to the camera in that kitten way while I was taking a snap of rosa Rote Hannover fall foliage, Tigre posing on the white bench and the shadows of me kneeling on a rose with Tigre sharpening her nails on my back…
Following me must have really tired her so she finally went for a nap in her new little kitten house. But after a while…