If you aren’t living in a cave in the Himalayas, you probably know Colorado legalized recreational marijuana. I considered calling this post “Our 2014 Business Plan” or “Best Plants for 2014″ but decided to go with Brewer and Shipley’s title from their hit in 1971. If you’ve never heard the song, or haven’t heard it in a while, Google it and listen on Youtube. It’s a catchy tune. You can even download a ringtone. Oh. I just reread the first few sentences and realized it sounds like we’re planning on growing pot this year. No, that’s not the plan…
We have been surprised, though, that acquaintances we hadn’t heard from in decades are calling us and advising us to get into the business! No doubt, this is a huge thing: people are coming to Colorado from all over the country to fill their suitcases with pot. I heard on the TV news that the airports are “trying to discourage” transporting grass by plane. We’ve had the dot com bubble and the real estate bubble….is Colorado heading for a marijuana bubble?
Despite the statewide fervor, you won’t be able to buy grass at Perennial Favorites–at least not that kind of grass. The grasses in our catalog this year are entirely different animals. The use of ornamental grasses in gardens, and in meadows, is increasing in popularity, partly because of the ease of maintenance, the calming effect of grasses waving in the breeze, the wildlife cover it provides, and the sense of returning to nature. Eastern Colorado is, after all, one gigantic grassland, and so grasses are a natural choice for the western garden. Native grasses offer the benefits of traditional ornamental grasses without the high water demand. They complement our native wildflowers, too. Here’s a picture of Merrilee and Xander in our Greenhorn Valley meadow last year.
This year we hope to offer a wide selection of ornamental grasses, in all sizes and colors. Here are a few we’re excited about:
Schizachyrium scoparium LITTLE BLUESTEM–this grass is native over a wide area of the U.S., including Colorado. It changes from blue green in the summer to burgundy red in the fall; is drought tolerant and deer resistant, and hardy to Zone 4.
Bouteloua gracilis ’Blonde Ambition’ BLUE GRAMA GRASS: Taller than the native blue grama with showier flowers, this is an accent plant, not a lawn grass. Lovely in late summer. Should be in every xeriscape! Planst Select 2011. Zone 4. Plant three or five for a drift of platinum seed heads!
Festuca idahoensis BLUE BUNCHGRASS: Blue-green fine textured foliage about one foot tall. Can be grown with blue grama grass in a prairie flower meadow. Drought tolerant. Zone 3.
Koeleria macrantha JUNE GRASS: This grass has lovely silver-green seedheads in early summer. The fine textured foliage is green-gray color. A very drought tolerant grass, blooming without fail in the drought here in Southern Colorado the last two years. It is a little clumper, only about 10″ tall, and would look great in a rock garden, too. Zone 4.
Muhlenbergia reverchonii ‘Autumn Embers’ SEEP MUHLY: This grass, native to Texas and Oklahoma, has reddish pink blooms in late summer. Very showy and hardy to zone 5. Needs a little more moisture than most of the grasses in our catalog, but it’s gorgeous in the fall. 2′ tall.
Muhlenbergia wrightii SPIKE MUHLY: Another “muhly” this one grows to a foot or so tall, is very drought tolerant, and is native to Colorado. The foliage is a pleasing blue gray and fits nicely into the landscape with all of our Western wildflowers. Zone 4.
Sporobolus wrightii GIANT SACATON: This is a very ornamental xeric grass. It can be grown without irrigation once established. The roots were used by Indians to make hairbrushes. The leaves reach over 3′ in height, the airy seed heads almost 6′. Zone 5.
Sporobolus cryptandrus SAND DROPSEED: A very drought tolerant grass, this is a warm season bunch grass native to sandy areas of the West. 2′ tall. Zone 5.
I could go on and on about the grasses we hope to grow this year, but I don’t want to go to excess. That’s what Shipley said One Toke Over the Line was about–anything taken to excess. It’s a great song, they’re financing their retirement with it. I plan to hum it while I plant more grasses in my meadow this spring.
“Waitin’ for the train that goes home, Sweet Mary, hopin’ that the train is on time. ..”