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Posts Tagged ‘miscanthus giganteus’

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What an amazing transformation. By the end of summer, the bare earth, newly released from its cover of winter snow in April, is unrecognizable. The mature garden is verdant and lush. Here’s a snapshot of one section of the September riot, a triumph of prolific summer growth.

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To the right is the fountain grass ‘Redhead’ (Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Redhead’). It may be my favorite grass. Its fuzzy seedheads have a pretty blush color, and when backlit by the sun, they’re absolutely breath-taking.

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Behind ‘Redhead’ is a hyacinth bean vine. This is the first year I have tried this annual. It has yet to flower, but the vine itself is impressive. It is clambering up a ladder, but the vine is so rampant, the ladder is no longer visible through the leaves!

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The tall yellow flowers near the center belong to rudbeckia nitida ‘Herbstsonne’, or Autumn Sun rudbeckia. Autumn Sun is an apt name for this tall, brilliant yellow flower.

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These airy seedhead sprays belong to the switchgrass Panicum virgatum ‘Thundercloud’. Thundercloud is the tallest of several switchgrass varieties in the garden, but at 6 feet it is dwarfed by the Giant Silver Grass (Miscanthus giganteus) growing behind it, which will reach 11 feet.

Playing supporting roles to their taller neighbours are an assortment of phlox, coreopsis, and a tumbledown hollyhock that seeded itself here. Pictured below is agastache ‘Blue Fortune’.

Tomorrow, we will be leaving the garden to its own devices for a couple of weeks as RailGuy and I head out on vacation. To celebrate RailGuy’s retirement, we are taking the train from Toronto to Vancouver and spending a few days on the west coast. I’ll have pictures to share when we return!

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During much of the summer, grasses form a backdrop for dazzling flowering plants, but come autumn, it’s their turn to shine. This is a Shenandoah Switchgrass or Panicgrass (Panicum virgatum ‘Shenandoah’), a hybrid of a native grass. The seedhead stalks form an airy cloud of fine tracery. When the stems are beaded with morning dew and lit by the sun, panicum is as beautiful as any garden plant.

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Here’s a taller switchgrass, Panicum virgatum ‘Thundercloud’, which reaches about six feet.

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Another native hybrid is Schizachyrium scoparium ‘Prairie Blues’, or Little Bluestem. It forms a low-growing clump about 2 to 3 feet tall.

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The non-native miscanthus varieties, sometimes called Maiden Grass, are among the showiest grasses in the garden with their eye-catching plumes. This is miscanthus sinensis.

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The tallest perennial in the garden is Miscanthus giganteus. It towers over the garden at 10 to 12 feet tall. According to Wikipedia, it is a hybrid of Miscanthus sinensis and Miscanthus sacchariflorus and is currently used in the European Union as a commercial energy crop, as a source of heat and electricity, or converted into biofuel products such as ethanol, being more efficient than corn grown for that purpose.

I am content just to enjoy mine as a garden spectacle. Its tall stalks typically stay upright all winter until I cut them down in the spring.

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I’m especially fond of the pennisetums, or fountain grasses. This is Pennisetum Alopecuroides ‘Moudry’, or Black-flowering Fountain Grass. It was at its best back in September, when I took this photo. As their name implies, the fountain grasses form a gracefully arching clump.

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Finally, here are the distinctive seedheads of sea oats displayed on Chasmanthium latifolium ‘River Mist’, a variegated version of this North American native. River Mist was new to the garden this summer, but I’ve grown the green-leafed variety for some time. This grass is quite tolerant of shade and can make an interesting addition to a gloomy corner.

The plants shown here are all hardy perennials. There are also some very attractive grasses grown as annuals, but I haven’t tried any of them yet. Whether your garden is big or small, grasses can be worthy additions.

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Here’s Remy, sitting by the Giant Maiden Grass (Miscanthus giganteus). Remy is about 18 inches tall. The Giant Maiden Grass is 9 feet! In June, the garden is dominated by the Giant Fleeceflower (Persicaria polymorphus), which I wrote about in a post entitled Another Summer in the Garden, linked here. But by July, it has been overtaken by other high-risers now hitting their stride. Foremost amongst these is this huge grass, and it isn’t done yet. It has its seed stalks to top off its nine feet still to come. I purchased this grass in the fall of 2010, so this is just its second summer in the garden. You can see how it looked that first fall in my post Tucked Into Bed. It’s sure come a long way since then!

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Just down from the Giant Maiden Grass is this Cup Plant (Silphium perfoliatum). It’s a native of eastern North America. It is topping out this year at 7 1/2 feet as it starts blooming. The large leaves are fused in pairs with the leaf opposite, embracing the interesting square stalk, giving the impression of the plant stalk perforating the leaves. The leaves form a little cup that captures rain water and gives the plant its common name.

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Coming in at a mere 6 feet, the Giant Coneflower (Rudbeckia maxima) falls far short of some of its neighbours, but it is a very cool plant. When I first saw this rudbeckia, a member of the black-eyed susan family, in a nursery, I thought it had been mislabelled. It sure doesn’t look like other black-eyed susans.

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Its large, glaucous leaves are nothing like typical rudbeckia leaves. Maxima is native to the southern states, but has so far been hardy here in Eastern Ontario. This is its third year in the garden. It’s flowers, held high on long, stately stems, are quite attractive. This one has attracted a little white crab spider.

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