Monday, December 10, 2007

December Plant of the Month

Ornamental grasses are great plants for the garden. Wintertime brings out the best of them. When most all other plants have retreated underground, the grasses proudly stand up and show off their flowers and gold fall color all winter long. That is why my choice for December's Plant of the Month is Miscanthus sinensis 'Adagio'.

I am a big fan of ornamental grasses. Unfortunately, my garden is sun challenged and most ornamental grasses like lots of sun. Miscanthus sinensis 'Adagio' is one type of ornamental grass which does well in the shade. It is not the only ornamental grass I grow, but is one of the big ones and is so adaptable it is heads above the others.

I have a book called Ornamental Grasses by Peter Loewer which gives a little history about ornamental grasses. He says before 1980 garden designers were averse to designing gardens solely with ornamental grasses. Garden designers thought a garden with only grasses would be boring. That is, until Russell Page, a British garden designer came along and designed the headquarters of PepsiCo in Purchase, New York entirely with grasses. Since then, grasses have become a standard part of any garden design for gardeners desiring movement and interest in their garden.

Apparently, according to Loewer, even on the hottest, stillest day in Purchase New York, the grass garden would always move ever so gently. Then in the summer when the grasses began blooming it appeared as though the blooms were all waving rhythmically in the breeze.

Movement in any garden is a good thing. I think movement keeps things interesting and grasses are one of those plants which bring something to the garden most perennials don't, year round interest and movement.

Try an 'Adagio' or any of the many ornamental grasses available if you want some movement and year round interest in your garden. This particular grass is very, very easy to divide and share or just to move around your garden. It requires a shearing in spring prior to new growth and that is the only maintenance it has required in my garden. It also does well in any average soil and is not fussy about fertility. It is a stalwart in the garden.

in the garden....


  1. We have Monkey (Liarope) grass but not sure that falls under the ornamental category…???... We also have some grass called Pampus, Pampas or Pompas (spelling ?) or something like that. Not sure the real name... We dug out several batches that were planted by the previous homeowners to this house. They were planted in strange spots and in the way of us so we dug them out. We now only have one remaining along the driveway. The Saint wanted to remove that one a while back because it was not doing well. It was not in the way and was shaded by some trees that we planned to remove so I would not allow him to remove it yet. I made a deal with him to not remove it until it had one year after the removal of the shading trees. He agreed to the deal. That was a few years ago and now the thing is doing great with the added sunshine! It also gives us some beautiful blooms! I like it when I am right…LOL

  2. I think monkey grass fits the ornamental grass category. It is technically not a grass but looks close enough to me!

    Pampas grass does not grow here. At least in my garden. I tried it two to many times! It died miserably both times. There are substitutes but I don't have enough sun. I am so sorry because I had it in North Carolina and it grew beautifully.

    Good for you standing your ground with the Saint! It is always nice to be right with spouses and others too depending on the relationship.

    The women in my family always want to be right-and unfortunately for our spouses we usually are. But not always-there's still hope for you men...

  3. Well I have some "me" time until Thursday. I have enjoyed getting all caught up on everyone's comments.

    After I came home today, I have been doing some baking for the Christmas holidays.

    Tina, enjoyed the info on grasses. This fall I planted a Zebra and another one that looks like your "Morning Light". But right now I can't remember the name and don't have time to look up the "tag". I am not good at remembering names of things I plant, I started keeping a diary and haven't been very faithful about keeping it up to date!

  4. Hi Guys, I don't know if I'm addicted but it prompts me to turn on my computer and check my email. I'd gotten bad at that and missed some important messages.
    Your lucky Tina to find a petal sewing machine. Nikki and I picked up a free arm table/antique Singer sewing machine this year (like the one Nana had) but it is plug in. She in convinced she's getting it. The heat doesn't bother me--in fact it makes me want a siesta. Although snow is very pretty sticking to the trees it's very slippery to drive on esp. when you panic, like me. Jack of all trades took me shopping-I like that because he always pays.
    Yes, we stained our premade deck rails for the house, the old ones had been taken down to may times. We had extra tongue and groove and decided to rip it, split the width,and plane it--2x. Alot of work to save a buck and I wasn't going to install then w/o staining.
    We have a real pretty grass that grows in moist, swampy areas and we have always wanted it but do not know what it is or even if it will do anything for us. It is about 12 ft tall and has a maroon stalk, short grassy tails on top that are vertical (about 10 inches) and face all one way. Do you know anything about this grass?
    My apologies for spelling my dogs name wrong. (gee whiz) It's Tartarus-meaning evil chaos, does not decribe him at all.

  5. Hi Nina and Dawn,
    Welcome back Nina. We all hope your dad is doing fine. I bet your house is smelling good with all the Christmas baking. It is good to have a good smelling house on dreary days such as today and the last few have been too dreary for me! Yuck! I am getting cabin fever and starting to feel like a duck when I go outside. We need some sun.

    I love the zebra grasses too. I have one as well. They are hard to kill so I like them. They can get really really big.

    I can give you some morning light when we meet to swap plants if you like. I love sharing it and take it to our garden club swap meet in April each year. At this time of year it is dead looking and all my gardening friends are skeptical. But some still take it.

    You sound like me with not keeping up with our journals. I bet most gardeners don't. There is always tomorrow or another time-which for some reason never seems to come! I wonder why?

    Dawn, I am so glad you joined. Blogs can get addicting. Did you see Skeeter commented about Dagwood's comic strip concerning blogs today? You all should have gotten it too? Dag says blogs are people who don't have a life and he wasn't getting involved with one. Then his son talks about Pete cycling across the country eating nothing but pizza. Next thing you know Dag is up at 3:00 am checking Pete's blog to find out what he is doing. It was so cute! It is so true how comics mimic life.

    I have two treadle machines. One we bought in Germany at a flea market for $40. It is the only all wooden treadle I have ever seen. I absolutely love it because of that. Brian used to put iced water on it and it has a few water rings. I finally refinished it in 2003 when I came back from Iraq and it now looks great. Medium colored wood. It was a Christmas gift to some lucky woman in 1916 as I still have the paperwork on it.

    The one I am refinishing now I bought from a garden club friend for $10. She tried to sell it in the paper and tried to give it away with no takers. Can you believe it? It is from around the turn of the century. It is a really dark color and I had to strip it which took off too much of the dark color. So then I had to add stain to darken it. I try to stay true to the antiques and I found these sewing machines usually had varnish on them. I researched tung oil and found that it is basically a varnish. This is what I use on antiques (with the stain as necessary). It is coming out beautifully and tonight will be the last coat of stain. Yahoo! It is not pretty sitting in my living room and the stain smells awful.

    People always seem to have the treadles down here. I will keep my eyes open for you as I know you sew. I use them for stands in the living room and couldn't use a sewing machine to save my life. I stitch a mean handstitched quilt though. Just ask the girls. They still have theirs from when they were babies.

    Who else but Nicky would get your sewing machine? Zach? I wouldn't think so. Of course it is hers so take good care of it! That is what Jimmy tells me and I know the girls are thinking it too for some of my stuff. Actually I am thinning out and getting rid of stuff. I finally just gave away my Encyclopedia Britannica on Freecycle. I had toted them everywhere for more than 20 years and I was sentimental about them but had to make room for more gardening books. lol.

    I don't know what kind of grass that is that grows in water. Does it spread quite freely? It sounds pretty. You can show me when we next come and visit. I am suprised you don't have grass growing in your little pond out back. Do you still have the pond? Is it frozen enough to ice skate?

    It is definitely better to stain before installing deck or fence rails. I always try to do that too.
    Can't wait to see your house.

    Anyhow, I am a chatty person. My apologies to everyone with my longwindedness. I can't even say goodbye in a short way. lol It is nice sharing and I am a good typist. Good thing Jack of all trades drove today in the snow. When it snows here I try not to go anywhere at all. Very dangerous down here!