I'm not a grass person. But during our recent trip to London's Kew Gardens, I decided to move beyond my comfort zone, open my mind a little, and spend some time in Kew's Grass Garden.
I may just be a convert.
Was it because of the perfect weather (18C/64F, partly cloudy, calm)? The fact that I was on vacation? The season? Or something else?
Perhaps it was because of the incredibly artful way that Kew has arranged its grass collection: 550 species from around the world. And the time of day: midafternoon, which meant the sun was shining on, around, and through the grasses in spectacular ways. How could I resist?
I took 225 photos at Kew--63 of them at the Grass Garden, alone. It was lovely. Here are a few highlights:
Shenandoah Switch Grass (Panicum virgatum), native to most of North America.
Purple Moor Grass (Molinia caerulea), native to Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa. This particular cultivar is 'Poul Petersen.' It forms purple flower spikes in the spring and summer that resemble Lavender from a distance.
Hare's Tail (Lagurus ovatus), a Mediterranean grass.
Medusahead (Taeniatherum caput-medusae), native to Southern Europe and North Africa.
Pampas Grass (Cortaderia selloana), native to Southern South America.
Northern Sea Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium), native to much of the Eastern and Central U.S. and Northern Mexico. I've been meaning to add this grass to my garden because I find it attractive, and because it's one of the few grasses native to my area that thrives in partial shade.
Switch Grass (Panicum virgatum), native throughout most of Canada, the U.S., and Mexico. This cultivar is 'Squaw,' which blooms with a cloud of pinkish flower heads.
Himalayan Fairy Grass (Miscanthus nepalensis), native to parts of Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.
Blue Grama Grass (Bouteloua gracilis), native to much of the U.S., but common in the Midwest and West.
Japanese Blood Grass (Imperata cylindrica), native to parts of Asia, Micronesia, Melanesia, Australia, and parts of Africa. This cultivar is 'Rubra.'
Korean Feather Reed Grass (Calamagrostis brachytricha).
I could go on and on. But the true beauty of the grasses at Kew extends beyond their individual merits to the way the botanical garden has them combined in artful waves of color, texture, height, and form.
(Just four days after our visit, London experienced a major windstorm. Fortunately, Kew reported it lost only 12 of its 14,000 trees, and the damage otherwise was minimal. I wonder how the Grass Garden fared.)