August 24, 2014

Plant of the Month: Purple Love Grass

eragrostis

I'm starting to appreciate grasses more. I think this new appreciation started at Kew Gardens in London (you can click the link to read a previous post about it). Scott Weber's blog at Rhone Street Gardens also provides continuous inspiration regarding the beauty and creative uses of grasses in a garden setting.

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Lovely view we happened upon during a hike earlier this summer.

One of my favorite native, local grasses is Purple Love Grass (Erogrostis spectabilis). (Isn't that a great Latin name?)

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When oblique late-summer light hits it just right, Purple Love Grass is a stunning sight to behold.

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Bright pink cloud.

Depending on its stage during the growing season and the way the light hits it, tufts of this grass appear bright green, purple, pink, or bright pink.

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Our meadow: E. spectabilis starting to brown, but still lovely.

Interestingly, we have a naturally occurring patch of it up at the cottage. It stretches through our property, between the properties of the neighbors on both sides. They were friends--two couples who've since moved away and/or moved on. But the Purple Love Grass remains. Isn't that sweet?

The neighbors had asked if we minded if they walked through our property to visit each other, and we said "No problem, feel free!" I'm glad, because this beautiful grass, along with a collection of mostly native perennials has created a lovely meadow where their path once traveled.

Purple Love Grass is native to much of the Eastern U.S.--from the Dakotas and points east, south to Arizona, Texas, and Florida. It's also native in parts of Mexico, according to the Missouri Botanical Garden. It prefers sandy or well-drained soil, with dry to medium precipitation. It grows best in sunny locations. It tolerates drought and Black Walnut trees (which we have in abundance at the cottage).

The foliage reaches a height of about 10 inches. Then, in late summer pinkish/purple flowers appear, and form a cloud of beauty up to a height of about two feet.

Another attribute--Purple Love Grass is photogenic:

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42 comments:

  1. Lovely presentation.

    Erasgrostis grows here in the meadows. A large patch of it with a mowed path through or along it is thrilling to see.

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    1. Oh, that would be lovely! Our land (before we bought it) was completely mowed over, so it's fascinating to see what has grown naturally, with little effort on our parts. We pull invasives as much as possible, but most of the plants that grow there are native noninvasives. One of my favorites is the Erogrostis.

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  2. Dear Beth, that Purple Love Grass is certainly beautiful! I like grasses in general, but design-wise I am having a hard time to make them work in my garden. Still I gave it a shot and planted a type of chartreuse millet grass, but somehow it doesn't take (yet). Maybe as we are moving forward into autumn is will be able to put roots down.
    Wishing you a nice week!
    Christina

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    1. I have trouble with the design part of grasses, too, Christina. Actually, my garden here at home is so shady that very few grasses thrive here. It's nice to have a bit of land with more sun, so I can enjoy a little of both. I hope the Millet Grass fills in nicely for you this fall. I'll look forward to a post about it!

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  3. It's so beautiful! I guess I have ever seen this kind of grass here on the meadow or bare land, but I'm not sure they are the same grass. Here, the flower of the similar grass like it is usually used to be dried for handy craft.
    It looks so interesting, and gives more color on the meadow.
    Thank you for sharing

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    1. Interesting that you have a similar grass in Indonesia. The flowers on this one are pretty small, but I could see gathering a bunch of it for an arrangement. I think I read somewhere that people use it for dried arrangements. Yes, the color is very pretty.

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  4. Wow! Your meadow is breathtaking! The Purple Love grass in in its perfect setting there. It could not look better if it was designed by some famous landscape artist! I enjoyed reading its history with the two neighbors.

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    1. Someone the other day asked me about my garden up at the cottage, and I mentioned that it's mostly natural. All 1.67 acres of it were mowed before we purchased it. We put a small double-wide on it, and we mow the front and a portion of the back. But most of it is now light woods and meadows. I'm endlessly fascinated with the plants I find there. :)

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  5. Indeed is photogenic! I share with you the love of grasses and those Gardeners who using them in their designs convert them in art forms, such as Oudolf from The Netherlands. Your images here show a lovely meadow to walk through, you are so generous to allow your neighbours to enjoy your landscape!

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    1. I'm learning to appreciate them, Lula. My garden isn't the best place for grasses because it's very shady, but it's fun to see them growing naturally up at the cottage. Maybe someday I'll have a garden with a little more sun. I do appreciate them in other people's gardens, though. :)

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  6. I really do love your Purple Love Grass. You show us a perfect series of photos of this Erogrostis spectabilis with even a beautiful common name.

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    1. Thank you for your kind comments. I agree--both the common name and the Latin name for this one are fabulous, just like the plant.

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  7. It is such a nice time of year to see the grasses in the meadows, especially all the red varieties like your Purple Love Grass. You are right, it is very photogenic with the light hitting it just right. Your photos reminded me a lot of the one's Scott posts. Very nice Beth.

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    1. Thanks, Donna. I can't come close to Scott's talent, but he's definitely helped me to see grasses in a different way. Amazing garden photographer! I was a little disappointed that the PLG is fading a bit up at the cottage already. I had hoped to get a more vibrant shot of the meadow, but my timing was off by a couple of weeks. Still, it's a great grass--even when it browns.

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  8. It is pretty, isn't it? I saw some recently at Grady Tract/UW Arboretum. So lovely the way the sun hits it.

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    1. Yes, Heather. I don't think I quite captured the magic of it. Maybe next year my timing will be better and we'll be up at the cottage at the right time on the right day. ;-)

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  9. Now is the time to appreciate grasses. This one is a real beauty. I am going to look out for it.

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    1. Yes, true Chloris. They were so impressive at Kew last October--a lightbulb went on for me at that display!

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  10. What a beautiful grass, especially in its early days. Thanks for introducing me to it.

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    1. Yes, actually it's prettiest about halfway through it's blooming time--when some of the flowers have pouffed into clouds of pinkish purple. I wish we'd gotten up to the cottage during that stage this year. But oh well, there's always next year. It is a great grass, though.

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  11. Beautiful, and your photos really bring out its character. Grasses are not easy to photograph. Wish I had some!

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    1. Thanks, Jason. This grass makes it easy. But it provides endless practice, since the photos don't really do it justice. I don't have many grasses in my "garden" either--it's too shady here. So, it's fun to see them growing naturally up at the cottage.

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  12. both the colour and shimmer make your grass a wonderful garden plant!

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    1. Yes, definitely a good plant for a sunny garden with sandy or well-draining soil. In oblique light it can really take your breath away.

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  13. It is very attractive. Pink is not the first color you associate with grasses.

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    1. It looks more pink in bright sun. On cloudier days, the color is a little more purple. Either way, it's a stunning plant if you catch it at its blooming peak.

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  14. It's beautiful, especially in a mass planting such as yours. Funny that I can't recall seeing it here in Southern California - according to my western garden guide, it's adapted to this area.

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    1. It reminds of Purple Muhly Grass, which I think has a slightly warmer zone range. I suppose they can fill similar niches in an organized garden. Both are stunning--massed or grouped with complementary plants.

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  15. This is a most beautiful grass and I love them in the garden. A friend gave me Eragrostis tef once and it was such a stunner. Happy gardening! Annette

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    1. Thanks, Annette! Happy gardening to you, too! I just looked up E. tef--wow! That one is a stunner, as well, with it's draping purplish plumes. I think I just need the right garden space for grasses--or maybe I should simply continue to appreciate them in naturalized areas! ;-)

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  16. Beautiful images, Beth! We have some growing in our MG Idea Garden, and it wasn't until recently that I realized it was a native plant. I've always loved Pink Muhly grass, but it's not really hardy here, so I've never tried to plant it. Purple Love grass seems as if it could be a good alternative.

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    1. Thank you, Rose. Yes, at first I thought our grass at the cottage was Muhly grass, and then I looked closer at the seedhead/flowers and realized it's Eragrostis instead. I agree--they have similar structures, behaviors, and colors.

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  17. Oh Beth it is stunning and added to my list of must haves....I really love grasses and am replacing some non-natives that have died with natives...this will be perfect.

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    1. Good--you introduced me to Northern Sea Oats, and I've introduced you to Purple Love Grass. Gardening, observing, blogging, and comparing notes are all so rewarding, aren't they?! :) Cheers!

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  18. Lovely color from the grass flowers. I would love to have some grasses that were pretty in the fall, I have so many weedy grasses that are not.

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    1. This one fades a bit in fall, but you could probably mow it at that stage if you wanted to. Or, there are so many grasses that have an amazing presence in the fall and through the winter. I think it would be fun sometime to have a small grass garden, with several types of grasses together. :)

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  19. feeling reflective as we are locked in winter storms, I have 2 lessons for your meme in today's post. Pruning roses and striking cuttings.
    http://elephantseyegarden.blogspot.com/2014/08/a-swartland-garden-in-august.html

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    1. Your post is beautiful, Diana. Springtime in South Africa! Your winter storms seem bearable compared with our brutal, snowy, blistery junk. But I guess it's all a matter of perception. But your mild weather is right around the corner. Thanks for joining in the meme!

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  20. Nice story about the neighbors. It adds poignancy to an already beautiful post.

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  21. And summer end bring them out in full dress/color . . .
    Very nice . . .

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  22. It's a beauty, for sure! I think it looks best en masse, though, or with other grasses. When its planted as a single, the effect is lost. How wonderful that your meadow is appreciated as a meadow not an empty field in need of a mower. :o)

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  23. When i saw the first photo, i immediately thought i will tell you Scott's photos, but then you said it. His photos are always awesome and inspiring, and your shots here are wonderful too.

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