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This week in your Massachusetts garden & landscape

Week of August 7, 2017

“Grasses are pioneer plants.  They are the first to grow in disturbed and destroyed nature.  Their diversity in appearance and in growing regions is unequaled.  Grasses are found on all continents to the reaches of Antarctica; where nothing else will grow, one will find a grass.  And now grasses are finally being recognized for their phenomenal contribution to landscaping.  For every niche of our lives there is a grass that harmonizes and further beautifies the space.”  Kurt Bluemel, The Color Encyclopedia of Ornamental Grasses

Ornamental grasses simply complete a landscape when properly placed.  They add an element of simplicity, yet can be “show stopping” when their plumes are dancing in the breeze.  As in anything else, less tends to be more.  Too many, or overuse, of ornamental grasses diminishes their beauty.  The texture of their fine foliage coupled with the abundance of colors and sizes makes them a fun choice to add to any landscape.  The larger cultivars such as Miscanthus sinensis ‘Graziella’ are particularly nice planted in the back row of a landscape.  They also serve the great purpose of concealing something such as an electric box within the landscape.  Some of the smaller cultivars are wonderful accents for the border.  Consider Festuca ovina ‘Elijah Blue’ for its beautiful blue color.  Be careful in your selections as some ornamental grasses can be invasive.  Also, place them in a space that you will want to keep them as their roots do go all the way to China and thinning/dividing is not easy.  As always, check with your favorite garden center for the best selections.  Then sit back and watch those plumes dance!

  • Pruning deciduous bushes with hand pruners, not hedge shears, will give you the best results.
  • Consider the native alternative Rosa setigera ‘Climbing Prairie Rose’ in place of the invasive shrub Rosa multiflora; R. rugosa ‘Beach Rose’.
  • Create a beautiful fall container garden with a mix of Linaria ‘Enchantment’, Viola ‘Matrix Sunrise’ and Phlox ‘21st Century Buttercream’.
  • Continue harvesting small, flavorful summer squash.  Steaming, rather than boiling, when cooking will best preserve their flavor.  Toss a little butter and fresh herbs on top and you have a delicious side dish.
  • Protect all plants from Japanese beetles.  Handpicking is the best defense.

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