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I'm a woman entering "the third chapter" and fascinated by the journey.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Another guilty pleasure

Anyone who knows me knows that I try to avoid invasive plants whenever possible. Battling the English ivy, vinca, rose of sharon, and burning bush seedlings in our current inherited garden is an object lesson in why one might not wish to grow Plants That Escape. However, a confession: I truly love Mexican feather grass (Nassella tenuissima) and grow it both in pots and in the ground.

Any grass that is this lush, this early in the summer, in the generally-inhospitable space between two sidewalks, a street, and a driveway, sets my plant-lover's heart to fluttering. The fact that it requires no supplemental watering or pruning is a real plus for the lazy gardener.

And who could not love that sweet wispiness behind the gaudy assertiveness of verbena and geranium?

Feather grass, when happy, can even form a low hedge--and it plays well with others, like coreopsis,

butterfly weed, and dwarf goldenrod.

What's not to love?

A cautionary note is, unfortunately, required: Nassella's native range in the US is confined to parts of Texas and New Mexico, and it has become a serious invasive in portions of California and the Southwest, where conservation organizations are asking gardeners not to plant it. It is listed as not hardy in zone 6, but it has perennialized for me in two gardens; our warmer winters may eventually allow it to naturalize. Having grown the plant for the last eight years, I have yet to see volunteers but know that I will have to watch to make sure it doesn't escape and threaten any of our area's lovely but later-flourishing grasses.

For now, I make time most days to watch the sun light up this favorite grass.

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