The Understated Elegance of Switchgrass

23 Jul

This is the time in my garden when the show-stoppers from June have faded away and the autumn-flowering beauties have yet to burst forth.  I have not quite been able to ensure a completely steady stream of new blooms from March through October. A few troopers are still hanging in there, but this is when the ornamental grasses shine. There are two grasses in my garden: Porcupine Grass and Switchgrass  (Shenandoah). If plants can be categorized according to personality type, then there is no question as to which is the extrovert and which is the introvert.

Porcupine Grass grows like mad, has beautiful stripes, and is more than 6′ tall; it rarely gets overlooked. Here is a photo of it at eye level — it is tall, lush, and spectacular, a show-off in a garden of  show-offs:

But there comes a point at which the Porcupine Grass is too much: too tall, too bold, too loud.  And it is precisely then that the slower-growing Switchgrass comes into its own. Tucked away in a far part of the garden, it rarely gets much attention. But it is a gorgeous grass, with burgundy tips and delicate spikelets (flowers)–the epitome of elegance.  Proof, again, that quieter personalities have a great deal to offer any garden.

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