Saturday, September 18, 2010

Native Plants of Franklin

Greetings Franklin! Did you recognize what type of plant last week's mystery flower belongs to?

If you said "grass" you are correct!

I'm a little embarrassed to say that I'm not sure which type of grass this is. I had thought it was big bluestem, Andropogon gerardi, but I lost the plant tag. Drat. At any rate, it's a native grass that I bought from Garden in the Woods a few years back, and it has been a show-stopper in my garden ever since.

This particular native grass grows into a very tall clump, that, as you can see, is currently almost as tall as me. But native grasses come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, quite a few of which are fun for gardens as well as good for wildlife.

You may not have ever thought before about grass having flowers, but grass is a type of flowering plant. You just have to look closely to see the flowers.

You typically don't see flowers on mowed lawns because the grass needs to reach a taller height in order to produce flowers.

Native grasses aren't typically used in lawns. However, unlike the imported lawn grasses, native grasses handle our native growing conditions far better than their lawn counterparts. The grass I show above, for instance, remained emerald green throughout this summer's drought, even though I hardly ever watered it.

The next time you find yourself in a unmowed area, have a look at the grass, and see if you can't spot the flowers.

Here is next week's native plant:

Here is a hint: the fruit is a lot more interesting than the flowers.

Happy plant-sleuthing!

Michelle Clay writes about gardening here in Franklin at the Clueless Gardeners Blog.

Franklin, MA

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