By Amy Lentz, Weld County Extension
I know most of you are itching for Spring…I am too, trust me! However, there are still many things in the landscape that can peak your horticultural interests like evergreen trees and perennial plants that were not cut back in the fall. But, my favorite thing to look at in the winter are the amazing ornamental grasses that grow so well in Colorado. Most of us think of mountains when we think of Colorado, but about 40% of our state is a prairie – perfect for growing grasses.
A couple weeks ago, on a nice warm winter day, I decided to go check out some wonderful grasses growing at one of my favorite public gardens in northern Colorado, Treasure Island Demonstration Garden in Windsor.
|The grass garden at Treasure Island Demonstration Garden in Windsor, CO.|
The first grass that grabbed by attention as I was walking around the garden was Miscanthus sinensis 'Strictus' (aka porcupine grass, Chinese silver grass or maidenhair grass).
This particular grass is not native to Colorado, but grows quite well along the lower elevations of the front range. It grows to a height of between 4 and 9 feet and a spread of 2 to 6 feet. The fall/winter color is a standard 'straw' color, but it's the seed head that will make you stop in your tracks and say "what is that?"!
|Miscanthus sinensis plant|
|Wow - Miscanthus seed heads|
|Little bluestem seed heads|
|Bouteloua gracilis 'Blonde Ambition'|
A few other grasses in the garden deserve mentioning, as well, for their great seed heads. Switchgrass has amazing seed heads that remind me of fireworks.
|Switchgrass seed heads|
Korean feather reed grass has seed heads that are upright and bushy and are easily noticed from afar.
|Korean feather reed grass seed heads|
Prairie dropseed is a native grass that has cute 'bottle brush' type seed heads that stand high above the mound of grass.
|Prairie drop seed|