two little grasses

Usually, grass plants are removed from the garden with unhesitating passion. Among invasives, grasses are without doubt the most troublesome. They are so insistent, so hard to control, that they are almost completely prohibited within the deep nature garden. But sometimes I make an exception.

Above is a panicle (flowering stem) of a delicate little grass growing with minty-looking lemon balm in the shade under some bushes.

Grasses are notoriously hard to identify. The one pictured above could be bentgrass (Agrostis or Polypogon) or it might be orchardgrass (Dactylis glomerata) or maybe velvetgrass (Holcus lanatus) or even some type of bluegrass (Poa sp.). A detail identification could require close inspection with a hand lens. Whatever it is, it’s pretty and as long as it behaves itself it’s welcome here.

Here is another pretty little grass in the same shady patch, arcing out above a tiny live-oak seedling. This one could be a brome, possibly Japanese brome (Bromus japonicus).

Graceful shapes and subtle hues of green and yellow amply reward close inspection of the nodding flowers.

When this garden was first handed off to me by the previous gardener, it was chock full of crabgrass, fescue, and bluegrass, all left over from the time when the garden was mostly lawn, some years back.

Many hours of pulling were required to remove all the grasses, but there came a time when it was clear that not only had the crabgrass been successfully extirpated, but also almost all other kinds of grass.

To this day, the only grasses that are allowed to grow to reproduction age are small, non-threatening, interesting kinds like these two – and they are watched closely! If they get too big they are drastically limited.

You say you like lawns? Don’t get me started.

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