Hanging by a thread

Japanese beetles hatched recently from the turf in the Arboretum Grass Collection and are “piling on” and hanging by a thread on this ‘Shenandoah’ switchgrass flower on July 15, 2014. Japanese beetle adults do not eat grasses, but they congregate on leaves, mate and look for other food. IMG_7413 

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Edging Makes a Difference

With the help of great volunteers, 2 of the grass beds are edged and beautiful! Weed free, with a new mulched path, the collection is looking great! IMG_7614

IMG_7616

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Landscape Fabric lives Forever

IMG_7300Greg Nelson, fabulous volunteer, removed this huge 27 year old landscape fabric from one of the Grass Collection beds this morning. Yeah Greg!! Just when you are sure its gone, it appears under roots, soil and seems to multiple. We installed it originally thinking it would reduce weeds. It did not and I regret that day we installed it. The tough grasses have grown over it and sometimes through it, and we can almost hear the plants cheer when it comes out. No decomposition here, just a pointless barrier for air and moisture.

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Japanese Beetles are out

IMG_7303Here is the first Japanese beetle I have seen in 2014. Is is resting on giant miscanthus in the Grass Collection at the Arboretum. Japanese beetles do not feed on ornamental grass foliage, they just rest there, while looking for raspberries, or grapes, their favorites.

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Kurt Bluemel: Father of Ornamental Grasses in the US

Kurt Bluemel died on Wed. June 4, 2014 at the age of 81. He introduced many people in the U.S. to ornamental grasses. From Rockefeller Center to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Kurt had he vision that grasses could and should cover the globe. He befriended me as a graduate student at Cornell, when he was just starting out with his own nursery. He supplied grasses for the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum’s NAPCC Grass Collection and he was the ‘go to’ person for any questions on grasses. I spent a week at his Florida nursery one February transplanting grasses and learning the tropical kinds grown there. We have lost a great horticulturist and spokesperson for grasses. For more information see: Prairie Blog and Baltimore Sun.

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Grass, Weed or Seedling?

One of the hardest things in the Grass Collection at the Arboretum is weeding good grasses from the weedy ones. And when seedlings are added to the mix, this is what you get: Image

in the photo, there is one tall shoot of quackgrass in the center of this clump; most of the small seedlings are weeds, Seteria or foxtail, I think, and at the edges, left and back are some shoots of the grass tath is supposed to be here: a variegated Miscanthus ‘Rigoletto’. It can be a challenge to know what is what. Early spring is a time for weeding, weeding, weeding!

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Suddenly Summer

After a rough winter, growth is slow, but all of the plants in the national grass trials are coming along, see that blog: grasstrials.com.

I will do the final winter survival next week, yes the week of June 1 to determine what is dead or alive from the winter of 2013-14. Strictus at my home is very weak, 3-4 small stems coming from a 10 year old plant. Image

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