Pennisetum doughnut


Fountain grass Pennisetum alopecuroides is not a reliably winter hardy grass in Minnesota. ‘Ginger Love’ is a flowering doughnut (photo above) this August in the Arboretum’s Grass Collection. Additionally this species can self-sow and grow in turfgrass, where it’s very hard to kill. New sterile forms of this species are being trialed at the Arboretum this summer, but they have yet to flower, and hardiness is unknown.

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Rust on many grasses in August


Orange pustules on these Kentucky bluegrass blades is common in August. Sometimes your shoes may turn orange from walking on perennial ryegrass that has rust. While not usually fatal, rust can turn an entire plant tan or brown and weakens the plants. Keep foliage dry, avoid overhead watering and improve air circulation around plants to avoid rust. Big and little bluestem and ‘Karl Forester’ feather reedgrass also get rust.

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What’s wrong with these grasses?

Many yellow stems and flowers on Molinia and Sporobolus, stems come out easily from plant and with close examination, the stems are cut off…mice damage in the summer! Mice are living in these bunch grasses and having a good time. Can we set traps in a public garden or should we use bait? Mice are visibly seen scurrying from one plant to another….how many are there? Time to take action!

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Skippers on Bee Lawn

It’s great to see pollinators in the Arboretum Bee Lawn trials. Skippers were out on a recent bright warm sunny day:

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Carex ‘Straw Hat’

Carex ‘Straw Hat’ is a new selection of Carex pensylvanica, shown on June 27 left ,and May 11, 2018, right. Many early spring flowers with thick foliage.

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Winter Injury 2017-18

Do we ever stop talking about winter injury in Minnesota? Waiting until early June to determine the death count has been my practice. Here is the list for this past winter for the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum’s Grass Collection:

2017-18 Totally dead   followed by year planted
Schizachyrium scoparium
       ‘Twlight Zone’                 2014
‘Good Vibrations’            2015
Bouteloua gracilis ‘Blond Ambition’   2017 (3 plants); 2016 (1 plant)
‘Bandwidth’               2017
‘Scout’                         2017
‘My Fair Maiden’       2017
‘Adagio’                      2017
‘Little Miss’                 2017
‘Tiger Tail’                  2017
Carex ‘Snow Cap’       2015
Carex ‘Ice Dance’       2015
Carex ‘Ice Cream’       2015
Carex ‘Everroro’         2015
Carex plantaginea       2005 (weak going into winter)
Winter injury on Panicum ‘Thundercloud’, left and ‘Cloud 9’.

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Bulbs and Grasses

Look closely: you can hardly see the grass in this ‘Altruist’ daffodil plus grass combination, but as the bulb foliage dies, the prairie dropseed grasses will take over. daffodils with dropseed sculpture gardenSpring bulbs with grasses are a great combination as Erik Lemke, Minnesota Landscape Gardener, shows in his photo of the Sculpture Garden that he manages.

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