Sometimes Failure is an Option

There are two plants – two ornamental grasses actually  — that are so mouthwateringly gorgeous that I am willing to try them just on the slight chance  that they will succeed here.

Mexican Feather Grass

Mexican Feather Grass

One is Mexican Feather Grass, Stipa tenuissima.  There is no grass so beautiful.  It dances in graceful, golden elegance in the slightest breeze.  And a whole meadow filled with it, and combined with a scattering of Flanders Poppies – well it is definitely worth trying.  I have seen it described as only hardy to Zone 7.   I am in Zone 6 now, but it is growing successfully at the nearby Overland Park Botanical Garden.   The bigger problem may be the soil.  This grass needs dry sandy soil, and ours is rather clay.   I have been obsessing about this for months now and I finally decided to try a small area of it in the meadow.  If it succeeds and comes back for a couple of years I will expand it until it fills the meadow.  (Be still my heart!)


Pink Muhly Grass

Pink Muhly Grass

The other grass I am trying is pink Muhly Grass, Muhlenbergia capillaris.  I have seen it described as hardy to Zone 5, or Zone 6, or Zone 7.  This picture shows why I want it.  It blooms like this in late August to October, and where I want to put it, at the back of the Red Border, it should serve as a backlit red glow all through autumn.

I guess this is the place to quote from Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem In Memoriam:27, 1850:

‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

4 thoughts on “Sometimes Failure is an Option

    • Barbara I just noticed that you had asked about Stipa a couple of years ago. I’m sorry to say it didn’t work for me. My soil is heavy clay. I have so much water that I once watched a crawdaddy strolling along the lawn in front of the house. (There is a creek meandering through the property). I’ve given up on the Stipa, though if I can find a client who has better soil and less water they will definitely have Stipa as part of the planting plan.

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