People often ask me, “What’s your favorite plant?” My answer is always the same. It depends. Partly it’s the old song, “When I’m not with the plant I love I love the plant I’m with.” But I think maybe the answer really is, Poppies. Specifically red Poppies. Annuals, Papaver rhoes –Flanders Poppies or Corn Poppies — as here, scattered in the Nepeta, the beginning of my succession garden.
But also the perennial Poppies, Papaver orientale Beauty of Livermere,
much taller and more dramatic.
I am hoping these will be available this fall for next year’s bloom.
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
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
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.