Monday, July 5, 2010

Plant of the Month: June 2010

It was a tough choice this month, but the judges determined that Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Overdam’ played both the crucial starring and supporting roles in the Last Frontier Garden.  One judge was overheard to say, '’Without it, this garden has the structure and dimensional qualities of a Monopoly board,” another: “no point in looking out the window between November and June if it wasn’t there.”  And my personal favorite, “it gives the illusion she knows what she’s doing.”  Don’t be too hard on those critical judges…this being the age of full disclosure and all, the “judges” are in actual fact, me.

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Where: Full sun is ideal, but in my experience, part day shade is acceptable.  More upright in full sun.

Calamagrostis 'Overdam' in March

When: Early spring (that’d be May here) through early to mid winter (December or January but depends on location and how deep the snow is), flowering begins in late June or early July here in Alaska.

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How: Enjoys good garden soils that are irrigated, but can handle heavy clay and what the rain brings (we get about 16 inches of precipitation annually, by the way), I never fertilize and they look great.  Cut down in early spring to about two or three inches.

Calamagrostis 'Overdam'

Why:

1. Nothing much happening in early spring here except the occasional bulb…and this grass.  The first perennial up and growing in my garden.  Covers ripening bulb foliage as it leafs out.  And honestly, who wants to look at those decaying daffodil or Allium leaves?

2. I’ve never had to treat for pests or diseases and never staked it.  Since I”m a low maintenance gardener (code for lazy), I could stop my list right there and be satisfied.

3. It looks good with any color as a neighbor, including toughies (OK, for me at least) like raspberry, scarlet, and orange-y gold.

4. Linear leaf shape compliments coarse leaf shapes like oriental poppies that can be difficult to place.

5. When used in quantity, can provide rhythm.

6. Moves in the lightest breeze, animating the garden.

7. Provides a pleasing rustling sound as it sways, that is if you can hear it over the neighbor’s annoying dog barking.  Quiet, Chester, quiet!

8. Seven reasons is all I do…if you’ve had experience with it and can add another reason, please comment.

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Had any experience with this grass?  What was your favorite plant for June?

14 comments:

Rebecca @ In The Garden said...

Beautiful grass! I love grasses in the garden (which might be hard to believe, since I don't have a single one), but I really think they are stunning. Great judges comments :).

Kate said...

Love this! I live in a very windy spot so it's always nice to plant things that wave back and forth. My favorite plant in June - hands down the Columbines. They're such happy bloomers.

Elephant's Eye said...

My June plant is still Lachenalia. I love bulbs and they flower in the most amazing colours. Long glossy leaves, often with maroon spots.

And grasses, yes please!

Noelle said...

I love ornamental grasses and yours is just beautiful. I imagine that in winter, they provide texture to your garden as well?

jeansgarden said...

Christine, I've never grown ornamental grasses, but this one is really lovely. I enjoyed all your reasons; maybe I should re-think grasses. -Jean

Jim Groble said...

The grass looks great. I love the ligularia on your side bar. Do slugs attack them? jim

Melanie said...

It's beautiful Christine. Grassses blowing in the wind are a lovely sight.

Kimberly said...

Great pick! Ornamental grasses, of any kind, add texture color and movement to your landscape all year long. Lovely!!!

Pam's English Garden said...

Christine, I love roses in June, but they don't compare with your ornamental grass for ease of care. I have several grasses. My favorite is purple fountain grass which I grow as an annual. I'm in the wrong zone to grow it as a perennial. Pam x

hazeltree said...

lovely choice..we grow calamagrostis acutifolia 'karl foerster' which stands tall and upright, a meter high... like a sentry on guard...three together are superb...

Grace Peterson said...

Christine, This is a great plant, indeed. It used to be 'Carl Forrester' this and 'Carl Forrester' that, while poor 'Overdam' was overlooked. Damn, it's just not fair. Finally people are starting to get it. Nothing against Carl, but come on dude, give the other guys a chance. :)

Wendy said...

This is a great grass! If it can give the illusion I know what I'm doing, I'm getting it!

My favorite plant for June might be...Russian Sage? Unfortunately, my Russian sage has gone crazy this year, but most years, It's a great foil for most any other plant in the garden. It's also the plant my eyes land on from afar.

thyme2garden said...

Hi there, I found your blog while searching for vegetable gardening blogs in Alaska. I was just curious to see what people grow in different climates and what different challenges there are. I just started my vegetables garden in Indiana this year, and am learning lots about the joys of growing vegetables as well as the frustration dealing with various kinds of pests. Do you grow any vegetables in your garden?

By the way, your ornamental grass is really pretty. I've been swamped trying to learn about vegetables and herbs, but eventually I would like to venture out and learn about other things like ornamental grasses and flowers.

Sara said...

I haven't killed it yet. I think it's sharp edges discourage foraging by animals of all sizes.

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