Muhly Watch Friday

September 24, 2009 026 (2)
The wait may nearly be over. The time has finally arrived. The muhly grass, Muhlenbergia capillaris has begun to pinky-purple up.

September 16, 2009 059 (2)
Recent rains of biblical proportions have kept the camera safely inside the dry house for extended periods. If the clouds part and the sky brightens just a bit, the muhly grass was snapped quickly before the drops starting falling yet again. It was the official muhly watch, begun on September 16. The bloom is only just beginning on that date. There is still lots of white showing at the leaf blade axil where the flower stalk emerges, at first quite pale then darkening as it lengthens.

September 18, 2009 052 (2)
Two days later, it is still raining. The view from the street of the east side of the semi-circular driveway lets the eye detect just a bit more pinking. (And the new rusty iron half-urn planter standing under the grapevine wreath made many years ago by The Financier.) We have this luxurious driveway not because our house is an estate or mansion, it is in fact quite modest, but because we bought the very tiny one bedroom cinder block house next door, knocked it down and built the garage which is larger than our main house. We inherited a second driveway with the block house and joined the two to make this fancy shmancy though steep driveway. To read about the hatching of the idea to plant a mass of muhly along the side click here.

September 20, 2009 003 (2)
Two more days, it is still raining. It is difficult to detect any difference in the pinkness. Maybe this is not going to get any more colorful due to all this rain. Or something. Worry seeps in the cerebral folds.

September 24, 2009 020 (2)
Four days later, it stops raining! And lo, looking pretty dadburn pink! Maybe the sunlight helps the colors appear brighter and richer, or maybe the inflorescences have finally fully opened the entire length of the stalk. In case anyone wonders, there are probably fifty to sixty plants packed into this space. Two one gallon pots were bought at the big box store several years ago and have been divided and divided to fill this space and others around and about. There are now seedlings appearing, usually in the gravel paths that can be added for more girth to the plantings.

September 18, 2009 022 (2)
Would you like an instant replay from another angle, like on ESPN? Through the magic of pixie pixels here is the view from the garage on September 18. It is raining again.

September 20, 2009 001 (2)
Another two days pass, still raining.

September 24, 2009 019 (2)
Sun and shadows have returned after four more days of waiting and the color is definitely getting there. Pink pride, pink perfection, pink , wait a minute where is that word list, ah, pink magma.

September 23, 2009 006 (2)
Muhly grass is planted in various other places around the Fairegarden besides the driveway. In the back yard the steep north facing slope is much sunnier than the driveway area most of the day, when it is not raining that is. While pretty, the pinkness is not as apparent. It may be that the mass planting smashes those pigment containing molecules closer together making the grass appear more saturated with color. Backlighting occurs in spring and fall on this slope as the sun sinks lower on the horizon.

September 23, 2009 004 (3)
This is the view out the back door. It is better looking in real life, the textures of the foliage are better captured by the human eye than the camera eye, depth perception adds much to the visual feast. But there is something in this photo that is not immediately noticed. Let us enlarge the image.

September 23, 2009 004 (2)
Do you see it? Interrupted from feeding at the purple velvet plumes of Salvia leucantha, the hummingbird turns its piercing stare to the pesky camera toting gardener. She is always out there bobbing around when the rain takes a break and there is nectar to be sipped. The image had to be greatly cropped to show the flapping winged visitor, so it is somewhat fuzzy. Life is not always crystal clear.

Some facts about the muhly grass from an article in Fine Gardening magazine:

Muhlenbergia capillaris

Height- 3 ft. to 6 ft.
Spread- 1 ft. to 3 ft.
Growth Habit- Clumps
Growth Pace- Moderate Grower
Light- Full Sun to Part Shade
Moisture- Adaptable
Maintenance- Low
Tolerance- Deer Tolerant;Drought Tolerant
USDA Zones 7-10
Characteristics- Native; Self Seeds; Showy Flowers; Showy Foliage; Showy Seed Heads
Bloom Time- Fall
Flower Color- Pink Flower; Purple/ Lavender Flower
Uses- Beds and Borders, Container, Ground Covers, Cut Flower, Dried Flower, Naturalizing, Specimen Plant/ Focal Point, Suitable as Annual, Waterside
Style Cottage Garden, Meadow Garden
Seasonal Interest- Winter Interest, Summer Interest, Fall Interest
Type- Grasses

The muhly grass will be featured in future posts until we are all sick of looking at it. From last year’s images, the color will leave the building sometime in December. It will be cut to the ground in January to begin the wait until next September once again.


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48 Responses to Muhly Watch Friday

  1. Frances, this grass is so pretty, it actually reminds me of candy floss. I am sure I am not the only one lamenting that it is not hardy for me.

    Thanks Deborah. It is the pride of the garden here. πŸ™‚

  2. lynnsgarden says:

    I rREALly want some pink cotton candy now…yes, at 6am in the morning! Beautiful, Frances, and I’m not surprised a hummer was visiting..your garden has such abundance to feed on. Have a wonderful Friday πŸ˜‰

    Hi Lynn, thanks. Yum, cotton candy, the perfect condiment for coffee! HA Have a nice weekend. πŸ™‚

  3. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    I always enjoy your cloud of pink. It gives fall a light graceful hue. Aren’t those hummers fun too?. The ones here in our garden show this pose often. Especially when they realize I am sitting in the Casa watching them. They make me feel like what I imagine an animal in the zoo feels like when someone stares at them.

    Thanks Lisa. The hummers are always out and about, but rarely sit still when I have the camera. This was just a fluke, but made me smile. They do seem to own the garden instead of the other way around, don’t they? πŸ™‚

  4. tina says:

    It sure reminds one of pink cotton candy-so sweet. I can only envy you your patience and diligence and don’t think the muhly could get any better. I do see the hummer-she is surely wondering what you are doing. Have a great weekend!

    Hi Tina, thanks. Gardening makes us have patience, whether we want to or not, don’t you think?

  5. RobinL says:

    Ah yes, I have been waiting for this lovely September sight! Well worth the weight. I have a new garden bed in mind, and just when I thought this might be the perfect resident there, I see it’s only hardy to zone 7. Darn it!

    Hi Robin, thanks. We are zone 7 here, but with very good drainage. It might winter over in zone 6 with extra good drainage and some protection?

  6. ourfriendben says:

    Drool. Spectacular, Frances! And I love your driveway, too. Now I guess I have both muhly and driveway envy! I wonder if the muhly would overwinter in the greenhouse here in Zone 6 if I grew it in two big containers, and if that would be enough to give any color impact? It’s SO lovely. Is that a rufous hummingbird, by the way? I’ve always hoped to see one here in ruby-throat territory…

    Hi OFB, thanks. The driveway really takes up a lot of valuable gardening space, but we have to be able to make the turn into the garage with two cars and it is so steep, but worth it. As for the overwintering question, only one way to find out! As for the hummer, I have seen ruby throats here but we have several so some might be the rufous which are known to be in this area. πŸ™‚

  7. Darla says:

    You are going to be so responsible for the increased sale of grasses! This is a stand on it’s own grass you have featured. Love it!! I don’t think you play blogging games, although I believe Bilbo would love a chance at winning a trip to your gardens.

    Thanks Darla, I should get a commission, don’t you think? HA Thanks too for thinking of me for the games, but time constraints have me barely able to keep up with the posts mounting up in my brain as is. πŸ™‚

  8. Gail says:

    My dear, I don’t think it’s possible to be sick of a flowering grass that changes so dramatically as its season progresses…As you’ve shown us so beautifully…Each day it becomes more vibrant. It isn’t any less a treat in December. Besides pink is practically perfect, don’t you think! gail ps Two things…I totally understand how difficult it is to get a landscape shot and the hummer is fantastic!

    Thanks Gail, since you have seen it at peak you know what an important role it plays in the garden here. The garden would be quite dull without it. Thanks for those tips on the phone about the landscape shots too. One of these days that new camera might get mastered. πŸ™‚

  9. autumnbelle says:

    Honestly, I have never seen pink grass before. It made me think of cotton candy in your earlier post. Now it is like the grass has been painted from an artist’s brush. Is this autumn’s blooms or leftover from summer?

    Hi Autumn Belle, thanks. This grass is not grown as widely as it should be in the areas where it is hardy here in the US. It blooms beginning mid September here, peaking mid October and lasting through November when the color finally fades to straw in December. We cut it to the ground in January and it just looks like any old grass as it regrows through spring and summer until the bloom stalks start growing in late summer to start the show again.

  10. Frances – we can never tire of the muhly show! Love the way light plays with the muhly display.


    Thanks Cameron. The muhly is the dominant feature in the garden for the next couple of months and we do cheer sunny days for the magic it works with the pink plumes. πŸ™‚

  11. Dave says:

    It’s an awesome grass for sure! I took a couple photos of ours this morning but it is way behind yours. I have three plants that hopefully I can expand in the spring.

    Thanks Dave. Just keep dividing it and then remember to keep it well watered until you see new growth and you will be showing grand stands of it on your nice large property! πŸ™‚

  12. Daphne Gould says:

    I cry every time you post about your muhly grass. I’m in zone 6b. It is so close to being hardy here, but it isn’t. I have muhly envy.

    Oh you are so close, Daphne. Have you given it a try? Maybe you could manage it with good drainage in a protected spot? πŸ™‚

  13. Janet says:

    Are there people who get sick of seeing that great Muhly grass? I find it magical. Love the little hummer hanging out in the photo!

    Maybe Janet, but they are too polite to say so! Thanks for your support too. You should be able to grow it at your new home? πŸ™‚

  14. lotusleaf says:

    Your backyard looks magical. I have seen similar pink grass growing wild here, but I dare not plant it as I am allergic to pollen and fluff.

    Thanks Lotusleaf. That is a shame about the allergy, but at least you can enjoy the beauty of it in your area. πŸ™‚

  15. Rose says:

    Aw, Frances, we’ll never get tired of looking at it! Especially those of us in northern zones who covet this pink confection but can’t grow it. It is certainly an eye-catching image for anyone driving up your “fancy-schmancy” driveway:)

    By the way, congratulations on all your Blotanical award nominations–well-deserved! It sure was hard, though, to pick the best blog in Tennessee, which has to be the heart of excellent gardening blogs. I think I just closed my eyes on that one and let my fingers go “eenie, meenie…”:)

    Thanks so much Rose. I am so proud of the Tennessee bloggers that my hearts nearly bursts with pride for them. The same could be said of Illinois! Very difficult to pick among such wonderful blogs. Good luck to you all! πŸ™‚

  16. Lzyjo says:

    oh, Frances, I’m afraid I’ve been away from the Faire Garden for far too long! I do love your muhly grass. It’s so ethereal in the sunbeams, and I love the pinkish color. Autumn is beautiful when it touches all the plants.

    Thanks for visiting, Lzyjo. I have to admit to having your name in my blogroll as Izyjo, my poor vision mistaking the L for an I. It has been corrected. Autumn in Tennessee is full of treats from the wild areas to roadsides to gardens and farms. We are very fortunate to live here. πŸ™‚

  17. Layanee says:

    Has another season really passed this quickly? Love your stand of muhly grass and have ‘muhly envy’ since I cannot grow it here. I guess I am pink with envy.

    Hi Layanee, thanks. It does seem like fall was just finishing up not long ago. As we like to say, Onward! πŸ™‚

  18. That grass is just a winner any way you slice it (so to speak). Any lighting, any angle and it’s stunning! Are you entering a photo int he GGW contest this month?

    Hi Monica, thanks. I did enter a photo of the muhly from last year in the contest. The cutoff date was before the peak pinkness unfortunately. It would have been nice to enter a current shot one of these months. πŸ™‚

  19. Pam/Digging says:

    I’ll never tire of the muhly show, Frances. Bring it on!

    Thanks Pam. Do you have a space in mind for a planting at your place? It would do well there and look especially good with those rock outcroppings that I envy so much. πŸ™‚

  20. gittan says:

    I think that muhlygrass along the driveway looks heavenly! And since I’m not abel to grow it myself I’ll have to say: Show me more! I just can’t get enough / kram gittan

    Thanks Gittan, you are so sweet. The planting along the driveway was one of those things that worked out way better than expected in a spot where nothing else would grow. πŸ™‚

  21. Jean says:

    It’s definitely pinking up in your garden! I’ve been plagued with lack of sunshine and too much rain myself and have been wondering if the muhlys would do much. But they’re trying to get it together. I do think it’s your mass planting that seems to help with the pinkness factor. I have only two large ones next to each other and last year they were pretty outstanding. Each on their own might not have been. I look forward to seeing more of yours! oh, p.s., love the hummer shot. Isn’t it funny how they sometimes look at the photographer?

    Hi jean, thanks so much. It was a worry that the weather would somehow spoil the muhly show, unfounded as it turns out. One thing about so much division of the muhly here is that there are no large specimens yet. One of these years, it wil really be great. The hummers are so full of personality! πŸ™‚

  22. You don’t go out in the rain & snap photos under an umbrella? ;^) I love the photos of your Muhly grass. This is quite an event. Say Hi to the hummers for me.

    Hi MMD, thanks. They say hi back at ya! I used to take the camera out with an umbrella, and one time the camera would not close up properly because it got wet. That was too scary so now it does not venture out unless it is bone dry.

  23. Carol says:

    Your Muhly scattered around the gardens is like fountains of pink champagne! Lovely… Magical. Your shot with the hummer is other worldly! Certainly seems like a faire garden there! Hope you have a wonderful ‘dry’ weekend Frances!

    Hi Carol, thanks, and I am a big fan of pink champagne too! This is a great time of year in the garden, the light is fabulous. Rain predicted for Saturday, but we have had a couple of dry days, thank goodness. A good weekend wish for you as well. πŸ™‚

  24. Catherine says:

    I love the pictures of it along your driveway where the light really shows the color. I’ll be waiting to see more of the show!

    Thanks Catherine, there are so many plants along the driveway, it does make the color more brilliant, but the better backlighting is on the hill in the back actually. Glad you are ready for more muhly! πŸ™‚

  25. Meems says:

    Oh, show me again… the muhly is just so intense next to your driveway. I even admire the light and fluffy-ness of the ones you have scattered on the slope. Wow… I’m so glad you included the information about cutting them back in January and that your display is about 50 or 60 plants. Very helpful.

    I’ve been snapping away at the progression of the 20 I planted in July because at first I wondered if the tan color would turn to pink or if they had been mislabeled. Ha. They are turning… yay.

    Just keep showing us these beauties… we’ll not tire of their loveliness even into December.
    Meems @ Hoe and Shovel

    Hi Meems, thanks for wanting more. The plants on the slope are what we see from the house and are really nicer than what these photos suggest. I just can’t capture it. I am very excited about your 20 plants, glad they are turning too. They do start out so pale, we always wonder if it is not going to be a good year, even the Financier comments about that, he loves the muhly best of all the plants here. I look forward to seeing yours in bloom too. πŸ™‚

  26. I remember your previous posts about Muhly.
    They knocked me spark out then and again this time. I really like it dotted about in your garden and near the steps.

    Thanks Rob, you such an interesting way of putting things! I wish you could see the muhly in person, it is much better than my photos suggest on the hill. The mass by the driveway seems much easier to photograph for some reason.

  27. Phillip says:

    I always look forward to your display. The only place I’ve seen it as dramatic is down in Florida when we go there in October on vacation.

    Thanks Phillip. The very first time I saw this plant was coming out of a woodsy boardwalk on the beach at Kiaway, SC to a backlit mass of it, growing wild on the dunes, with the ocean in the background. It must have been at peak for the color was blindingly brilliant. It was a sight I will never forget.

  28. marydelle says:

    The muhly grass is fantastic. I can see why you make so many photos of it.I would too. In my small garden it would be too tall and wide in the sunny spots where I could put it. But I can enjoy it in yours.

    Hi Mary, thanks. This is not a large grass, unlike the miscanthus and others and is perfect for a small garden. Give it a try! πŸ™‚

  29. I think I’m going to always look forward to September just to see this beautiful show of pink. I wish I could grow it — according to what I’ve read, it needs sandy soil, which I certainly don’t have here in Austin. But they sell it at the nurseries — hmm, this needs investigating…

    Hi Meredith thanks so much. But living in Austin you can definitely grow this grass. There is certainly no trace of sand here. We are Tennessee red clay but do have good drainage. The drainage is the key, and warmer zones. You need it! πŸ™‚

  30. Tatyana says:

    What a stunner! And you showcased it so well! I want this grass!

    Hi Tatyana, thanks. I think you might be able to grow it in your climate. Good drainage is the most important thing if you are in the zones for it. πŸ™‚

  31. dowhatyoulove says:

    That is an amazing plant! And great photos to capture its beauty for us. What a magical garden you have, nicely done!

    Thanks so much, glad you liked this post. πŸ™‚

  32. Beuatiful. The only problem with the photos is that they so make me want to run my hands through the muhly grass and feel if if it as soft as it looks. I love touching plants.

    Hi Happy, thanks. This is a very soft grasss and I often run my fingers through it. It does not give one paper cuts, like some of the ornamental grasses do, very well behaved this one. πŸ™‚

  33. Pam/Digging says:

    To answer your question, Frances, I don’t have room in the back garden, which lacks the sunny space required for a good muhly show. Out front live oaks dominate too and sun is limited, but I should be able to squeeze in a stand of grasses and agaves around the edges. I’m eager to start digging out there, but it’s not in the budget this year. I keep telling myself that patience is a virtue. πŸ˜‰

    I wondered about the sun aspect, Pam. Glad you will have a spot for it eventually. Shade in Austin is a good thing, even if it might limit the plant selection. Our driveway gets afternoon sun, maybe 5 to 6 hours, more at the high end. It may be why the muhly is more vigorous at that end of the stand.

  34. Jake says:

    BEAUTIFUL! I love this grass and had ever heard of it until I moved to Florida last year. Our Muhly here in Northeast Florida hasn’t started to show any signs of color yet. Last year I believed it started to show some color in mid-October and was at peak in Novemeber. I don’t mind you posing a lot of pictures of it, it is just so beautiful.


    Thanks Jake. It seems our grass is ahead of you guys, it is near peak I would say, even with near constant rain. Thank goodness the rain does not bother it at all, actually it is more photogenic when wet, like many plants are. I can’t wait to see you post photos of it in FL. πŸ™‚

  35. Hi Frances,
    Beautiful grass, I wonder if it’s hardy for Sweden.

    Thanks Ken. I am not sure if it is hardy for you or not. The minimum temperature is 0 to 10 degrees F for our zone 7. We rarely see that kind of cold here and it would only last a very short time. Good drainage is very important too. Hope you can grow it! πŸ™‚

  36. Patsi says:

    It always gets me when I see your muhly grass.
    That amazing pink !!
    Like mixing it with other plants on your steps…Sure does perk things up.

    Thanks Patsi, isn’t that pink fluffy? Really something different in the fall garden. It looks nice en masse by the driveway, but I like it mixed in the back. It goes very well with the knockout roses.

  37. Joanne says:

    What wonderful phots of amazing colours. Never seen the like before except I think you mentioned it in an earlier post but certainly not here in UK.

    Thanks Joanne. This grass is not grown nearly enough here in the US either. I have not seen it anywhere else in my own town. What a shame, it is easy to grow in a well drained position here.

  38. Frances, seeing this grass here and on Austin blogs was too irresistible and I have surrendered to the pink. The Divas of the Dirt were here last weekend, turning a parkway strip full of dead St Augustine into a little waterwise garden with 2 Muhly grasses for feathery fun..hope it works because that color will look great with the Mutabilis rose in the central bed.

    Thanks for the inspiration.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

    Hi Annie, that is so cool! The muhly is perfect for the parkway AKA hellstrip. It needs no water after the initial planting and laughs at heat and humidity. Mutabilis is one of my favorite roses. I need to find a place for one here. Thank YOU for the inspiration! πŸ™‚

  39. marmee says:

    can you believe all the rain we have been having? it is a wonder anything is blooming and hasn’t drowned.
    i love your purpley/pink muhly grass. i would love to see some in person…it is just so pretty. i am happy for you that it is looking so wonderful despite the rain.
    happy september.

    Hi Marmee, that rain is amazing, over a foot the local weather just said. We have had more than that according to my raingauge. We have excellent drainage since the whole property is a steep slope, but some container plants look a little overwatered. You should look for the muhly, you have the perfect large space to showcase it well. A happy September, almost over! to you as well. πŸ™‚

  40. Lzyjo says:

    No apologies needed for the I and l, it took me long enough to realize that lower case L’s look exactly like uppercase I’s. LOL! No harm no foul!

    Thanks, Lzyjo, I love a good sports metaphor! My only excuse is poor vision! Sort of like dogwood and dogood. πŸ™‚

  41. TC says:

    I think some in a pot here might look nice during our short summers. Lord knows it’d never survive our winters in a bed of its own.

    Hi TC, thanks for stopping by. This grass would be a perfect candidate for a container. Like the pennisetum rubrum that is an annual here, worth it! πŸ™‚

  42. Oh this is fun! I remember falling in love with it last year from your pictures. Still don’t have any but….still hoping. It really does need to planted in mass for the full affect.

    Hi Anna, thanks. I am sure you can grow this, it would look lovely in your wonderful garden. πŸ™‚

  43. Siria says:

    Hi Frances! Your pink grass is absolutely fabulous!!! I want some, but have never seen it at any nursery here. I have noticed that a neighboring city is now planting it in the medians of a major thoroughfare, so I should be able to find it somewhere. Thanks for sharing your beautiful garden with us!

    Hi Siria, nice to see you and thanks. This grass needs to be more widely grown, everyone seems to love it and it is easy care. Am I doing a good enough public relations job for it? HA πŸ™‚

  44. Sweet Bay says:

    Muhly is just so magically beautiful, isn’t it? So light and airy, and such a wonderful color. It looks great both beside your driveway and in your garden. Love it with the rose and Mexican Bush Sage.

    Thanks Sweet Bay. The Salvia is the dreamed for prince to accompany this grass. Not hardy here, but with the size, color and bloom time, more will be added each spring for the purple velvet touch. It is in my notes already. πŸ™‚

  45. VW says:

    Frances, I love your writing, dadburn (or dadgum) it! I voted for your blog for ‘best writing’ at blotanical. Enjoy the muhly grass and I’ll enjoy your photos “until we are all sick of looking at it”, chuckle chuckle.

    Thanks so much, VW, that means a great deal to me! There were several ways to go and dadburn bubbled to the top. HA πŸ™‚

  46. Amanda Acy says:

    I am in the beginning stages of creating a gardening blog for our locally owned garden center. I would love to “reference” you in some our articles. Could you please contact me @ 251.747.0340 to discuss possible opportunities!
    Your work is amazing! Thank you for sharing your knowledge!

    Hi Amanda, thanks for those kind words. It is acceptable to link to the garden blogs of others without permission, just not to scrape content. I would like to be notified when a link is made, so I can check it out, is all that is asked. Good luck with your blogging endeavor.

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