The wait may nearly be over. The time has finally arrived. The muhly grass, Muhlenbergia capillaris has begun to pinky-purple up.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Another two days pass, still raining.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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
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
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.