Muhly Grass Grand Opening

The day began full of promise. It had rained the day before, blessed moisture from the sky, so very welcome to the garden.

Fog dripped from the heavy air. The light was low, dimming all the brilliance, hiding it from lenses human and mechanical.

And then the sun burned through the mist, revealing the long awaited grand opening.

The blooming has begun in earnest of the beloved Muhlenbergia capillaris, henceforth referred to as Muhly or Muhly grass.

It is the pink cotton candy snowstorm that greets the true beginning of fall in the Fairegarden. A blizzard of light as a flamingo feather inflorescens, sparkling with the leftover morning dew makes the camera sing a song of gladness. And the gardener as well.

Through years of trial and error effort, this garden has interest in each month, but no season is so dominated by one plant as fall is by the pink Muhly grass.

The muhly has been spread from divisions taken in spring and seedlings dug from the gravel paths to create swaths situated to best catch the lower light. The initial planting was in the front round bed that borders the driveway. A Knockout rose pruned to a single trunk is the perfect foil for the muhly color.

The sunniest beds in the most open situations bloom first, those being the slope behind the main house with a mass planting near the shed and the original front driveway round. The real show, the muhlystravaganza along the driveway on the far side of the garage is still only in rehersal bud stage.

So we shall savor the view while waiting, letting the amuse-bouche whet the appetite until the entree is served.

To read more about the muhly grass growing in the Fairegarden, click here-Muhly Grass-See You In September and here-Muhly Watch Friday.


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41 Responses to Muhly Grass Grand Opening

  1. Debbie says:

    Thanks for the lovely photos to brighten my rainy & windy morning here in CT. Muhly grass is on my wish list but since it’s marginally hardy here and I don’t have a sunny spot for a mass of muhly I think it will remain there for a bit. But I so enjoyed indulging in your muhly. As I’m drinking my coffee this morning, I’ll be imagining your garden while I watch the puddles form in mine!

    Hi Debbie, thanks. I hope you have battened down the hatches with that weather system on the attack! We could use some, but not that much, of your rain, please send it back down to Tennessee. Thank you. The Muhly is a such a welcome sight here, drought or not, it enjoys the well drained sunny spots on our slope. πŸ™‚

  2. Carol says:

    Happy Muhly Grass Season! It’s beautiful, as always.

    Hi Carol, thanks. My spirits soar when looking at the muhly by the shed from inside the addition while sitting in the lazyboy feeling down. It is a tonic when the sun backlights it. πŸ™‚

  3. Les says:

    Your Muhly photos are beautiful. I am glad you were there for opening day to share it with us. You must draw a line through your engagement calendar at this time of year so you don’t miss the event.

    Hi Les, thanks. It is a big deal in my garden, for sure. This is just the opening act, but is the main view from where I normally sit. The batch along the driveway is the view from my kitchen window over the sink. I may have to start washing the dishes by hand, especially since my dishwasher is not doing a good job anyway, very slowly swirling the dishcloth over and over each plate, once the muhly opens out there. I might even take the camera out. πŸ™‚

  4. Eileen says:

    Frances, this grass is gorgeous, wish I could grow it here in zone 5.


    Hi Eileen, thanks. I wish everyone could grow this grass, perhaps the plant scientists can develop some, they seem to be able to do everything else. πŸ™‚

  5. Sylvia (England) says:

    Frances, I so look forward to your display of Muhly grass each year. Like you, I’m am in eager anticipation of the main drive display. It gets better each year. One day I will find a supplier!

    Best wishes Sylvia (England)

    Hi Sylvia, thanks so much. It is a happy time here when the muhly opens, especially when the sun is just right. The English plant growers need to get on the stick! πŸ™‚

  6. Gail says:

    Dear Frances, It’s so beautiful~it looks good no matter from what angle it’s photographed. I have high hopes that I’ve finally found the spot for it! We’ll see~In the mean time I can enjoy yours! xxgail

    Hi Gail, thanks. It raises my spirits considerably when the sun comes out at just the right moment, like a veil being lifted! I have the feeling that you may have found the right spot as well. It helps to remember that the native spot for it is a sandy beach. I have seen it en masse off the South Carolina shoreline near Charleston in October just as the sun was rising. I will never forget it, but did not have a camera with me. It was truly a sea of reddish pink meeting the horizon.

  7. Gorgeous Frances!! Magical is the feeling . . . love the three trunks with the Muhly. Fab colors! ;>)

    Thanks Carol. It changes the scenery around here when the muhly comes into it’s pink phase, and the mood of the gardener. πŸ™‚

  8. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Mz Muhly looks practically perfect in her flamingo pink fall frock. So glad to hear that you got some rain. I hope it happens here soon.

    Hi Lisa, thanks. I do so hope you get rain soon, and we get more. With some places experiencing flooding, it doesn’t seem fair, does it?

  9. Steve says:

    You knew that would draw me over, lol. I’ve become a landscaper again, just ask my bones, lol, but I sure do like taking visits to the Muhly Grass Express over here. You captured me with those a few years ago and now I can locate Muhly stands at spots in Louisville. I love that stuff and the way you have developed yours I find really gorgeous. Well done, Frances.

    HA Steve, you are so funny! I am glad you have gotten back into the landscaping biz, you are so talented! I know you will use lots of muhly grass in your designs, too. Thank you for those kind words, so much appreciated! πŸ™‚

  10. Layanee says:

    I love that grass. It is like cotton candy. Perhaps I should try some as an annual? What do you think?

    Hi Layanee, thanks. I would use it as an annual in a snap. We use the purple fountain grass here as an annual without hesitation, so why not, if you can get it. πŸ™‚

  11. Another one of the can’t-growers here. First saw it in Nan Ondra’s Fallscaping. I think if I had free draining soil I would be tempted to try it anyway.

    Thanks Kathy. I know that Nan grows it as an annual, to great effect! Get some sand and give it a try! πŸ™‚

  12. Rose says:

    I can’t think of a better way to greet fall than with this gorgeous confection, Frances! Maybe one of these days breeders will come up with a cultivar that’s hardy further north.

    Hi Rose, thanks. I feel the same way and wish everyone could grow it. Either the breeders or global warming. πŸ™‚

  13. I love your beautful muhly grass. I ordered some from a mail order house recently and they sent me three brown plants. Being optimistic I planted them anyways and am wondering as they are still brown. (been planted for 3 weeks) Do you think it’s just the time of the year or have I been had by another mail order house? I ordered these as I am so in love with your beautiful muhly. I drool over your pictures.

    Thanks Valerie. Oh no, it should not be brown. Contact the mail order place at once and ask for replacement plants. It should not brown until well past frost, and then only tan. They do not transplant well, but if you see only one green blade, they are alive. Look closely. Good luck! πŸ™‚

  14. That is one stunning grass. I was so sad to read that it needs full sun and excellent drainage, neither of which I could give it. Will have to satisfy myself with enjoying your lovely pics intstead.

    Hi Janet, thanks. You could probably make a bed with sandy soil for it, if your zone is hardy enough. But it does need pretty much full sun. I am happy to share plenty of photos for a few weeks while it blossoms to its full magnificence. πŸ™‚

  15. gittan says:

    As you know I’m a big fan of that Muhly grass and I’ve longed for this years posts showing it in bloom. It looks great and I wish you could hear me scrolling thrue the post sighing, and making sounds lika oooohhhh, aaahhhh, wow… I think I’ll have to look thrue it one more time =)

    Dear Gittan, you always make me smile, thanks! I am glad you like seeing the muhly. It certainly cheers me everytime I gaze at it out the window or out in the garden. When the sun is just so, it is afire! πŸ™‚

  16. Frances, I”m helping a friend design a simple mailbox garden- her first garden. I thought I’d have her put in daffodils, daylilies and muhly grass for a multi season simple garden. How soon does the muhly grow? Would you put it in front or hehind the daylilies? I like the idea of having one leaf distract from the dying of the previous.

    Hi Jill, that is so cool! Congrats on helping out, your plan sounds wonderful. I would give the muhly the front spot, it is not very tall and dislikes foliage competition which the daylilies would give. I would put the daffs amongst the daylilies. A good companion for the muhly is Verbena bonariensis, it is skinny enough to stick up through the muhly and give interest before the muhly blooms. When not in bloom, the muhly is pretty boring! πŸ™‚

    Thanks for the help. I agree – starting a brand new bed and trying to help someone get interested in plants – is lots of fun. I just want to help her make choices that will take little care and are likely to survive our hot summers. Plus, I’ve found that most people don’t realize that one bed can have 12 month interest in GA.

    There is nothing more fun than starting with a blank slate, Jill! I think most beginning gardeners only think of spring and summer plantings, with bare earth, or mulch during the winter. Grasses help fill the void so nicely. A couple of choice evergreens and you have something to look at over the winter, too. Glad you are helping her. πŸ™‚

  17. I wonder when mine will bloom? Only one still standing. Hmm. Maybe not the first year? Time to get some MORE!!! Love the bottle tree.

    Hi Mary Ann, thanks. Yes, more is the key word with this plant, one is not enough at all! I have found seedlings to bloom the third year, divisions may take that long as well. It needs full sun to bloom best, with backlighting if possible. Good luck with yours! πŸ™‚

  18. gardeningasylum says:

    Oh my Frances, it’s muhly time already! I would add my zone envy to that of the other commenters. There are some nice miscanthus that bloom here, but nothing like the pinky muhly.

    Hi Cindy, thanks. It is surprising that it is time for the muhly to me as well, but there it is so I guess so! I have never seen anything like the pink of the muhly when backlit. So light and fluffy. πŸ™‚

  19. commonweeder says:

    The muhly grass is so beautiful. I thought I would add some after seeing your beautiful photos, but it is not hardy here in Mass. I guess I will have to live with my zone envy.

    Hi Pat, thanks. You would have to grow this as an annual. It is pretty enough to do so if you could find some at a reasonable price. Lowe’s just had gallon plants of it here, that is where I got mine several years ago, for $6.99, blooming size. I haven’t seen it since there since I bought the first plants, so was glad it was offered. Maybe you could ask for it, if you were interested. πŸ™‚

  20. Melissa says:

    Love the photos….and LOVE your bottle tree!!!

    Hi Melissa, thanks. The bottle tree was moved last winter, so this is the first chance to see it as a backdrop for the shed bed muhly. Lucky placement! πŸ™‚

  21. I would love to see your muhly grass in person, it must stop traffic.

    Hi MMD, thanks. I would love for you to see it in person as well. Cars do come to a stop in front of the driveway when it is in bloom. Luckily we are in a very sparsely traveled area so there are no accidents caused. πŸ™‚

  22. kimberly says:

    I love ornamental grasses and muhly grass is one of my favorites. Your photos show it off well. I also like your description of it as “cotton candy”…perfect as it’s so light and airy!

    Hi Kimberly, thanks. It is impossibly airy, and with so much color at peak bloom time. We just had some freshly made cotton candy at a youth football game last week, the muhly is even pinker! But the cone of fluffed sugar was pretty tasty, if sticky. πŸ™‚

  23. Jen says:

    I’ve really wanted to try planting this after seeing it on your blog. It is absolutely breathtaking in pictures so I can’t imagine it in real life! I’m on the edge of zones 6 & 7 so I have some zone 6 winters. I’ve read they can’t survive that far north? I’d love to hear what you think about that. Do you know anyone growing it this far north?

    Hi jen, thanks for those nice words about the muhly we grow. It is true, the pictures I take do not do it justice. I feel like it would be worth a try for you to grow it. I would give it a very sunny spot, excellent drainage and sand added to the soil. Prevent winter wetness with siting it in the warmest microclimate you have, perhaps against a south facing building. Good luck with it and let me know the results if you try it. πŸ™‚

  24. Three cancan girls with their frou frou skirts. Skilful pruning by a master gardener ;>)

    Hi Diana, thanks. I had to go back and look at the post to see what the cancan girls were! I assume you are speaking of the Chinese Elm that was attacked by a maniacal pruner, it is still a work in progress, but it is beginning to look a little better. It has taken a while. HA Sad to say, I am not a master gardener, a program in the US of classes and volunteer work. Maybe someday, but I appreciate your kind words very much. πŸ™‚

  25. Lona says:

    Hi Frances. Oh how lovely when the sun shines through upon it. It does look like cotton candy. Have a wonderful weekend.

    Hi Lona, thanks and may you also have a great weekend. The sun makes all the difference with the color of the muhly, like flipping on the pink switch. πŸ™‚

  26. Valerie says:

    That grass is so pretty. Lovely tufts of pink.

    Hi Valerie, thanks. The muhly is the highlight of fall here. πŸ™‚

  27. Marilyn says:

    What stunning photos of a stunning grass, I have never seen anything like it. It is so very beautiful and fairy-like.

    Hi Marilyn, thanks and welcome. The muhly grass is the star of the fall garden here. I have a large planting of it along the driveway that will be featured when it peaks, in a week of two. Do stop back to see it. πŸ™‚

  28. Jenny B says:

    So beautiful, Frances. I first fell in love with Pink Muhly when I lived in Houston where it grows everywhere. There is nothing more beautiful in the Fall than Muhly Grass sparkling with dew in first morning light. When I saw yours, I fell in love with it all over again. I bought some pots last year and transplanted them here in Round Rock. NONE of them survived! Oh well, I will just have to look at your blog to get my fix.

    Hi Jenny, thanks so much. I remember seeing the muhly, and growing it in Houston. When backlit, there is nothing comes close to it, I agree. I am surprised that your plants did not survive. What zone are you there? We are zone 7 with very cold wet winters, but since we are on a slope, the drainage is not an issue. If I were you, I would try again with a drier siting, maybe adding sand to the hole? πŸ™‚

    Frances, I am in zone 8b. I think the ever-growing shade from the 21 trees we planted have changed my garden from sun-loving to dappled shade. I think the Muhly just couldn’t get enough sun to satisfy it. Another case of β€œBe careful what you wish for”…I wanted a forest for the cruel summers, and now I must change my gardening style. Repeat after me…change is good…

    Hi Jenny, thanks for responging. It is true, the shade will not allow the muhly to reach its full potential. Where you live, I would imagine the shade and coolness provided by the trees to be very desirable!

  29. Lola says:

    Oh that Muhly. Have been waiting till it started blooming. Gorgeous as usual. It seems to mark the start of Fall. What is the red bloomer in with it?

    Hi Lola, thanks. I have been waiting for it as well. It looks like a good year for it. The red is Salvia greggi.

  30. Stephanie says:

    How can I email you so that I can discuss whether I can feature your garden in my new maazine? (formerly Thanks, Stephanie

    Hi Stephanie, thanks for thinking my garden magazine worthy, but I am not interested at this time. πŸ™‚

  31. Pam/Digging says:

    Ah, it begins. Gorgeous as always, Frances. I look forward to more pics, especially along the drive. Although I don’t have any Gulf muhly in my own garden, you can find it all over Austin. I’ll be looking for those pink cotton candy blooms here too.

    Hi Pam, thanks. Yes, the time has come, and it looks to be a good year. I can imagine the muhly in Texas where it is used more extensively. We occasionally see it here, but believe it should be used much more. πŸ™‚

  32. Hello Frances, I’m amazed at how your ‘muhly’ so beautifully captures the sunlight in your photos. It looks truly magical. A combination of great gardening and photography skills I think!

    Hi Heidi, thanks. There is no photography skill here, just point and shoot on auto. It is the magic of light and garden that create what is shown on the blog. The muhly does contain more of that magic that anything else we grow. πŸ™‚

  33. Frances, I always dream of what time of year I’d like to visit your beautiful garden, and then the muhly grass begins, and I know it’s time. πŸ™‚ Wish I were there.

    I wish so too, dear Dee. While spring is wonderful, nothing compares to the colors and decadence of fall, with the muhly reigning over it all. πŸ™‚

  34. Now here is a plant where I am little ahead of you time wise Frances. The baby Muhlies grew quite well this year, more than doubling in size and are putting on a great showing with your dear Sheffie Mums and company.

    I wonder about that Christopher, how you are ahead in some plants and weeks behind in the blooming of others. I suppose it depends on what triggers the bloom. I believe your rainfall has been much more abundant than here. The sheffies are budded and those buds are swelling, but none are open yet. Your mountain must be ever so beautiful right now! πŸ™‚

  35. easygardener says:

    It is a spectacular display. Handy that it seeds well too!

    Hi EG, thanks so much. We would love for it to seed a bit more, but have learned what the babies look like as opposed to other weed grasses in the gravel paths. We used to pull them out before we knew better. πŸ™‚

  36. Jen says:

    There is something about seeing that beautiful grass that makes my heart beat faster. The heart of a gardener is always quickened by beauty. And I have the feeling that there are many beating faster when they see your post.

    Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

    Hi Jen, thanks so much. It is a special time when the pink reveals itself when the sun is just right. I love your turn of a phrase with the heart of gardener’s quickened by beauty. Pure poetry! πŸ™‚

  37. Town Mouse says:

    Amazing, Frances! Thanks so much for the photos — now, of course, I really want to meet this grass in person. Well, one day, maybe…

    Hi Town Mouse, thanks for viewing! I would love to show you the grass in person, and hope to meet you in person someday too. Maybe next year at the blogger meetup? πŸ™‚

  38. Tatyana says:

    You did it again! ‘You’ means you and the grass. Bravo!

    Hi Tatyana, thanks, so nice to see you here. The grass deserves all the credit! πŸ™‚

  39. Auntie Green says:

    Hello overthere,

    …..oh, what a beatiful grass:o) Never saw it before and I have fallen completely in love with it:o) How will I ever be able to live without this beauty?:o) We can not buy it anywhere here. I wonder where we can buy it?
    I love following your blog, as I am gardening on a slope too, here in my corner of the world.

    Wishing you all the best,
    Auntie Green from Denmark

    Hi Auntie Green, thanks and welcome! The Muhly grass should be made more available to everyone, although it may not ba hardy where you live. You could still grow it as an annual. Keep asking for it at the nurseries, maybe they will find a source! πŸ™‚

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