That Magic Muhly Moment

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I sit in a comfy chair by the window in the living room a good part of the day, gazing down at the laptop. Sometimes, often, I look up to peer through the blinds that are adjusted to allow a small opening for me to see out without the world seeing inside much. It’s a small slice of garden goodness, especially in October when the pink muhly grass is blooming. Muhlenbergia capillaris, that is.

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When in full bloom the pink muhly is lovely, a cotton candy confection. It is unique among grasses for color and fluffiness. Why it is not growing in every garden where it is hardy is beyond comprehension. I have done my best to bring attention to it through multiple blog posts over the years.

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It is for sale in my area right now at the big box store that begins with an “L” and ends with an “‘S”. That is where I bought my first plants back in 2000 for the old garden. Those plants were divided ruthlessly to form large, impressive swaths. Seedlings were dug and brought here to the new garden in 2014. They have grown well.

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In a full sun down sloping plot behind the mailbox, the muhly holds court in mid October. I like to look at it during the day, but as the sun is setting something special takes place.

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For ten minutes at most, right before 7 PM, the pink muhly transforms from mere plants to brilliant flashing feathers of fiery jewels waving in the breeze.

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While morning light bestows pink to the landscape, the setting sun paints with a golden brush.

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I have been waiting and watching this event nightly, wanting to capture the magic to share with you, dear readers.

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Kitty stands guard from the curb at the driveway edge, also waiting.  He likes to watch that evening sun go down. Hey Kitty, get out of the street!

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This is it, the last moment of illumination before the sun disappears below the horizon. Until tomorrow…


To read about how the stand of muhly grass has grown since first planted here in the new garden click here. Information on how to grow Muhlenbergia capillaris can be found in this post.  (The metal pineapple sculpture was a gift from my husband to celebrate my mid-century birthday, purchased in Texas.)


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21 Responses to That Magic Muhly Moment

  1. Barbara H. says:

    I was just thinking about you the other day, Frances. I moved a small clump into my courtyard garden so I could see it from inside and closeup when I am on the front porch. It is blooming and far too small a clump – I’ll have to make more room for it there. The clumps in my upper garden are blooming splendidly. Thank you for all your muhly posts over the years.

    Hi Barbara, thanks for thinking of me! It takes at least a year for the muhly to become a nice clump, and it does not like competition from other plants. My group is about 15 plants right now. At the old house it was 50 clumps. I am glad your upper garden clumps are doing well!

  2. I have always admired your Magic Muhly grass. It is just gorgeous.

    Thanks, Lisa, for your continued support and friendship!

  3. Kim Anderson says:

    Autumn Blessings Sweet Sister ~ I have so enjoyed your sharing your move and garden beginnings and evolution ~ to say what you have accomplished with your plants and the nature spirits is AMAZING is an understatement…and it is one of the blogs that lifts my heart just seeing it in my inbox – and I can imagine myself on the couch with you ~ a kindred spirit for sure. THANK YOU!!

    Hi Kim, thanks for this kind comment! I do love gardening and nature, it’s my life after my family. Your words do make me smile.

  4. You’ve done an admirable job of turning gardeners onto Pink Muhly. Even I am trying it again! This time in a full sun spot by the mailbox! Love seeing your garden in print, and feel so darned fortunate to have seen it in person. Happy Autumn, my dear friend. xo

    Oh goody! I am glad you are trying it again, my dear friend. Plenty of sun should help. It will need water regularly until we get rain, too.

  5. Marty Oczkowski says:

    I moved to zone 6 for the first time in my life and began to think of your Muhly grass. I ordered it through a mail order house and received the tiniest clumps imaginable. Perhaps 4 or 5 tiny thin blades for each clump. This is the second year and the clumps are making a showing and blooming. I am sure that I have them too crowded in after reading your posts so I will keep an eye on that.

    Hi Marty, thanks for sharing your muhly success! This is a grass that can be crowded together but does not really like competition from other plants. It will spread out in bloom. Good luck with yours!

  6. Marguerite says:

    A day in which a missive from the FaireGarden appears is a fine day indeed! Wishing you and all whom you love joy, health , peace and abundance! and yes, Kitty get out of the street!

    Thank you, sweet Marguerite, for your support! I do appreciate it. Love, joy, health, peace and abundance back at ya!

  7. Alison says:

    Such a beautiful plant! Although it’s technically hardy here, it doesn’t get quite the climatic conditions it needs to put on this fabulous show — not hot enough in summer, too much fall rain. I had to give up on it and enjoy it vicariously through your blog.

    Sorry to hear about your cool and moist summers, Alison. I envy those conditions. We are especially hot and dry here this year, but the muhly and some other stalwart plants do love it. Thanks for stopping by.

  8. michaele anderson says:

    Not to embarrass myself but…yes, yes, yes…the magic of muhly! There’s nothing like it and. frankly, I don’t think I have seen such gorgeous photo capture of it with such intense color. We are all well rewarded by your patience.

    No shame in loving something beautiful, Michaele. There truly is no other grass like this, and for those ten minutes before the sun goes down here, it transcends reality.

  9. indygardener says:

    Gorgeous, but sadly not hardy here where I garden. I have to admire it from afar when you and others post pics of it. Sigh.

    Hi Carol, thanks for stopping by. If you ever get the chance to see it growing wild, along the gulf coast and southern Atlantic/South Carolina in October, it would be just as good as growing it yourself.

  10. Not hardy here, either, but I think if I found a pot of it in spring I would snatch it up and try it anyway. You really know how to make it enticing!

    Thanks, Kathy. Yes, if you ever see it for sale in spring, you could certainly take a chance. Hot and dry and well drained soil is the key.

  11. That is absolutely gorgeous!

    Thanks! It’s prettier in person.

  12. Rose says:

    When I think of your garden, Frances, pink Muhly grass always comes to mind first. So glad you posted this–you know it’s one of my favorites! If I lived in a warmer zone, it would be one of the first plants I would buy. Gorgeous photos of this magical beauty, especially the transformation at sunset!

    Hi Rose, thanks for being your support. I didn’t think about being able to see the muhly out the window where I sit when it was planted, but it turned out to be a brilliant move! HA

  13. Layanee says:

    I love your muhly! How wonderful to sit, sip and surrender to the muhly beauty. It is surely worth the wait.

    Sweet surrender, I love that Layanee! That happens to be a time of day that I am usually seated by the window, too. Lucky!

  14. Kathy Sturr says:

    Beautiful! Truly a Magic Moment. I don’t think Pink Muhly is hardy enough for me here in North Country – but I’m going to look it up again for the millionth time just to make sure!

    Thanks, Kathy. I hope you can grow it where you live. If it is questionable, plant in spring to give it the best chance.

  15. There it is! The autumn arrival of the muhly grass, even in your new garden. Perfection!

    Hi Robin, thanks for visiting. The blooming of the muhly is a ritual of fall, it helps ease the sting of the shorter days.

  16. cheryl says:

    Yes! Those beauties remain to shimmer in the sun. What a wonderful, refreshing sight! O how I wish to grow cotton candy. Thank you Frances.

    Thanks, sweet Cheryl, for your poetic comment. I wish you could grow it, too.

  17. You’ve certainly captured the magic for us. Thank you! It is not quite hardy here (zone 5a) except maybe in a microclimate area here and there. One grass that IS hardy here, and it has a similar appeal and magic, is Purple Love Grass (Eragrostis spectabilis). Morning and afternoon sun bring out its glory, too. I remember you posting about Muhly Grass at your previous garden, and you always had great photos of it. I’m glad it’s happily settling into your new garden, too.

    Hi Beth, thanks for adding to the grassy conversation! I have heard folks exclaim of the beauty of the purple love grass and would love to see a stand of it someday. Maybe it would even grow here. We can’t have too many ornamental grasses, can we?

  18. VP says:

    I was thinking of you the other day when Dee blogged about the Muhly grass on her plot. After all your posts on this grass, I think you’ve excelled yourself with this one. Sadly, this is one grass I can’t grow in the UK, so I shall have to admire your photos instead.

    Hi Michelle, so nice to see you! Dee’s dew covered muhly shot was beautiful, she grows it well. Thanks for the kind words. I miss you! xoxoxo

  19. Cotton candy, is right. I love this grass and so wish I could grow it. Nothing else quite like it.

    Hi Linda, so nice to see you! We are fortunate that it will grow here, I think we might be its northernmost range.

  20. Paul Grant says:

    Oh this is gorgeous! I so love your muhly. This is indeed a magical moment seeing these beautiful plants in a garden. Thanks for sharing!

    Thanks so much for the kind words!

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