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Heroes of the Winter Garden

It cannot be overstated: grasses are the heroes of the winter garden. Our Little bluestem is still standing tall and the wispier grasses like Sideoat Grama have formed soft little mounds in the landscape. I can just imagine birds and small animals finding shelter under the folded blades of grass. On a sunny day, I spied a slew of small birds feasting on the seed heads of the prairie grasses. 

With little care from us, grasses do an exceptional job carrying the garden through the four seasons. I leave our grasses standing until new green blades start to poke up in the spring. I want to leave the shelter of the winter grasses in place as long as I can, but I don’t want to risk cutting back new, fresh spring growth. I have noticed that some grasses, like Karl Foerster, although not native is a must in my garden, can be easily broken by hand, should I wait too late in the season to cut it back. I also have luck simply raking my fingers through the clumps of grass. I’m able to remove spent, dried grass while leaving the new growth unmolested. Once I’ve completed my spring grass tidy up, I’m done. The grasses do their thing with no help from me until the following spring.  Easy to care for: there’s one reason to use grasses in the garden.

Native grasses are wonderfully diverse in appearance from tidier to wild and natural looking. The wide offering of native grasses makes them easy to design with, too. And while it’s not as noticeable as with our Asclepias, which are often eaten to the bare stems, native grasses are critical to the survival of moths and skippers. There are over 400 moths, skippers, and butterflies in Ohio. We gravitate to the colorful and easy to spy Monarchs, but many skippers, some quite beautiful and others more subdued, live in our gardens as well. 

This link takes you to a great site for native grasses and the skippers they support. (You may need to copy and paste)

Many of the skippers will look familiar to you, others, you will see are on the decline or threatened list.

If assisting nature with the survival of these tiny creatures is as easy as incorporating native grasses into our landscapes, it begs the question, why aren’t we using native grasses in every landscape?
To learn how you can incorporate native grasses into your landscape, call us. 

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