Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox and other native plants for pollinators

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Wild Flower Wednesday ~~Bottle Brush Grass


Wild Rye/ Bottle Brush Grass, showed up in the garden about two years ago...It was growing in the small woodland wildflower garden in the middle of the decaying ephemerals. It's bristly flower heads were leaning over the phlox and caught my eye.

Naturally, I was puzzled. I hadn't planted it, nor had I added any new wildflowers to the bed that it could have hopped a ride on....
It's trying to tell me to put the hose away!

Here's what I learned about this sweet gift from the birds!

Elymus hystrix is a cool season grass with bottle brush spikelets

Enlarge to see the grass flowers dangling from the spikelets

that rise above the foliage during the summer, and turn from green to
brown in late summer as the seeds ripen.

It's a clump forming grass, indigenous to Tennessee,

If it will grow here...you can grow it!

that can reach 3 to 5 foot tall and will happily grow under the tall canopy trees in heavy clay. It readily self seeds in the garden, but don't worry, if it pops up where you don't want it to be, it is easily moved.

It grows best in the
woodland edges with dappled sunlight. But, if the soil is moist, not soggy,

it will grow beautifully among prairie plants and daylilies!

The leaves among the daylilies enlarge to see the grass leaves

If you live in the Eastern-Central US and Canada (MB, NB, NS, ON, QC) Zone 4a-8b you might already have this delightful easy to grow, no problem grass in your woodland. It will grow in most gardens...except those with desert like conditions. Annie's Annuals in California is selling it...Which could mean that it has finally been discovered. Perhaps it's on the way to being the next "It Grass"!

Elymus hystrix is already the IG at Clay and Limestone for it's ease of growth, it sweet bottle brush flower heads that provide several seasons of color...but more importantly it provides seeds for birds and food for several caterpillars, including the Northern Pearly Eye....and in case you wondered, it's reported to be deer resistant. I don't think they like the seed heads.

One last thing, if possible place it in the garden so it is back lit!

Gail

"I love being asked to identify plants, and I don't know which gives me more pleasure: to know what they are or not to know what they are."...Elizabeth Lawrence, Through the Garden Gates, 1990

43 comments:

  1. how beautiful...passed from sits

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  2. OMG! This wild rye is so photogenic and a TN native too! That backlight photos is amazing! I wish the birds would bring me something this nice!

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  3. Liz, If the birds won't I will! I can send seeds when they are ready to plant or I can dig a few seedlings for you...or, if we ever get together, gail

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  4. Very unique looking seed heads. I'll have to keep my eyes open for it.

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  5. Hi Gail, I'm just getting interested in grasses--learning more about them.
    I like this one planted with other plants, gives an airy feeling and a little extra height.
    Marnie

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  6. This is another lovely grass, Gail. I really like the way it mingles with the daylilies without stealing the show. I'm getting an education about all the different kinds of grasses there are, and I'm beginning to think I shouldn't be so ruthless in weeding--maybe I have a few prizes like this one I'm not allowing to grow:)

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  7. That is some pretty grass. Cheesehead wants to red rid of some "weeds" in our yard. I rather like the clover though. If it stays maybe the critters will eat that instead of my garden??? Amazing how one person's weed is another person's treasure, isn't it?

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  8. It looks great! Much nicer then some cultivated ornamental grasses I've seen.

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  9. Ah, so your garden wat The Catcher of the Rye and what a great grass it is. Have you let Piet Oudolf know about it? ;-)

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  10. It shows great among other plants and fills the space. Wonderful grass!

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  11. I have this too. It grew all along the edge of my little woods. I took some of it out and planted small trees and shrubs, but I left this grass in between and I love it across the front. It kind of frames things.I wondered what it was...thanks for the info.

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  12. Gail, that grass looks wonderful amongst those beautiful pink daylilies!

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  13. That's a lovely grass that looks very familiar, though I'm sure I never knew it by name. :) It certainly mixes well in your beautiful gardens, Gail. (I like the idea of Wildflower Wednesdays!)

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  14. I've been looking for a grass that can grown in between plants (instead of forming one huge clump) and which sways. This might be a winner!!

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  15. Very pretty! I love clumping grasses, and this sounds like a winner.

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  16. I'm always on the lookout for taller grasses that will tolerate shade, but that won't become pests, such as Chasmanthium. I'll have to check this one out.

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  17. Lucky you to get such a nice looking volunteer! It really is nice looking. I wonder if it's native this far south? I should research...

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  18. I really like it, Gail ~ a fine feature for Wild Flower Wednesday.

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  19. My friends, I am so glad you stopped by~~ Bottle Brush is an interesting grass and I will have seeds to share and a few plants come this fall~~gail

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  20. What a cool looking grass Gail. I love the interesting seed heads. Don't the sound of grasses rustling in the wind make you smile? ;)

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  21. Thanks once again Gail, for introducing us properly to those we might have dismissed as, dare we say it, weeds? It Grass, I love it. I must look through the inhabitants here for that distinctive bottle brush shape. It's a keeper!
    Frances

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  22. Hi Gail....I have a passion for grasses and grow many in my garden...

    I love the pretty seedheads.....very often people pass by grasses but I think they often add softness to planting....

    My copse is full of grasses.....some of them are so pretty....they are also the host plants for many beautiful moths and small butterflies.....

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  23. Gail, that is one very cool little grass! I love how well it mixes with daylilies.

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  24. Very decorative seed head. Tolerates some shade, you say? I might give that one a think.

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  25. Gail,

    The birds can deliver some great gifts! :-) That's such a delicate, wispy grass. Now, you've got me wondering if it is around here anywhere. I know that I've not seen it seeded in my garden. I'll have to check out the local native plants at the Botanical Garden.

    Cameron

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  26. It's fun to find plants that work well together. I have the lilies but no bottle brush...wonder what else would work.

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  27. Oh my Gail, this is an interesting looking grass. Being native makes me like it even more. I have never seen such a grass around here. You are lucky it was "given" to you.

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  28. That is pretty. I love grasses(-: It looks wonderful in your garden too!

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  29. How cool to get a lovely gift from the birds instead of hackberries, which is what they sow in Austin gardens. ;-)

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  30. Gail, it is a lovely grass in your gardens. I like the light airy look of it mixed in with the heavier or thicker plantings. Having said that---I am afraid here in my garden it would look like a weed. So, I will enjoy it in yours. Thanks for all the info and as Rose said, to be a little more selective in what I pull as weeds.

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  31. What a lovely little surprise for you! I'm quite fond of the grasses and I like this one a lot!

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  32. It is so interesting. I like plants with character. It sure seems to be agreeable for lots of locations. Now it looks really great growing at Clay and Limestone. So grand the the birds gifted it to ya.

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  33. oooh, what a pretty grass Gail. It adds so much texture to the garden. I love that it just "showed up" too. I get things like bindweed to do that in my garden, certainly nothing as architectural as Bottle Brush Grass. Thanks for the introduction.

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  34. Thanks for the info Gail! Any grass that can tolerate clay is of interest to me!

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  35. So pretty this Wild Rye is.Nice info.and great pics.Thanks for sharing.

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  36. I like your daylily, zinnia combo so much, I think I will sprinkle some zinnia seeds among my daylilies. Thanks for the inspirtation.
    Donna

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  37. I like your daylily, zinnia combo so much, I think I will sprinkle some zinnia seeds among my daylilies. Thanks for the inspirtation.
    Donna

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  38. i love the quote at the end of your post...i can relate. my children think i know endless amounts of flowers but truely their are endless amounts of flowers/plants i do not know.
    i am glad you found your it grass. it is wonderful having things in the garden that are just supposed to be there.
    hope you are enduring this heat wave.

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  39. Hi Gail! Great grass!! It must reseed... are the roots deep on the seedlings (meaning are they worse than weeds if they end up being somewhere you might not want them to be?)
    I have a mystery this year too! A plant (spiderwort) that I swore I would never purchase again is growing in my Very Shady backyard garden with the ferns and hostas. I'm letting it be this year, at least, to see how it does back there. It's blooming. ha.
    My experience with this plant is that it grows tall, spreads easily and when it's rainy and windy, it flops over on everything else and never stands up again. So, you can imagine my surprise when I found it! ;-)

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  40. Shady...It seems to be a shallow rooted grass...I think that's because it's a woodland grass not a prairie grass...Those prairie soils are deeper and the roots go down very far to hold the soil in place and to survive fires, drought, and wind!

    Spiderwort is another animal altogether...it's roots hold on tightly. ...Gail

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  41. What a lovely grass! And your photos are great. Probably the goldfinches love the seeds?

    Lisa

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