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....
Here's what I learned about this sweet gift from the birds!
Elymus hystrix is a cool season grass with bottle brush 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,
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!
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!
"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