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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Cutting back the grasses

Yesterday was the perfect day to spend cutting back the grasses in the garden. Although the weather channel said the temperature was in the high 40's, the bright sunshine made it feel much warmer. Still, you don't want it to be too warm when cutting the grasses, they can be quite sharp and it's nice to wear long sleeves and still be comfortable.

Rather than show photos of dead looking grass stumps, I've chosen the fall shots of these grasses. The first grass was the easiest, the various clumps of Hakonechloa (Japanese Hakone Grass) only need household scissors to cut them back. I like to vary the tools I'm working with so I don't end up with one massive blister.

The clump of Miscanthus sinensis 'Morning Light' seen behind my spring cherub was the hardest to cut back. Due to it's location, I used a pair of hand held felco pruners. The palm of my hand is quite sore today.

This clump is boxed in on two sides with stone and concrete patio so it's become quite dense. Hopefully I'll get to digging it up and dividing it this spring.

The Miscanthus sinensis 'Strictus' (Porcupine grass) was actually quite easy to cut back even though it was by far the largest clump in the garden. I used my husbands new bypass lopers and it only took about ten minutes to clean this out.

I really love this grass. When it first begins to grow, it doesn't have the markings on it. It's not until it gets at least chin high that pale yellow bands start to appear.

The final clump of grass that was cut back was the Molina 'Sky Racer'. It's another grass that I just couldn't live without. The foliage on this grass stays quite low but the blooms shoot up in the sky to form a a thin veil that you can still see through. I used the Felco pruners on this one too, it wasn't very difficult to cut back at all.

Like the other grasses in the garden, this one is due to be divided this year.

BONUS! If you are wondering why I was using hand held tools instead of attacking all the grasses with lopers, well it's because I was looking for treasure in the garden.

My diligence was rewarded, in total I found 6 praying mantis egg cases in the grasses. I've cut them off carefully and stored them outside, in my breezeway. I sent an e-mail to the school offering some of them to any elementary school teacher that would like one. We'll see if anybody takes me up on that offer.

I never did get around to planting peas although I did ready the pots that I plan to plant them in. Today looks like another great gardening day so I hope to squeeze a few hours in out there before the afternoon and evening meetings begin.

Happy digging,
Melanie

9 comments:

our friend Ben said...

Great photos and good work, Melanie! I always save the mantis cases, too, then tuck them away in my Cultivated Wild Meadow so the little guys can have some privacy while they're growing up.

patientgardener said...

My collection of grasses is only just starting but your look lovely and have encouraged me to get some more.

Jim/ArtofGardening said...

Oh, you could have shown your shorn stumpy grass clumps. No one more than another gardener can appreciate them. But thanks for showing the grasses in full "bloom," they're more inspirational.

Sheila said...

I cut back most of our grasses a few months ago because they became floppy and messy. They look soooo bare and dismal all winter, but they are starting to show signs of new growth, finally.

Sue Ellen said...

Lovely grasses. We like them so much and have several of them. We divided our Morning Light last year. I am in charge of the small plants but my DH takes care of all the big clumps. There is still one not cut down. Guess there is need to define the difference in what makes a "large clump".

Gail said...

Melanie, Thank you for educating me! I hadn't seen mantis cases that I am aware of ...but I never looked...now I will. Your grasses are lovely and with such nice treasures...gail

Hoot Owl Hollow Nursery said...

Funny. I just cut mine down yesterday too. I usually do it in the fall, but never got around to it until now. I'd still be putting it off if Hank hadn't offered to help me with it - first time in 15 years of marriage. I used my Felco pruners like always and he experimented with saws and not sure what else. His method might have been a bit faster, but not nearly as neat. I hate leaving any of the cut stuff around because most of my grasses are on a hill and the old leaves are slippery. With about 20 clumps of grass it can get really messy.
Jane

flowergardengirl said...

I'm thrilled to see you back posting more. I've missed you. I don't have grasses yet at the new house but yours look grand. They do make a graceful addition to the garden. Smart and kind of you to save the mantis eggs. Hope they have good appetites.

Victoria said...

That's a good tip about blisters, Melanie. I must remember to do that, rather than plough on and on with the same pair of scissors.