Plants of the Week: September 5

Plants of the Week: September 5

calamagrostis-x-acutiflora-dca1Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’

In my Plants of the Week articles, you may have noticed that I like to feature grasses and succulents.  While I enjoy flowers, trees, and flowering trees as much as the next plant enthusiast, I feel that grasses are often over-looked and overshadowed (sometimes literally) by other plants.

So, without further ado, I give you:  Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’!  Also called feather reed grass, it is an ornamental clump grass that will spread to about 2.5 feet per cluster and reach a maximum height of around 5 feet.

Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’ likes full sun and constantly moist, rich soil.  It can tolerate clay soil, heavy watering, and partial shade, though excessive shade will cause the grass to droop. Once the light pink, modest blooms die out in midsummer, you will be rewarded with soft, fluffy, golden, billowing seed heads pleasing to the eye and fingertips lasting well into winter.

In March, cut down the stalks to allow for new growth in the spring. Once every few years, divide the clumps to maintain the attractive appearance.

Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’ is a splendid ornamental grass for adding a vertical ascent to your garden; come see ours and other like plants in the John W. Nason Garden.   Photo credit: D. Alvarez

asarum-europaeum-dca3Lycoris squamigera

Magill Walk is known for its impressive Quercus bicolor trees, but nestled in the shade beds beneath the allee is a pretty pink member of the Amaryllidaceae family: Lycoris squamigera.

Aside from being a splash of color in an otherwise green and gray area, the fascinating aspect of Lycoris squamigera is its apparent lack of leaves.  It dies back midsummer and in its place, a 2-foot by 2-foot lily-like scape of naked, fragrant flowers returns from August through September, hence its common name: resurrection lily.

Unlike others of its genus Lycoris squamigera is hardy enough to survive from zones 5 to 9, but it likes rich, well-drained, organic soil, and full sun to partial shade.  So, if you aren’t sure what to put under your tree, Lycoris squamigera might be worth considering.  Photo credit: D. Alvarez

taxodium-ascendens-dca10Taxodium ascendens

Next to Kohlberg Hall and the Isabelle Cosby Courtyard, you may notice a towering Taxodium ascendens seemingly trying to compete with the building itself in height.  Also called pond cypress, it is native to the swamps and steams of the southeast United States.

Being a wetland tree, Taxodium ascendens likes moist, yet sandy acidic soil, preferring to grow near water.  Its roots are known to produce knees, branch-like structures to help them breath despite wet conditions.  Pond cypress also enjoys full sun and can grow up to 70 feet tall, and 20 feet wide.  Taxodium ascendens is often mistaken for Taxodium distichum or bald cypress, though pond cypress tends to be smaller and more columnar than bald cypress, and has spirally appressed leaves.  If you have a pond or stream in your backyard or were planning on adding an everglade section, Taxodium ascendens would make for a good focal tree.   Photo credit: D. Alvarez

Dennis Alvarez
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