Looking For Clues

I'm suprised at just how slow the emerging spring growth of 'warm' season grasses can be. The new shoots of Panicum virgatum 'Squaw' (above) took a long time to show. The same applies to Pennisetum orientale 'Karley Rose'. Pennisetum orientale 'Tall Tails' shows no sign of growth whatsoever despite it feeling robust when the old tufts are tugged and showing green when the base of last years growth is scraped with a fingernail. I wonder whether the thick layer of pine needle mulch I applied last Autumn has supressed the soil temperature, knocking things back a few weeks, who knows?

The new gowth on an unidentified Pennisetum of which I have two growing either side of the doors to the 'Well' barn. I simply don't know which variety they are, I picked them up cheaply a couple of years ago, tagged simply 'pennisetum' et voila. Their growth is so much more advanced in their snug Southeast facing position, tucked just in front of a heat radiating stone building.

Still talking grasses, above are the seedlings of Pennisetum villosum, which I'm informed is easily grown as an annual, rapidly making a good sized plant. It's probably borderline hardy in this frost 'hollow' so I'll take a view about the best option for protection this coming winter.

As usual, I've managed to grow way too many seedlings than I actually need. Cosmos 'purity' needs to be put out as it's rapidly heading towards being potbound. I think, hope, pray we've had our last frost. Also growing away now are Greek Origano, Nicotiana sylvestris, Agrostis nebulosa 'Fibreoptics' , Salvia patens and Chilli pepper 'Apache regular.

The border near the end gable is a maze of pea sticks and hazel plant supports. It looks a little odd right now, but the twigs will disappear once the Hollyhocks, Cosmos and Vebena bonariensis really get going. I used to buy those metal 'half moon' supports but I resent paying a small fortune for them, they always seem ridiculously expensive.

The Gladiolus byzantinus are growing strongly now. Back in the Autumn I planted one hundred and twenty five bulbs amongst the long grass down in the field and they seem to be popping up unscathed. We have a lot of red Squirrels and other rodents that would delight in digging up bulbs carefully planted in a remote position, not to mention hungry wild boar who can churn up turf with the efficiency of an industrial rotivator

A couple of late additions. I'm planting more grasses in the garden at the front of La Grande Maison, adding another six Calamagrostis 'karl foerster' plus replacing Coreopsis 'limerock ruby' which for some reason died after this winter. I don't really know why, It wasn't particularly cold, the ground drains easily, they never sat in the wet and I don't think anything chomped away at the roots, it's a mystery.


  1. It looks like everything is coming along nicely. I've never had success with coreopsis surviving year to year. I think the ground just gets too wet here in the winter and they don't like that.

  2. Your newly emerged plants and seedlings look fantastic. My Pennisetum and Panicum are always slow too.

    I've never tried one of the rubra Coreopsis but 'Zagreb' lasted for many years.

  3. Beautiful, again.

    One correction though. Industrial rotivators churn up turf with the efficiency of hungry wild boars. You had that one backwards.

  4. Yes weird here too Rob, some things (like the Dandelions) so quick, other things slow. Love your crane by the way.

  5. Hi Rob, just stopping by to see what you've got planned for this year. I didn't do grasses this year because they are so invasive in my gardens even if they say not. They take over. I hope you don't get a frost--and I hope we don't either cause my annuals are already in the ground.

  6. Maybe a little slow but your garden is looking good to me. Diane

  7. Those glads should look a treat Rob later this year ~ well worth the effort of putting them in. I thought that grey squirrels were troublesome enough but wild boar must take the biscuit. That growing too many more seedlings than you actually need is a factor that a lot of us have in common. Would be happy to do some swaps if you were nearer :) Brilliant word verification for a visit to your blog- i.e. phrance !

  8. I've got way too many seedlings too Rob! I'm also doing grasses this year for a very dry but sunny bed near the house.

    Just out of curiosity, how's your petanque court coming on and did your spanish tiles ever turn up?!

  9. Thank you for sharing your pretty garden. The grasses late to emerge are classic "warm season" grasses, usually from winter-frigid places in the USA. They've figured out they sometimes get frosted in their homeland when they wake up too early.

    Coreopsis 'Limerock Ruby' is notorious and infamous here in the States for being very tender, really behaving like an annual in places that get a whiff of freeze in winter. There was definitely some unscrupulous marketing going on when this plant was introduced as a hardy perennial.

    Part of the issue is that the formerly annual Calliopsis is now classified as a Coreopsis, and breeders have been using Calliopsis to intoduce unheard of colors into Coreopsis: salmon, peach, mahogany, red. At least here, marketers are trying to be more honest about the plants. The better nurseries are listing the tender ones as "annual" Coreopsis. The plants are gorgeous, but the price for one annual plant is a bit outrageous. Doing some research on the new Coreopsis coming out is necessary today, but there are some amazing annual and perennial ones now.

    On the other hand, you can still have old-fashioned fun with annual Coreopsis by growing them cheaply from seed. Just look for seed of Coreopsis tinctoria or Calliopsis tinctoria, depending which name is being used by the seed vendor. Thanks again. KM

  10. Everything looks like it is growing at the right rate. Here we started with rain, then hot temps, now it is cold and windy, tomorrow hot again. It is a wonder how plants know what to do! I went to the place where I purchase plants and picked up pennisetum. I wasn't sure what it would do so I'll have to look it up, but it is suppose to grow in our zone. I hope so I've been getting my new garden house flower bed ready.


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