A far-ranging collection of essays on gardening and life, meant solely to relieve this gardener’s daily frustrations and lamentations over gardening in general and particularly gardening in Kansas. Though I am an old gardener, I am but a young blogger (apologies to Thomas Jefferson).
Well, I've gone and done it now. Some of you out there probably know what the outcome from my most recent rash action will be, but those who do know what will happen haven't shared that knowledge publicly, at least that I can find. So I forged ahead, bravely going where no gardener who is willing to admit it has gone before.
Miscanthus sinensis 'Variegata'
The problem: I'm tired of ornamental grasses that grow too tall and then flop over the roses in an attempt to smother them. Yes, it was probably bad placement in the first place, but how was I to know how floppy some, but not all of the grasses, get? I grow a number of ornamental grasses in my mixed shrub and rose beds and for the most part, I enjoy the extra season of flowering and change they add to my garden in autumn, and enjoy them again in winter as they collect and brave the snows. The Calamagrostis sp, and most of the Panicums mind their manners with a few exceptions, bravely standing up tall and not bothering the next-door neighbors. But many of the Miscanthus, and Panicums such as 'Dallas Blues', just get too darned big for their own good.
I attempted to move some established clumps of Miscanthus sp. this spring that were poorly placed and I was taught once again how difficult the root system of these grasses are to divide and conquer. In fact, they conquered me and I gave up. My second thought was to try cutting them back by half in mid-summer and seeing what effect that would have on their ultimate flowering and size, but I can't find any information about the likely result. Well, to be honest, everything I've read says NOT to cut them back mid-season. Since I know that grasses grow from the base, I am skeptical of that advice and I'm wondering what the real harm will be.
So, I did it anyway. In the upper left, Miscanthus sinensis 'Variegata' has been sheared off so that the Rose de Rescht at its feet can get some more sun. Before, as you can see in the middle picture here, its full size even before flowering is an imposing figure next to the roses around it. And in the picture at the lower right, you can see that I've hacked away at Panicum virginatum 'Dallas Blues' so that it doesn't shade my hard-found new rose 'Lillian Gibson' (the story about that, later). In fact, a total of 5 other Miscanthus along with these two bad boys got a haircut.
Panicum virginatum 'Dallas Blues'with baby rose
'Lillian Gibson' at its feet.
So go ahead, those of you who know what is going to happen, feel free to comment and say what an idiot I am and how you would have told me not to do it. I found that cutting them off was easy to do, about 20 minutes for 7 grass clumps in the evening sun, and I'll do it again in a heartbeat if it isn't too detrimental to the fall display. I'm hoping they mature shorter and more upright and I don't hurt flowering too much. Time, as always, will provide me the ultimate answer. I'll keep you apprised of how the experiment is going.