This is the time of year when the ‘Shenandoah’ Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) really starts to shine. The leaves take on more burgundy color and the airy flower panicles take on a purplish hue.
I’ve got one mature clump of ‘Shenandoah’ growing in the Lamppost Bed where it grows a little over 3′ in rather poor soil.
I’ve liked ‘Shenandoah’ well enough that I planted a couple more – one in the Lamppost Bed and one in the Parkway Border. They’re still quite small.
Here’s a closeup of the flowers. I think we need another kind of lens to do really tight closeups. It feels a little odd to call these “flowers”, I tend to think of them as seedheads, even before they have seeds. Did you know that grass flowers are called spikelets? I think that is a good word. It sounds like the tiny spears would be carried by Lilliputians.
Here we are looking through ‘Shenandoah’ at some blooming Helenium ‘Mardi Gras’ (Helenium autumnale).
There’s also some straight species Switchgrass growing in the Sidewalk Border. I must admit that I really prefer the coloring of ‘Shenandoah’, though the leaves of the straight species have a nice bluish tint. This grass matures to a straw color by the end of fall.
The straight species grows over 6′, and the larger clumps have a tendency to flop. The shorter ‘Shenandoah’ stays more upright. There are 3 clumps of Switchgrass in this border, the 2 younger and smaller ones do stay upright (at least so far).
Unfortunately, ‘Shenandoah’ would be swallowed up by all the Monarda growing in the Sidewalk Border, otherwise I would consider replacing the straight species.
Some people think Switchgrass has good potential for helping with climate change through carbon sequestration. An acre of Switchgrass contains up to 4 tons of root biomass, with roots going as much as 30′ deep.
Do you grow Switchgrass in your garden? Do you have a favorite variety?