When you’re interested in gardens, people ask you questions about plants. When you’re interested in gardens enough to volunteer for the Horticultural Society, more people ask questions – of all kinds. Most of the time, people ask about re-potting their plants or how much water they should give their cacti. But, an interaction with one woman has stuck with me. Here’s sort of how it went.
Woman: What’s that plant outside with the long leaves and that floofy thing on top? Me: Cattail? Milkweed? Woman: No. It couldn’t be that. Wait. I’ll go take a picture with my phone. (pause) Here it is. Me: Oh. That’s purple fountain grass. Woman: It can’t be grass. My grass at home doesn’t have that floofy thing. Me: Well. That’s because we mow the grass before the seed head forms. If you stopped mowing your grass, it would get a seed head, too. Not quite as magnificent as the seed head on the purple fountain grass, but it would get one. Woman (to the other volunteer): She’s kidding me, isn’t she? Other Volunteer: No. She’s not kidding.
I was talking to a couple of friends about “that floofy thing on top” and Courtney reminded me that some seed heads aren’t floofy, they’re spiky. Since that weekend, I’ve been looking at grasses and noticing their seed heads. From far away, they all do look “floofy” – almost like a fox’s tail -- but up close, some are quite stiff and others are spiky. I don’t have any grasses in my garden (I took these snapshots in a neighbor’s garden) but because of that one conversation, and a couple weeks of looking closely at grasses, I’m thinking about including them in my garden next year.
What about you? Do you have grasses in your garden? Are their seed heads floofy, stiff, or spiky? Post a comment and let me know!
Note: Apologies for the lack of Purple Fountain Grass photos. I haven't seen any since my volunteer shift!