Dried Grass Plumes

Josh(z8a)May 29, 2006

Ran across this site...good info and photos. josh

Here is a link that might be useful: dried grass plumes

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moving this one down...

    Bookmark   June 5, 2006 at 12:41PM
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Hi Josh,

Good information and nice pics of the grasses.

Which grasses do you yourself dry? I use lots of natives/naturalized grasses (love hordeum jubatum but has to be picked at just the right time), Canada wild rye, red leaved miscanthus, bluestem, and a few I don't know the names of.


    Bookmark   June 8, 2006 at 2:02AM
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Had trouble posting but now I'm recognized as a GW Member again...so aggravating. Anyway, I emailed Kate but thought I'd post in case others might be interested in drying grass plumes/leaves.

grasses I've had good luck with. Like you, I have some pulled from vacant lots or friends' gardens with no identification, plus Cattails, Pampas grass, and Pussy Willow which I love but no room for in my garden.
My favorite that I grow for drying is Chasmantheum latifolia, lovely seedheads picked still green, or when turning pinkish-rose, then cream...holds all colors well. (Looks good growing in a pot, too...I leave those seedheads on.) Stipa tennuissima and S. capillata are also in pots, new this year but I like both...just waiting for seedheads. Miscanthus sinensis "Gracillimus" and "Strictus" and "Morning Light" are easy and beautiful. Also like Panicum virgatum "Cloud Nine". And Calamagrostis acutifolia "Karl Forster".
I even grow the so-called weeds Equisetum (Horsetail) and Cyperus esculentum in pots... also looks good dried. Plus some unidentified reeds and sedges are interesting...also in pots.
I love flower arranging and use the green seedheads or leaves often, plus I have a florist friend who I supply in trade for exotic flowers and foliage...otherwise I'd run out of space in vases or big floor jugs..LOL. josh

One other I'm growing this year is Arundo donax 'variegata' which I've admired for years. So many lovely grasses...josh

    Bookmark   June 10, 2006 at 11:25AM
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I wish I could grow Chasmantheum (sea oats, I think?) because it is so beautiful in the garden, and now that you tell me how beautifully it dries, I am wishing even harder. I grow all sorts of lovely things out of zone, but I've tried it many times and have never had it live over even one winter.

I grow several miscanthus, but this far north I rarely see flowers/seeds except for M. purpurescens (which is nothing to sneeze at, plume wise, or foliage wise, in the fall). Like you, I love using the fresh leaves in arrangements, they are very long lasting and people are amazed/curious. I once made an outdoor vase arangement of cattails and curling M. "Morning Light' leaves for a late evening dinner party, back lit it with candles, and it was a hit with the guests, and for once, even I didn't (internally) think I could've done it better.

Arundo donax 'variegata'... BIG SIGH... No grass has any right to be that big, beautiful, and flambouyant! I admire it in pictures, have even considered trying to overwinter it in my house. I have a bad case of grass envy over this one. The closest I can come is phragmites communis variegata (not as showy, but lovely all the same), but it has become kind of a thug in my garden, even giving the variegated cattail a run for its money.

I am glad to see that you can post directly on GW once again. You are a great resource of information and inspiration.

Kate (Exuberant Gardens)

    Bookmark   June 13, 2006 at 2:49AM
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Kate, Just read your member profile. Can't believe you can grow Japanese Maples way up there...a favorite here too but I never get to see the lovely form outlined in snow. Downsized house/garden recently so now have only one in container, planted with Carex comans 'Frosted Curls'. Elegant companions.

MOBOT lists Chasmanthium latifolia as hardy to zone 3, in fact it's known as -Northern- Sea Oats...so I know it's frustrating for you. You have rounded up some nice plants though...I like variegated leaves too.

Thanks, Kate, for your nice comments...I think you just recognized another glinty-eye obsessed gardener...LOL. Foliage is my first love...flowers take second seat...I would have liked your arrangement of Cattails and Miscanthus 'Morning Light'.

Check out Eupatorium capillifolium, Dog Fennel. It's a tall (6 to 8 feet) airy plant with feather-dusters of white flowers/seedhead which I think you'd like. Dave's Garden has some pretty good photos. It may very well be native to your area and you could collect in vacant lot this fall. You might not want to give it garden space although I enjoy it in garden plus it dries well. Does seed about a little.


Here is a link that might be useful: Chasmanthium latifolia

    Bookmark   June 16, 2006 at 3:11AM
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Pudge 2b

I like making arrangements out of dried grass plumes and also use dried grain plants - wheats, oats, flax, etc. The possibilities are endless - here's a pic of some I've made.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2006 at 11:26AM
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Pudge, That's perfect staging of beautiful arrangements. What are the tall black seedheads on the right on floor just in front of table?

After visiting your photosite, I'm envious of your neatly laid out growing plots and the drying racks are lovely just as they are! Photo #71 showing the fall splendor would make me hate to harvest...LOL

As for the rest of your beautiful garden...the white flowers at dusk made a great photo. Your arbor with birdfeeders is a nice feature...I noticed a woodpecker at work on one of your posts...funny how they seem to prefer manmade objects to trees! Got a giggle out of the sandaled feet in the Lilies photo! Liked the straw figure in miniature veggie patch...this would be fun project for kids. And your Ricinus plant grew huge! As you can tell, I really enjoyed my visit to your far north garden.


    Bookmark   June 18, 2006 at 3:00PM
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Pudge 2b

Thanks for the kind words, Josh. Glad to enjoyed the pictures.

The tall black seedheads are Purple Majesty Millet - a little difficult to incorporate in an arrangement but very showy. Of course, one must sacrifice them from the garden just when they're looking wonderful, but I grow many things as crop out in the raised bed area (the growing plots). That is my play area - well out of sight from the street and not in view from the house.

The birdfeeder arbor was this year's project. It's working out very well, and that Hairy Woodpecker is now bringing its young one to the feeder. Great fun to watch the birds.

If you'd like to know the story behind the sandaled feet in the lilies, this thread will explain it. (Just a bit of fun we far north gardeners had thru the long winter months).

Here is a link that might be useful: bubble of denial

    Bookmark   June 18, 2006 at 8:01PM
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Pudge, What a fun thread...thanks. Down here I hibernate in my airconditioned "bubble" during the hottest months except for dawn water patrol, so I can understand your frustration, although at least I can see my garden thru windows, not just snow...LOL I've sometimes visited the Far North Forum..and always amazed at what you folks pack into your short growing season.

I grew the Purple Majesty Millet a few years ago but it wasn't nearly as impressive as yours. Maybe I'll give it another try. josh

    Bookmark   June 20, 2006 at 8:29PM
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I have bunches of sea oats that I can send if you would like to dry them for your crafts. They make lovely dried flowers.
As far as the grass plumes go, do you find that they dry up and 'flake' all over the place, or do they hold on pretty well?

    Bookmark   August 21, 2006 at 4:16PM
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Arabs4me, what a nice offer...I hope Kims4me (Kate) checks back on this thread.

As for the grass plumes shattering, it depends...which I know is not the answer you wanted...grin. I often pick a few early plumes and then a few later, sometimes leaving a few until late fall. They vary in color and texture so add to the beauty of an arrangement regardless. Some shatter as they dry...some within days or sometimes weeks later. Some last for years. There is no fail-safe method to know for sure that I've found...always just an experiment.
Sometimes in late fall there is just the tall wispy stem left after all seeds have fallen which can be lovely on some grasses.

My experiments this week: I'm growing Job's Tears and the "beads" have formed and colors of pewter and ivory are showing. I'd like to leave the beads on the stem in a vase instead of stringing for a necklace as is usually done...but it will be an experiment to see if they remain on the stem or drop off as they dry. Either way, I'll be happy to have finally grown my own successfully even though just a few in a pot this year. Also I have ornamental peppers "Explosive Embers"growing and brought in a stem to see if the bright red peppers will dry on the stem...if so I'll clip the whole little bush to hang in my kitchen (not to eat...just for decoration). Wish me luck! josh

    Bookmark   August 23, 2006 at 12:59PM
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neil_allen(z5/6 Chi IL)

Josh -- you should have luck with the Job's tears. If you have a lot, you can try hanging some to dry and drying others upright. "Nippon Taka" pepper from Johnny's is an excellent one for drying. It's a bright red that doesn't fade when dried except in bright sunlight and the peppers point upward on the plant, so cutting the stem and hanging it to dry produces a "natural" swag.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2006 at 2:46PM
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Thanks, Neil. I'll sure try that pepper next year...mine is just a tiny 10" twiggy bush with no swagger at all...LOL. And my 3 stems of Job's Tears aren't going to do much but just please me. I'm growing only in containers so nothing reaches full potential but I'm having fun...josh

    Bookmark   August 24, 2006 at 8:03PM
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