Amazingly, time to cut the grass

When I was growing up in suburban Chicago, the only summer chore we had that was even remotely garden-related was cutting the grass. Maybe you call it "mowing the lawn". Whatever. The act of pushing a mower over the turf grass that covered your yard. Not a favorite activity of pretty much any kid. I remember only two things about cutting the grass in the summers of my youth: the self-propelled mower with the handle that would actually fold over the top of the mower if you pushed too fast (how did I never lose any toes?), and the after-mowing reward of an ice-cold glass bottle of RC Cola in the almost-as-cold basement in front of the Cubs game on TV.

All of that has almost nothing to do with today's gardening project, except that grass is involved. And cutting. Not turf grass though -- ornamental "purple fountain grass". In fact, the small plants that I've been overwintering. They're thriving now, as I expected.


The thing is, they're doing so well that they're taking over the growing table, and hogging more than their fair share of the light:

So I'm going to give them a little trimming. I would normally cut them pretty low, but some of them are growing a little strangely, creating these "clusters" above ground, so I'll have to cut higher:

In another month or so these may start to produce root stubs -- that's what happened to some of these plants over the summer. At that time I'll be able to cut them from the parent plant and pot them up, producing even more plants (which is my goal for these grasses this year -- I want a "mass planting" of these grasses this year, and that means as many plants as I can generate).

They've got a good amount of normal basal growth too:

So time to bring out the mower...

This is about as simple as it gets: just grab a handful of leaves and snip!

But first, I want to enjoy the lovely arching foliage for a minute...

Ok, mow away!

Unlike a lawn of turf grasses that look better after a mowing, I can't say that these ornamentals look better:

They will use less water now, and will hopefully produce even more leaves and stems. They have the same "freshly-mowed lawn" smell as an actual lawn too. Ahhhh...

With that smell in the air I can forget about the ice that is building up on all of the bamboos outside, bending them down and potentially breaking many of the culms. I can also forget about the half foot of snow that will follow the ice tomorrow, with periods of more ice mixed in.

A deep breath and that smell tells me that it's summer again, and that spring is just around the corner.

Wait, what?!

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TC  – (February 1, 2011 at 6:55 AM)  

Did you enjoy a Royal Crown soda after trimming those purple fountain grass?

Alan  – (February 1, 2011 at 7:06 AM)  

I'm not even sure it's available in stores around here. I'll try to remember to look next time I'm at the store. I'll only buy it if it's in glass bottles though. :-)

Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (February 1, 2011 at 9:47 AM)  

Your fountain grass isn't growing, it's EXPLODING! At the rate it's going, you'll have no problem creating a mass planting. It will be stunning.

Could you post about the setup in your garage, your grow table and lights? That would be of interest to a lot of people.

I was just reading about your weather and thinking of your bamboos. I hope they'll be OK. There's little you can to protect them, is there? Keeping my fingers crossed that it won't be as bad as feared.

:: Bamboo and More ::

anne  – (February 1, 2011 at 9:51 AM)  

So let's take a guess which month we will see grass again, let alone mowing! I don't remember ever getting this much snow. We lowered some of the mounds around our driveway last night to make it easier to shovel more of it on today and tomorrow!

Love purple fountain grass - I don't overwinter anything since I just grow plants in our zone - it will be nice to watch yours thrive.

By the way, there's a house around the corner that has bamboo and it is now officially fully covered with snow - that's how much we have.

Alan  – (February 1, 2011 at 10:02 AM)  

Anne -- You get snow every week, and it seems to come in 6" increments (6", 12", 18"). That really starts piling up! I have fond memories of a couple of winters like that in Chicago growing up.

Gerhard -- good idea! I'll post about the table setup once I get the bottom table cleaned up and ready for seed starting. The bamboos are pretty loaded with ice right now, so the snow will actually protect them from the bitter cold winds that will follow -- if it doesn't snap all of the culms. (This is why I stayed away from vivax)

JiffyJ  – (February 1, 2011 at 11:23 PM)  

Been lurking, happy to find someone with such enthusiasm. Love your blog, Alan!

The tease of spring is painful. Especially here in Southern NV. One would think I should appreciate that 2 days this week were over 60 and I didn't even need a sweater on those days.

However, it seems to make me all the more bitter that it will be 18 degrees in a few hours, last frost will not be until mid-March and daytime temps soar, and will likely freeze once more in April.

I certainly don't miss shoveling the drive though :)

Alan  – (February 2, 2011 at 6:50 AM)  

Jiffy -- Thanks!

I agree that the tease of spring can be painful, but it's also welcome. I love getting exceptionally warm days in Feb or March. I don't like the exceptionally cold days that we sometimes get in April though.

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