Saturday, August 11, 2018

A little more applause for Stud Puppy

Stipa scribneri was sold back in the day at erstwhile Timberline Gardens as "Muhlenbergia 'Stud Puppy," a selection brought down from the mountains by TX/CO garden designer Tom Peace.  I took it to the books and found it to be what we must currently correctly call "Acnatherum scribneri," or Scribner's Needlegrass.  I'll stick with 'Stud Puppy, ' because it is. It really is, a real stud.

 Chelsea nursery humored me and grew on some propagules I gave them.   
Pretty cute in their #1 pots!
I could not help myself; I think I bought them back.

What's so great about it?
1. Most clumpgrasses are short-lived. It is not.
2. Most grasses prefer or require sun.  It tolerates bright shade quite nicely.
3. It grows dry, but not unirrigated in Western Colorado, hailing from 8000 feet or so in our mountains, so needing just a tad, weekly or monthly water, if grown down low.
4.  Left un-pruned, so that last year's yellow foliage stays- it still looks good. I think most warm season grasses look ratty if you don't clean them up.
5. It's firework-ball-arching habit makes it a lovely light-catching candidate for Meadow-style gardens, alongside the things like the real Muhlies,  Giant Sacaton grass, and Atlas Fescue.
6.  Grows in any soil.

Part of your classy Halloween yard display.

What are the downsides?
1. It reseeds. A little. So if you are a control freak, I'm sad for you.
2. It is slow-ish to establish.   This helps with #1 above.  But it grows as slow as a Switchgrass in the nursery, for me, and not at light-speed like Grama grasses and others.
3. Its thin substance leaves it casting little shadow, and therefore leaving room at its feet for smaller plants like groundcovers, bulbs, short cacti, and rock garden plants.  It works fine in a medium to large crevice garden.  Oh wait, this was supposed to be a list of downsides.

I've been growing it from three different sources- including my own collection from next to the fire department, I think it was, in Buena Vista.    It all looked close enough I've accidentally mixed them up.

I'll be growing it in the nursery in future years, so keep it in mind should you go to the April rock garden sale at Denver Botanic.

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