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Mountain Gardening: Masses of Grasses

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

Ponytail grass, also called Mexican feather grass, reseeds itself like crazy. These self-seeding ornamental grasses are easy on the water, and easy on your budget.

mountain grass

When I first started planning the xeriscape for my Denver yard in 2001, I knew I wanted bunches of ornamental grass. I’d always loved the look of grasses grouped in masses, used as accents, and planted as large specimens too.

Because I was on a tight budget, I couldn’t plant everything I wanted all at once. I shopped garden club plant sales looking for containers of homegrown xeric plants to help me get started.

I hit the jackpot at the Dig ‘n Dream club’s sale. One gardener was selling small containers of ponytail grass for 25 cents apiece. I snatched up a dollar’s worth, then questioned if this variety would be perennial in my landscape.

“What if they don’t come back next year?” I asked the grower.

“Don’t worry,” she reassured me. “They will.”

It took just a few seasons to understand why she was so confident. Ponytail grass, also called Mexican feather grass (Nassella tenuissima), reseeds itself like crazy.

The plants grow in tidy, fountainlike clumps and feature thin, finely textured leaves with golden-blonde seed heads that glow beautifully when backlit by the sun. They dance gracefully in the slightest breeze.

I’ve let the feather grass be the xeriscape designer in my garden, as seedlings pop up each spring in perfect places. Sometimes I’ll dig a few tiny green seedlings to share with friends. I’m always quick to let them know these little treasures will return next year.

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