Gardening where the sidewalk ends

Another Unknown Volunteer November 29, 2009

Leave enough empty space in the garden and interesting things start to show up. I have refrained from completely filling up my parking strip once it was cleared of St. John’s Wort, partly due to cheapness and also just to see what would come to grow here. Allowing nature to fill in the empty spots has been an exercise in patience and restraint – I tend not to yank things out until they have proven to be either totally invasive or just things I intensely dislike.

Blog buddies have helped me ID a few plants that were new here, including Mexican feather grass. It is a spreader for sure, but not so vigorously that I can’t keep on top of it, and I have enjoyed its fluffy tendrils – they are fun to pet (although apparently not fun FOR pets – someone I know spent several hundred dollars having its seedheads removed from the inside of her dog’s nose!). So maybe some of you will clue me in on what this one is, and whether I should stop it in its tracks while I still can.

Mystery grass in parking strip

It’s a pretty sizable grass, and it grew to a couple of feet high over the past two years. I just had an awful thought that it might be Pampas grass, in which case I need to dig it out before it takes over and becomes immovable, but if it’s something more well-behaved I might still need to move it further away from the edge of the bed.

It’s friendly with its next-door neighbor, the feather grass:

Groovy grasses

In this shot, you can see how I have let another volunteer, violets, colonize unwisely large swaths of ground:

Volunteer grasses

Need to get on that one of these days, before it takes over completely!

So, anyone got a guess about my latest mystery plant?


10 Responses to “Another Unknown Volunteer”

  1. Randy Says:

    Bad news time to dig it out. We have about three grasses that are badly invasive, this resembles Johnson Grass and if it is it’s a nighmare. We used a mini excavator when our pond got low and it dug out a patch 10 x 25 ft at the edge of the pond.

  2. Grace Says:

    Hmm…. Boy that’s a toughie. Johnson Grass maybe. But it also looks like Pampas. And it looks like it could be Panicum or Calamagrostis. It looks desirable. You know what I would do? I would dig it up and replant it in a container. This way you can observe it without risk. Just my two bits.

  3. Amanda Says:

    It looks a lot like pampas to me. The good news is we had a clump that was unmanaged for ~20 years that did not have very deep roots.We were able to remove large sections and it did not damage (dream on!) the main plant. It has never seeded itself and moved elsewhere in our yard, just radiated out from the center. Does that count as aggressive? The birds love the seed heads. I have heard it is a good practice to cut them back every spring and get fresh growth.

  4. RainGardener Says:

    I don’t have a clue but looks interesting. I always let things stay ’til I can decide if they are keepers or not.

  5. Bonnie Story Says:

    I agree – cue the spooky music – PAMPAS grass!! Oh noes!!! Shovel time…. oy vey. Great pictures of the thuggery in any case. Best of luck de-pampatizing!!! I have struggled in the past in CA with a horrid patch of not just Pampas, but Pampas mixed with Yucca – OMG. Sliced me to ribbons and poked my eyes messing with it, and now I hear from my old neighbor that it’s all grown back. Oh well.

  6. Interesting…I had grass volunteer show up outta nowhere this year too. Thankfully mine bloomed so I can ID it as not being pampas grass, but that johnson grass story has me wondering…thanks for the heads-up!

  7. I vote Pampas, but a seed head would settle any debate. Surely it wouldn’t get too big to handle before a seed head showed up?

  8. Megan Says:

    I would wait and see until it proves itself either good or bad. Either it starts spreading faster than reasonable, or its flowers reveal its identity. Does it have that paper-cut feeling when you touch the edges of the grass, like pampas grass usually does? It has a graceful form, I wouldn’t have figured it for a volunteer. I suppose it’ll narrow the possibilities if you watch it through winter and find out if it’s evergreen. How bad could things go with one more year? (sorry if I just jinxed you)

  9. jean Says:

    I pulled up a few baby feather grasses yesterday. Sigh. They were so cute.
    I have to laugh at your previous post about your broken gate latch – it looks exactly like mine. I had to get up in the middle of the night last week to stop it from banging in the wind.

  10. Jane Says:

    It looks like a young pampas grass, but if it only grew a couple of feet high in two years, I would say not: my 1-year-old pampas (planted affirmatively, if not very sensibly) died almost to the ground last winter, but now it is easily four feet high again. So I’m thinking the Johnson grass menace others warn of.

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