Sunday, November 21, 2010

Grasses on the Prairie

The most noticeable feature of my prairie at this time of year is the prairie grasses. As the prairie flowers fade, the colors of the prairie grasses change from blue green to various shades of amber, red, and copper. In the morning hours, the moisture in the air settles on the grasses and intensifies their colors.

Little Bluestem, Schizachyrium scoparium, is the prominent grass in the front yard prairie. Here, it grows among pale-leaf yucca, spineless prickly pear, four-nerve daisy, rock penstemon, several salvias and several other prairie flowers.

Bushy bluestem, Andropogon glomeratus, prefers moist soil and grows in the front yard rain garden. 

A clump of Indian grass, Sorghastrum nutans, its stems glowing in the morning sunlight, adds height (over six feet) to the front yard prairie.

 Another shot of the Indian grass.

Dallas Blues switchgrass, Panicum virgatum, and Indian grass grow in the backyard prairie. 

By afternoon, the fuzzy white seeds of the little bluestem glisten in the sun.

Little bluestem is the backdrop for rock penstemon, pale-leaf yucca, and four-nerve daisy.

 An afternoon view across the front yard prairie.

Butterflies are still flocking to the prairie, but they are finding fewer flowers every day. This yellow and pink southern dogface butterfly is not the rarity I thought it was. I do not recall ever seeing one with this coloration before. It turns out they are very common and this is a fall color pattern.

It will not be long before the flowers and butterflies are gone. The grasses, however, will continue to add interest to the prairie until I cut them to the ground in February to make way for a new season’s growth.


  1. Beautiful beautiful beautiful!!! Thank you for helping to preserve a little chunk of our prairie heritage with your plants!

  2. Thanks Adventures in Nature. It may be a small chunk, but every small chunk makes a difference.

    Collagemama, that is a southern dogface butterfly. The coloration of the butterfly is highly variable. You can see some variations here:
    The one in my garden had the black markings on the inside wings, but I could only see those markings when it was flying.

  3. I love your grasses. And the thoughtful way you've integrated so many species. Until we moved to the Hill Country, I didn't know how much habitat grasses provide. I bet your yard is a bird-central for your neighborhood.

    Hope you have a great Thanksgiving.

  4. Hi,native plants are always the best for gardens. Congratulations for your beautiful prairie

  5. Thanks Ze Julio. Natives are easy to grow and often unappreciated.


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