En Español

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
1 rating

Saturday - November 03, 2007

From: West End, NC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Plants for a Zen garden in North Carolina
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I am looking for plants that would be suitable for a ZEN style garden in North Carolina

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants believes that you are looking for simple, graceful plants with a somewhat ordered shape that will lend an air of serenity to your Zen garden.

GRASSES:

There are several bunch grasses that have this quality of grace and simplicity that would be suitable.

Eragrostis intermedia (plains lovegrass)

Muhlenbergia capillaris (hairawn muhly)

Deschampsia cespitosa (Tufted hair grass)

Elymus histrix (Bottle-brush grass)

Spartina pectinata (Prairie cord grass)


SEDGES:

Sedges are another possibility. They look very much like the grasses, but have the advantage of most of them being evergreen.

Carex blanda (eastern woodland sedge)

Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge)

Carex texensis (Texas sedge)

Carex stricta (Erect sedge)

Rhynchospora colorata (starrush whitetop)

 

SHRUBS AND SMALL TREES:

Paronychia virginica (yellow nailwort)

Comptonia peregrina (sweet fern)

Yucca filamentosa (Adam's needle)

 

LARGER TREES:

Juniperus communis (common juniper)

Tsuga canadensis (Eastern hemlock). The fine texture of this tree makes it very attractive. Although it can grow to be a large tree (80 feet tall and 40 feet wide), it can be trimmed into a shrub. There is one variety, Sargentii, that has weeping branches that would be very attractive in a Zen garden setting.

You can see other lists of recommended native plants for your garden (not necessarily a Zen garden) on our "Recommended Species" page and on the North Carolina Botanical Garden web page.


Eragrostis intermedia

Muhlenbergia capillaris

Carex blanda

Carex pensylvanica

Carex texensis

Rhynchospora colorata

Paronychia virginica

Comptonia peregrina

Juniperus communis

 


 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Possibility of replacing Bermudagrass with native grasses and wildflowers
November 24, 2008 - Are there any native grasses and wildflowers that can compete with bermuda grass to make a nativ-y wild area without removing the bermuda?
view the full question and answer

Thicken clumps of Panicum virgatum in Stafford VA
July 22, 2009 - I am growing Panicum Virgatum varieties that will be transplanted in September to form a Native American maze project. I have given the quart size starts a root fertilizer when I planted them to try ...
view the full question and answer

Flowering native perennials for St. Louis
August 09, 2007 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I'm trying to landscape a yard that sits on rocky clay soil in St. Louis, MO. The front yard has been difficult because of its brutal southern exposure - the afternoon sun ...
view the full question and answer

Need help with dying clumps of Cedar Sedge
June 24, 2015 - Carex planostachys. This grass was planted 2 years ago in light shade. It grew well until this year. Now some clumps are dying. Others in same area look fine. No insects can be detected. Why are...
view the full question and answer

Replenishing a fallow field in Central Geogia.
February 22, 2010 - I have recently taken a 54 acre field out of cultivation and would like to replenish the soil with native cover plants. There is a slope to a portion of the field that is experiencing some erosion. I...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center