Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Landscaping suggestions for small yard in Alexandria, VA
April 20, 2008 - Hi Mr. Smarty Plants, My husband and I are preparing to till up most of our back yard and redo it. I'd like to use native plants, but am open to cultivars of them (as in, a column-shaped Ilex glabra...
view the full question and answer

Illinois native grasses for shade
June 27, 2013 - Hello, my grass has died in a very shady area (standard buffalo grass), and I took this as an opportunity to plant some native grass varieties. I originally thought of buffalo grass, but learned that ...
view the full question and answer

Understory plants for Tuolumne Co., CA
May 14, 2007 - My driveway is lined with purple plum trees. I would like to grow something underneath them. What can I grow that will not harm the root system/health of the trees?
view the full question and answer

Plants for a Narrow, Dry, Shaded Site in Georgia
April 03, 2014 - I am writing from Valdosta, GA. Could you please suggest three perennial shrubs and/or plants that flower at different times of the spring and summer? Also ones that can be planted in a 2 ft. wide s...
view the full question and answer

Use of hand-held seed spreader from Robstown TX
March 20, 2014 - I am planting native turf grass and prairie grasses as part of a backyard restoration on my 1.6 acre home site. My problem is good seed dispersal for the chaffey grass seeds. Have you have any luck...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.