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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.

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

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Saturday - January 28, 2012

From: New York, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Finding Connecticut grasses on website from NY City
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Your site w/ all its varied aids are great, and your answers are so helpful, so I don't want to seem critical with this question. I trained as a landscape architect in the Northeast 20 years ago and increasingly am interested in using native plant species. I'm teaching a planting design class at a university, in which we only use natives, the better to learn about habitat, communities, etc. I'm now a plant consultant at a landscape architecture firm in nyc. I don't like to specify plants that I don't know well, and the best way to get to know plants, of course, is to grow them. We have a small yard in Old Lyme, CT, a village on the LI sound, which is my laboratory. I want to grow a number of CT native grasses in the sunny front yard this summer. One of my first steps of research was to check your website's list of recommended grass species for CT. To my surprise, only 3 were listed. But when I have checked other individual grasses on your website, I learn that the grass I'm looking up is also a CT native. Am I just doing something wrong in my use of the recommended species page? It would be wonderful if I could get a list of all graminoids native to CT in one place. Can you suggest such a place? Is it possible that your site will be that place in the not-too-distant future? I know websites take time and effort to build; I'm not impatient, just don't want to be missing something if it's out there. Again, thank you for all your help in the past, and doubtless, in the future.

ANSWER:

We are very glad you are finding our website useful, we're pretty proud of it ourselves. And may we salute you for turning to native plants and incorporating that into your classes. That's what we are here for, is to turn one person at a time to the correct native plantings for an area and its moisture, soils and light. As each person influences others, we will come closer to our goal of conservation of resources, including breathable air and drinkable water. Thanks again!

You are correct, our website is a moving target, and we are improving and adding to it constantly. What you need to do instead of going to Recommended Species in our website is to go the our Native Plant Database. Using the Combination Search function, search for "Grasses/Grass-like" on General Appearance, Connecticut (obviously) for the state, and in the same search can specify for height, light needs, moisture needs, preferred soils, etc. When you submit on Combination Search, just using the state and habit selections, you will get 381 listings. Narrowing it down with additional specifications will make the list more manageable and you can follow each plant link to our webpage on that grass.

From that list, here are some of our favorite grasses, although we have never gardened in Connecticut, these are specified as native to that state and should do well.

Andropogon gerardii (Big bluestem)

Bouteloua curtipendula (Sideoats grama)

Calamagrostis canadensis (Bluejoint)

Carex hystericina (Bottlebrush sedge)

Deschampsia cespitosa (Tufted hairgrass)

Elymus villosus (Hairy wildrye)

Hordeum jubatum (Foxtail barley)

Muhlenbergia capillaris (Gulf muhly)

Muhlenbergia schreberi (Nimblewill)

Schizachyrium scoparium (Little bluestem)

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)

Tridens flavus (Purpletop tridens)

 

From the Image Gallery


Big bluestem
Andropogon gerardii

Sideoats grama
Bouteloua curtipendula

Bluejoint
Calamagrostis canadensis

Bottlebrush sedge
Carex hystericina

Tufted hairgrass
Deschampsia cespitosa

Hairy wildrye
Elymus villosus

Foxtail barley
Hordeum jubatum

Gulf muhly
Muhlenbergia capillaris

Nimblewill
Muhlenbergia schreberi

Little bluestem
Schizachyrium scoparium

Indiangrass
Sorghastrum nutans

Purpletop tridens
Tridens flavus

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