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Report From An Opinionated Gardener – January 5

It’s a grass that snuck up on me…one of those plants that has no huge, colorful flowers or in-your-face foliage. I liken little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) to words like assiduous: not commonly used, but perfect for particular situations.

Once you know this native grass you suddenly see it everywhere, at least in the Central and Northeast United States. It’s the short grass whose white seed heads shine in the setting sun along roadsides. Little bluestem is the reddish foliage that catches your eye in early winter, and the one that’s still standing after a couple of snowfalls.

Three years ago I planted three of the ‘Blaze’ varieties of this Schizachyrium in my dry garden along the road, and I intend to order more this spring. After I was familiar with the plant my eyes were open to the natives that I now am able to see throughout Poison Ivy Acres.

This grass reminds me to keep my mind open, always. There are little-recognized gems in every landscape, person, and situation…once we seize the opportunity to get familiar with them, our lives are enriched from then on.

Lately I've been smiling at the one self-seeded native plant at the edge of woodland that slopes down to the lake. Thanks for your willingness, little bluestem.

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