Monday, November 3, 2008

Sweetgrass


These two birds are a perfect match for my wildlife photography skill level- posing patiently in their bronze glory while I take thirty different images right up in their faces. I'm not sure who they are supposed to be, great blue herons, maybe? The pair, in their sweetgrass nest, mark the entrance way to a new development next to my neighborhood. The developers put in all the infrastructure, including retention ponds and landscaping, before being stalled by the housing slump. What can I say? There loss is our gain as we now have a combination stroll park and dog park and are all loving it.

Isn't the sweetgrass surrounding the birds almost unbelievably frothy? Sweetgrass (muhlenbergia capillaris or muhly grass) is a workhorse most of the year, surviving with little water, providing a bit of vertical accent but not much wow factor. In the fall, however, when the sun is lower in the sky and shines through its delicate blooms the workhorse becomes a showhorse.

Our town has mass planted sweetgrass in the median of the main drag, maybe in part a tribute to 'the basket ladies' who have for decades made sweetgrass baskets at roadside stands on the same road, practicing a craft handed down from enslaved ancestors who worked the rice plantations along the coast. There is a bit more history and some pictures of baskets here:
http://www.cofc.edu/sustainability/sweetgrass%20brochure.pdf




I found this little sweetgrass basket (hold on a minute while I get the glass cleaner for that mirror) in a neighbor's trash! Any locals, or tourists, who have ever priced the baskets know what a true find that was. A day in the trashpile left it a little lopsided but otherwise none the worse.

Just this fall I put 15 clumps of sweetgrass in a ridiculously sandy, dry, and sunny strip outside my fence where nothing else will grow. Hopefully in years to come it will thrive and put an end to my multi-year quest of what to do with that space. So far, so good.

4 comments:

Northern Shade said...

I like the photo of the bronze birds lurking in the feathery grass.
The sweetgrass has terrific texture, and a lovely fall colour. I imagine the strip planted by your fence will be an autumn focal point as it fills in.

Pam said...

Your photograph is beautiful!

I love seeing the sweetgrass this time of year - and I'm glad they've planted alot of it in the median in Mt. P. I've yet to add it to my garden, but have an area (sandy, like the one you have) that I want to plant some. Maybe soon. I'm betting yours will look great next fall!

Annie said...

Thanks for the comments y'all. The sweetgrass around town is looking mighty fine right now.

Muddy Mary said...

Oh, that looks like what we Texans claim as 'Gulf Coast Muhly'. Well, it sounds nicer as Sweetgrass, and the basket was certainly a sweet find.