Thursday, November 27, 2008

Stout Bamboo Grass

Austrostipa ramosissima
This is an ornamental grass which grows along the slopes of Great Dividing Range in the Toowoomba region, on red soil.
 It makes an excellent quick hedge, with the plants lasting about three years before they get shabby. Removing the old plants is simple, as they are shallow-rooted clumps. If done in spring, this allows self sown seedlings to grow up i their places. (Older plants lose their vigour if they are cut back at all, so rather than making any attempt to refresh them by cutting them back, it is better to remove and replace them.)

Like so many of our lovely Australian plants, this one is more highly valued as an ornamental garden plant overseas, than in it's home country. In the US, it is known by the delightfully appropriate name of "Pillar of Smoke".
It is frost and drought tolerant.
I find it problem-free, despite its self-seeding habit. Unwanted seedlings are easily removed by hand or killed by mowing.
Like all native grasses, it is an environmentally friendly thing to grow, providing food for small birds and insects, and shelter for small animals.

The tall stems, with their generous spring panicles of very fine seeds are also rather good in a vase. A few Christmases ago, when I was feeling rather arty (and had no grandchildren to amuse) I used a few stems of this grass for a Christmas tree. I decorated it with Christmas earrings and tiny baubles, and was rather pleased with the result!

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