Saturday, October 12, 2013

Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Moudry'

Pennisetum 'Moudry'

After two days of rain (3+ inches) it's a wet, chilly morning but I was admiring the way Pennisetum setaceum 'Moudry'--a dark-plumed selection of fountain grass--caught the rain in the morning light.  I'm also impressed that it held up so well to two days of on-and-off downpours.

According to Rick Darke's "Color Encyclopedia of Ornamental Grasses" (a very nice book btw), 'Moudry' is a selection of the species from Japan, and was introduced through the U.S. National Arboretum from seeds received from Baltimore City horticulturist Gerard Moudry, hence the cultivar name. 

I have a love/hate relationship with 'Moudry'.  For most of the year it's just a floppy mound of bright green grass, not unattractive but also not terribly interesting.  But starting in late September it produces lovely, dark plumes and then the bright green foliage is exactly what it needs to show them off.  It really shines at a time of year when most other plants are looking tired and sad.

It's a tough, drought-tolerant perennial and absolutely carefree; these plants have brightened the "hell strip" between the sidewalk and the street and have effectively smothered all manner of pernicious weeds, which were otherwise the only plants that grew there:

Pennisetum 'Moudry'

The primary down side is that it it self-sows everywhere and has a well-deserved reputation for being weedy and invasive.  In fact all of the plants in the above photos self-sowed in just two years from a single plant up the hill in my garden (seen here with Dan and Isabella enjoying morning coffee):

So enjoy Pennisetum setaceum 'Moudry' but if you plant it, keep a close eye on it!

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