This October, we're celebrating the moments of transformation in the High Line gardens created to captivate, draw us in, and show us a different way of looking at nature. As part of Celebrating Fall at the Woodland Edge, we'll be featuring related plants throughout the month. Follow along on social media using #HighLineFallCelebration.
As we begin the second week of Celebrating Fall at the Woodland Edge, I am excited to showcase the one grass I believe steals the show, Muhlenbergia capillaris, or pink muhly grass. While completely inconspicuous during the summer season, in fall it explodes into a beautiful hazy pink bloom.
This native grass has a historic range extending from New York to Texas, but unfortunately it is endangered in most states due to land development and over-cultivation. If you thinking about this grass for your garden, it should only be obtained through reputable nurseries and never taken from the wild.
Muhlenbergia capillaris encounters few problems with insect pests however may occasionally develop rust. It is best to propagate this grass by division in spring. In the garden, Muhlenbergia capillaris can be grouped to create a stunning autumn display or be loosely incorporated into naturalistic plantings to accent other fall flowering perennials.
Pink muhly grass form clumps growing to be about three feet tall and wide. As with most ornamental warm season grasses, it prefers full sun to be able to reach its maximum potential. It has a preference for slightly acidic well drained soil but will still grow in poor quality soils. In conversations with Senior Gardener John Gunderson, we discussed how Muhlenbergia capillaris here on the High Line wants more consistent moisture during bloom than other warm season grasses that are planted with it.
WHERE TO FIND THIS PLANT
Muhlenbergia capillaris can be found in the Washington Grasslands, just north of Little West 12th Street.
The High Line's planting design is inspired by the self-seeded landscape that grew up between rail tracks after the trains stopped running in the 1980s. Today, the High Line includes more than 500 species of perennials, grasses, shrubs, and trees – each chosen for their hardiness, adaptability, diversity, and seasonal variation in color and texture. Some of the species that originally grew on the High Line's rail bed are reflected in the park landscape today. Every week we share one of our gardeners' current favorites with you.
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