Thursday, May 25, 2006

Grass Plantings in the California Native Garden

The California Native Garden was designed and installed by American artist Meg Webster, under commission from the Cantor Arts Center, in June 2003. It was created in conjunction with the exhibit The Changing Garden: Four Centuries of European and American Art curated by Betsy Fryberger. The site presented to Meg Webster originally was a lawn surrounded by plantings of mature trees: redwoods and giant sequoias on the Keck Science Building side, and coast live oaks and holly-leaved cherries toward Lomita Way. The land was slightly undulating, with areas of poor drainage. This web page lists the grasses and other graminoids growing in the garden.

Grasses present May 23, 2006; * = blooming

Calamagrostis foliosa, Mendocino Reed Grass * -- a smaller, finer version of C. nutkaensi, it is endemic to the North Coast, is listed by the state as rare and by CNPS as a plant of limited distribution. The species has a number of occurrences on bluffs, cliffs, and coastal scrub in the King Range of southwestern Humboldt County.
Calamagrostis nutkaensis, Pacific reed grass * -- robust upright tufts. Grows wild from San Francisco Bay area to Alaska, often found in mesic to wet areas on beaches, dunes, and coastal woodlands. The summit area of San Bruno Mt. is a fine area to walk through hummocks of Pacific reed grass.
Danthonia californica, California oatgrass * -- only 2 plants noticed
Deschampsia caespitosa, tufted hairgrass *
Festuca californica, California fescue *
Festuca idahoensis, Idahoe fescue *
Festuca rubra 'Molate Point', creeping red fescue *
Hordeum brachyantherum, California meadow barley *
Koeleria macrantha, june grass *
Melica californica, California melic *
Muhlenbergia rigens, Deer Grass (large tussocks, leaves to 3 feet long, with narrow flowering heads) *
Nassella cernua, nodding needlegrass * (mostly disarticulated)
Nassella lepida, foothill needlegrass * (mostly disarticulated)
Nassella pulchra, purple needlegrass * (mostly disarticulated). The California state grass
Phalaris californica, California Canary grass * -- overgrown by the twinberry.

Poa secunda, one-sided bluegrass; Achnatherum coronatum, giant stipa, thin tall clump with wide blades; and Leymus condensatus 'Canyon Prince', ryegrass, forming a robust 3 ft. clump with wide slivery-grey grass blades, were not evident. The latter two grasses had been observed the previous year. Poa secunda did not survive the initial summer watering. The writer hopes that the Baccharis pilularis (Coyote brush) planted as part of the original plan is removed before its spread removes the native prairie facing Roth Way.

Two potentially serious weedy grasses in the garden, which receives summer water, are Agrostis viridis and Ehrharta erecta.

Rushes and sedges

Carex spissa -- large clumps to 1.5 meters tall, encroaching on the meadow on the Roth Way side.
Carex praegracilis, clustered field sedge -- spreading in the bowl, small sessile spikelets spaced along elongated inflorescence. See Curto and Fross (2006) "A sedge by another name . . . is confusing," Western Hortculture 67: 42-46. Another sedge is thriving in the bowl area of the garden; species awaiting confirmation.

Juncus balticus
, Baltic rush -- loosely spreading bright green rush (sun, medium water)
Juncus effussus, common rush * -- tidy bright green large upright clump (sun, medium water)
Juncus patens, blue rush * -- large gray-green clump of upright round stems (sun, low water)
Juncus xiphioides, iris-leaved rush* -- spreading iris-like growth for wet spots (sun, high water)

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Carnegie Institution Landscaping with California Native Grasses (Stanford University)

This page is located at

Native Grasses in the Campus Drive Median

Thousands of California fescue ( Festuca california), Idaho fescue (Festuca idahoensis), and red fescue ( Festuca rubra) grass plugs have been planted in the Campus Drive Median from the Cantor Arts Center to Lasuen durning the past 2 years. The most recent planting was January 22, 2005, when Magic ( volunteers set out about 20,000 plants.

In a Stanford Report article "Tending the Farm" about Herb Fong, reporter Lis Trei writes:

The university is turning Campus Drive into a botanical boulevard featuring Mediterranean zone plants from Chile, South Africa, Australia and the Mediterranean region, interspersed with flora native to California such as coast live oaks. These are plants that survive in regions with winter rainfall and summer drought. "We want the boulevard to be an educational tool," planner Chan [Associate Director Judy Chan, Planning Office], says. For Fong, the plan makes sense because it introduces attractive, low-maintenance plants like bunch grasses. "They're not Mediterranean per se," he says, "but they don't require any water or mowing once they're established. We're trying to reduce the amount of resources we need but still keep a lovely landscape."

Fong's plan is water this initial "prairie" as needed to ensure survival. He hopes he can curtail this watering as the plants mature. He also plans to extend the grass plantings along all the medians and adjacent campus drive areas to reduce the annual grass cover. He will see how successful are these initial plantings prove before moving on to future applications.