How many Octobers have I waited, in hopes, to see if the Gulf Muhly (Muhlenbergia capillaris) in my gardens will show off the beautiful and graceful seed heads that arise from the grass, gossamer and veil-like? How many Octobers waiting to see if my Gulf Muhly would look like those that I see in commercial landscapes or others’ (Growing Optimism) personal gardens? How many times have I transplanted my Gulf Muhly in the spring, after disappointing no-show plumes, only to wait a year or more to see if this spot in the garden is the right spot. I can’t say.
Finally, I think I have the right (two) spots. Yipee!!!
I love Gulf Muhly. When I see this beautiful grass in October, it takes my breath away. The color (a pinkish-purple) is lovely, rich and unusual and the “bloom,” which are actually tiny seeds borne on very thin spikes, is feathery and soft. It’s a sensual plant. As a single plant, it’s lovely. Planted in mass? Stunning! Mostly, I’ve admired Gulf Muhly from afar, because I have too much shade/part shade on my property and I’ve opted for longer blooming plants in the few areas which receive full sun. Gulf Muhly is best in full sun and requires a bit more water than many of the plants that I grow.
My landscape has changed in the last couple of years, so last year (fall 2010), I moved two in a back area which receives the blasting sun in the summer.
Originally, I had three, but lost one over the Summer From Hell. The other two are doing well and in just the last two days, put on their fabulous bloom spikes.
I know, you can barely see the signature pink-purple seed heads–they look spindly compared with other Gulf Muhly around Austin, but I’m tickled to have anything. It will take another 2-3 years to reach maturity and real be show-stoppers. But finally, I’ll have a nice display of this beautiful plant in the back of my garden.
I also moved this one at about the same time last year.
Wow! Enough plumage to achieve a back-lit effect from the west sun! I can die now.
The little spikes to the left are another Gulf Muhly that I moved two weeks ago. It’ll be next year before I see anything from this plant. But in 2 or 3 years? Oh, I can’t wait!
Most of the year, Gulf Muhly is an attractive grass–light green and full. Generally, it’s a tough plant, with higher water needs than some of the other native grasses. In October (or so), those magnificent spikes appear and it’s unrivaled in beauty. It sways in the breeze and when the sun is behind the plant, it glows. As the seeds develop, the seed heads turn a soft light brown. Still lovely. After the first hard freeze, the plant is dormant until spring.
This Gulf Muhly lover lives for the October show.
And the wait is worth it.