Western Mountains and High Plains

November, 2004
Regional Report

Favorite or New Plant

Switchgrass
Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) is native to the tallgrass prairie and demanding of full sun but tolerant of various soil extremes. Since it is a warm-season grass, it starts out slowly in spring and eventually forms clumps of leaves about 3 to 4 feet tall. By late summer, the hazy cloud of flowers rise another foot or two above the foliage. When the foliage begins to color in the fall, the yellow, orange and purplish red add an incendiary glow to the landscape. The foliage eventually turns straw-colored, and the sturdy stems contribute a visual silhouette to the winter landscape.

The species varies in height, habit and fall color, and is best used in prairie-style gardens or for wildlife cover. Switchgrass grows 4 to 6 feet high and is hardy to zone 4.

Clever Gardening Technique

Make Your Own Plant Labels
If you have some old, vinyl, mini-blinds hanging around in the garage or shed, put them to use. You can cut the slats into 6- to 8-inch pieces to use as plant labels. They are easy to write on with a wax pencil, and they will last for years. Use these to mark your bulb plantings so you will know where they are next spring.

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Special Report - Garden to Table

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