« Continue Browsing

e-mail article Print     e-mail article E-mail

Don Kinzler, Published February 28 2014

Fielding questions

Q My sister from Minnesota sent me a clipping of a Forum article (Jan. 11) in which you had a photo of pink paintbrush grass (Melinis nerviglumis ‘Savannah’).

I am interested in finding this grass, and I’m wondering if it is available around the country. The soil here in Amish country is very rich. Would this grass do well here, or is it more of a prairie grass?

– Joyce Nickel, Lancaster, Pa.

A I received much mail regarding the beautiful photo of the Savannah paintbrush grass taken at the North Dakota State University display gardens. It is native to Madagascar and the African grasslands.

Because it is hardy only to Zone 8, just the Deep South can consider it perennial. The rest of us across the United States can enjoy it as a beautiful annual grass attractive in flowerbeds and containers. It will do beautifully in Pennsylvania as it does across much of the country.

Rose-pink flowers/seedheads rise above slender blue-green grass foliage in an attractive, round clump. When blooming, the average height is 14 to 18 inches. Plants can be spaced 9 to 12 inches apart and full sun is preferred.

Seeds are easy to start indoors and should be planted 10 weeks before outdoor transplant date. A March 15 indoor seeding date will produce nice transplants by late May. Seeds are available through one of my favorite companies Park Seed www.parkseed.com.

Q Although I’ve addressed rabbit problems in previous questions, judging by the mailbag, this continues to be serious trouble for homeowners this winter. Readers have indicated that rabbit numbers are at near-plague levels and damage has been extensive to shrubs, evergreens and young trees.

They have eaten my clematis vines down to soil level, and have begun tunneling lower. What can be done in late winter to avoid complete demolition? On behalf of all who’ve written I’ll sign this

– Elmer Fudd, Almost Everytown

A During a long, frigid winter it’s easy to ignore the problem except for all the rabbit droppings surrounding home landscapes. When the snow melts and it’s time for spring growth, damage could be extensive.

Deciduous (leafy) shrubs can be eaten back to near-ground level and grow back better than ever. Evergreens do not have this ability and can be ruined or deformed as rabbits consume the lower foliage and strip inner bark. Fruit trees can be killed as tender bark is stripped from the main trunk.

The best rabbit repellent is wire fencing circled around vulnerable species. It often needs adjusting or raising as snow depths increase. It’s not too late to protect target plants, since rabbits will continue to graze until they find a buffet with fresher vegetation.

Although some gardeners have reported past successes with repellents including commercial products, mothballs, soap, fox urine and pepper, they need to be applied at a frequency that wears most of us out.

If you have a gardening or lawn care question, email Don Kinzler at ForumGrowingTogether@hotmail.com. Questions with broad appeal may be published, so please include your name, city, and state for appropriate advice.