In This Issue
Growing Grasses for a Prairie
Our propagation team sowing seeds of Panicum anceps.
Our nursery lies in the Piedmont region of North Carolina. At one time, parts of this area were covered in Piedmont Prairie, a natural landscape with scattered trees and populated by grasses, wildflowers, and large herbivores. Only a few remnants of this ancient ecosystem remain.
Sarah P. Duke Gardens in Durham is creating a small, Piedmont Prairie to teach visitors about the beauty, diversity, and importance of this threatened ecosystem.

Affiliated with Duke University, the gardens are composed of sections that highlight distinctive plant collections. The Blomquist Garden of Native Plants features more than 900 species and varieties of regional native plants.  Annabel Renwick, Horticulturist in the Blomquist Garden, is leading the prairie project. She has collected seed from existing populations of prairie plants throughout the area. 

Hoffman Nursery will be growing out seed from the grass and sedge species Annabel has collected. The garden's team hopes to finish prepping the site and install plants this summer. You can read about the prairie project in Flora, the garden's newsletter. Called "Riches in the Ditches," the article starts on page 6.

Seeds from stands of native grasses and perennials throughout the region, similar to this one at Penny's Bend Nature Preserve, will be used to populate the prairie project.
Beauty + Function Wins Award
The Artists' Backyard on NC State's campus won an award for stormwater innovation.
Combine enthusiastic and committed students with a real-world problem, and you get innovation. The Design + Build Studio in NC State University's Department of Landscape Architecture  transformed trampled, barren passages around dormitories into lush, inviting spaces. The site also includes features that manage stormwater from adjacent buildings and walkways. Called the Artists' Backyard, the project has created a well-used and beloved area for student life.

The class's efforts recently received an award from the Chesapeake Stormwater Network.  The network, which includes more than 7,000 stormwater professionals, created the BUBBA  awards  (Best Urban BMP in the Bay Award). Most of the awards are given to projects within the network.  The Artists' Backyard won  first place for Best Innovative BMP Outside the Watershed.  This was the first year an award was given to an outside project. The focus was on projects that use nontraditional solutions for stormwater management that can be applied in the Bay Area.
Artists' Backyard Led by faculty member, Andrew Fox, the students managed and executed this low-impact development project from start to finish. The Artists' Backyard included grasses and sedges donated by Hoffman Nursery. We've been helping out the Design + Build class with plant advice and donations since 2010. The students create beautiful landscapes that solve problems with plants, soils, and ecological processes. It's incredibly gratifying to see them recognized for their efforts.

Read more about the award and download a project profile on the BUBBA awards page.
Magical Moor Grass
Moor Grass
Molinia caerulea brings magic to a garden. It's especially apparent in the designs of Piet Oudolf and others who layer and interweave perennials. Moor Grass, as it's commonly called, has ethereal, see-through plumes that wave gently above the foliage. Blooming in early summer, Molinia adds movement and texture to the garden.

According to Noel Kingsbury, a renowned plantsman who wrote Planting: A New Perspective with Oudolf, Molinia is useful because it is long-lived across a range of habitats. It develops a full, mounding habit that stays in place and is relatively low-growing. 

Oudolf uses Molinia caerulea with similar, shorter grasses as a matrix into which he plants other perennials. The see-through plumes of Molinia give a sense of enclosure without completely blocking the view. 

See and learn more about the charm and versatility of this lovely grass in our post, Magical Moor Grass.
In the News: Why Growing Grasses Makes Sense
Ornamental grasses top sales
Ornamental Grasses Top Sales
Ornamental grasses were the top-selling perennials to landscapers in 2014 and are expected to be at the top in anticipated sales for 2015. This is according to a survey of growers and greenhouse representatives published by Lawn & Landscape

The article says drought tolerance and low maintenance remain two of the biggest trends in plant selection. Many perennials fit this profile, with grasses being at the top of the list. Most growers didn't anticipate a big change from 2014 to 2015, so grasses should still be strong through next year.

We'd say this makes a lot of sense. Grasses are beautiful, functional, easy care, and part of sustainable landscapes. Get a closer look at the Lawn & Landscape article.
Residential trends favor grasses
Residential Trends Favor Grasses
The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) recently surveyed landscape architects about the top trends for residental landscape projects. At the top of the list? N ative plants and native/adapted drought-tolerant plants. As homeowners seek more sustainable landscape and water restrictions increase, native grasses and species that are tolerant of dry conditions will continue to be popular. 

More good news? Low-maintenance landscapes was #5 on the list. Yes, grasses fit that trend, too. With little or no need for supplemental irrigation and fertilizer, they're easy-care garden stars.

Read more about the trends in this article.
Happy Grass Makes a Happy Customer
Every grass we grow takes a journey, and it's fun to follow them. We recently wrote about a large shipment of Leymus arenarius 'Blue Dune' we grew for a customer in the Midwest.

The plants were loaded directly from the houses onto wooden racks. The racks protect the plants and are easy to load and unload. The grasses arrived looking fresh and wonderful.

Follow the shipment and find out why this customer says, "...Hoffman Nursery ROCKS!"

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