…. when grass is no longer lawn but a precious resource which you spend a lot of your time thinking about it (and it’s environments).
In an earlier post about Danthonia, I was talking about grass. I said: “Yesterday I spent the day looking at grass!! This is a new country occupation for me. Before in the city there was grass (said in a short, crisp tone – dismissing this noun promptly). Now I am surrounded by grass (said with a suggestion of awe and wonder and never dismissed lightly).”.
It’s true. In the city grass was a nuisance. In my last home I managed to permaculture it all out of my urban block. More or less my whole urban pocket handkerchief of land was edible or of scrub height. Grass equated to lawn. A socially accepted way of “painting” your nature strip. For me it was time consuming; a waste of time. I didn’t even refer to it as “grass” – it was just lawn. The personality of the grasses were lost by referring to it as “lawn”.
And then I moved to the country and saw grass, as I said above, said with reverence and appreciation.
Suddenly grass was no longer lawn – described in one flat word. Now it can be described as fed, cool season, warm season, tropical, introduced, exotic, native, perennial, annual, tussocked, ground cover, rank, verdant, nutrition, forbes, weeds, assets, spindly, robust……. the list is endless as the attributes of grass are endless.
Because there are so many aspects of grass, today I just want to give some examples of their structural diversity. I don’t have many photos “on tap” (meaning on my hard drive) so I will post the few I have.
Jude is a grassland ecologist which means, in my view, she knows EVERYTHING about grasses. Gradually she had made me see grass – actually SEE them (rather than “it”) – not as something that just covers the landscape but showed me the individual plants. The “it” (grass) became a plethora of diverse botanical wonders (them)!!
Suddenly “that” grass became a tussock of QLD Blue Grass or Red Grass or Coolatai Grass or Windmill Grass or Barbwire Grass (I will have to get a photo of Barbwire Grass – it is really cute – it looks like barbed wire but is gentle on the animals.). Suddenly, just like a classroom of kids, each grass has its own persona and structure.
Each grass likes certain environments – sun, shade, dry, damp, rocky, fertile soil, infertile soil…… Just like kids. Some kids like sitting still, some like running, some like carrots, some love junk food, some survive in any situation, some need more balanced surroundings…..
You just have to take the time to observe and interact with your plants (and kids) to notice what works for them. No use trying to plant seeds where the conditions are not what they like. They simply won’t flourish. It’s like putting an uncoordinated maths genius in the basketball team. She won’t flourish. So put her in front of a computer. Or the hyperactive kid – give him dozens of buttons to learn the patterns of multiplication – not a pen and paper and make him construct the wheel instead of trying to get him to learn about 𝝅!!
Plants are not different. Try to sew oats where its dry and degraded. They won’t grow without being encouraged to do so (synthetic fertilisers etc – another story, another day).
Coolatai grass luckily likes these more challenging landscapes – otherwise we wouldn’t have any cover. The GO was overstocked with goats in the past and the goats were left to overgraze and degrade the grasslands on The GO. Luckily the thistles and Coolatai grass moved in to start the repair job. With their assistance now in the beginning, slowly the native perennial are growing back again.
Here are some of my local grasses. I had to learn to note their different seed structures, colours, leaf shape, length and placement pattern to tell them apart. I’m still hopeless with their names but I now actually note there are different species present. Click on the gallery to get a nice close up view of these beauties!! (I’m learning to be a photographer, okay – take photos, as well with a tiny digital pocket camera!! I love this learning curve inspired by my blog!!)
(Mmmmmmm…… I’m trying to insert a photo gallery for the first time……. Mmmmmmm it doesn’t seem to be working………. a nice big blue empty box with a camera in it instead of photos…… Mmmmmmm……… I might have to revert to old insertion method……. Ha – I just checked preview and it IS working. Oh – my first gallery!! Ta daaaaaa!!! Yaaahhhhooooo!!! Another step forward in the blog learning curve!!)
So there you have it!! A glimpse into my grasses (forever reverently plural)!