Grasses flattened by snow can rise again

We go out into the garden quite a bit in winter, sometimes out of necessity, other times just to be out there. One thing we do not bother with is trying to free flattened ornamental grasses from snow and ice.

By midwinter, some have been squashed and are down for the count. Others are amazingly resilient and will spring back up after the ice melts, regardless what we do.

Most silver grass or maiden grass (varieties of Miscanthus sinensis) will come back to attention as the snow melts. Ravenna grass (Erianthus ravennae) will recover but almost always after a hit some of its culms will have been bent and stay down. Perennial fountain grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides), switch grass (Panicum virgatum) and older stands of feather reed grass (Calamagrostis acutiflora) aren't so sturdy and may not recover from heavy snow, but your efforts to remove the weight won't change that fact.

This ravenna grass should be standing ten feet tall but most of its culms have been borne to the ground by snow. Some will right themselves as the snow melts or falls away but others have been broken and won't recover.

This ravenna grass should be standing ten feet tall but most of its culms have been borne to the ground by snow. Some will right themselves as the snow melts or falls away but others have been broken and won't recover.

As for this miscanthus, nearly as tall as the ravenna grass, there is no doubt that its buried stems will right themselves once the snow melts or is pushed aside.

As for this miscanthus, nearly as tall as the ravenna grass, there is no doubt that its buried stems will right themselves once the snow melts or is pushed aside.

This big miscanthus is entertaining and also has sentimental value for us.

This big miscanthus is entertaining and also has sentimental value for us.

We've soured on big grasses for the most part, tired of the heavy work involved in dividing them regularly to keep them neat and vigorous. Yet we keep a few. One of the attractions they still hold for us is the fun of watching and betting on that miraculous recovery.

That big heap of miscanthus, above right, grows alongside our driveway where we watch it resurrect itself during winter. It has sentimental value, too, so we may never give it the heave-ho. It came from Janet's sister, a non-gardener, and its value comes from the fact that she did the impossible to obtain it for us. She did not own a shovel or spade, but somehow wrested a start from a huge clump with a serving spoon. Now that's a woman with heart!