Horse and bergia?

The very first day of my gardening apprenticeship at Ripponlea, Melbourne, I was riding on top of a heap of rubbish on a trailer, and a work experience student was pointing out a few of the features of the garden.  I swear, to this day, that she pointed to a huge long fence covered in a wiry climber, saying “And that’s the horse and beckia hedge”.

I eventually came to understand that it was the Muehlenbeckia hedge, and that it must have just been her plant-name-by-visual-association system that had let her down.  Her mule had become a horse.

It has made me a little sceptical about using the system myself, though I always remember the name Cortaderia (Pampass grass) by imagining a stag hunt, and Symphoricarpus (snowberry) by conjuring up a full orchestra.  (Hmm.. I might delete this.  Not sure if it’s the sort of thing one should confess).

Anyway, that’s all a typically long intro to get round to discussing my current infatuation for a crazy pink grass named Muhlenbergia capillaris that I’ve just spotted in the flesh for the first time in the USA.  I first saw it on the High Line.  You’ve already seen this pic on my earlier post.  Muhlenbergia is lurking low on the left, apparently having bled a bit of colour from a passerby’s hoody.  I stood glaring at it for a while while my mind googled madly through old files, trying to conjure a name, or recall an earlier meeting.

The next day, I stumbled over it again at Chanticleer, just outside of Philadelphia.

It’s nothing like the colour that creeps into other grass seed-heads, which is usually a subtle diffusion through the predominant straw-hues of ripeness.  It’s like fairy floss.

And I’ve since heard that it’s already in Aus.






Travel courtesy of Ross Garden Tours


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7 thoughts on “Horse and bergia?

  1. Hey there! You mentioned it’s in Australia – where!? I’ve been hunting for this grass for ages! I’m in Melbourne. Thank you!

  2. A rose by any other name. Rosa is a latin name. If we stopped to think we would realise how many latin names are in common usage. Rhododendron, Camellia, Hosta,
    Fuschia , and there are no common names for these plants. Well there may be but they are not in common usage.

  3. Well at the risk of revealing myself as a complete gardening fraud, my ‘Go-to Phrase’ when completely surrounded by Garden Experts and they’re pronouncing high falutin’ Latin names… “Oh is that a Euphorbia?”… some kind expert will patiently suggest “No it isn’t but it is rather like the Euphorbia mega-purple-variant” and you can sink back into your happy fug of ignorance feeling as if you’ve made a ‘Contribution’ to the garden conversation.

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