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 the above 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.


  1. 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.

  2. PS I think that plant looks like a sort of Clowns Wig someone left out in the rain!

  3. 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.

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

    1. Sorry Kristy. I’ve only heard that it is here. I’ve no idea where. But I’ll promise to tell you when I find out, as long as you promise to tell me if you do…

    2. Hi Michael, any update on where this Muhlenbergia grass cam be purchased in Australia?
      Many thanks & regards Nuala

    3. Still no update, Nuala. I’ll announce as soon as I hear

  5. I bought a few from a nursery in Trentham but they didn’t colour as expected.
    planted both in Kyneton &Barwon heads.
    any ideas?

  6. Hello! Any updates on the Muhlenbergia? I would love to have some!

    1. No updates. As I probably said at the time (it’s late and I can’t be stuffed going back and checking) it’s in the country. Just not yet in the trade, though I know of nurseries begging for seed from the owner of the plants

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