I lived in different parts of the Great Plains from the 8th grade through college; over time, grasses tightened their grip on me, as much as my accepting the wind through them across miles of varying flatness. But for 21 years, I've lived in the desert; arid lands also have appealing bunch grasses.
Here are two desert natives, in order of when they captured me.
Mid-1990's - GIANT SACATON / Sporobolus wrightii
|Early fall - UTEP Chihuahuan Desert Garden, El Paso|
Mature size - 6-10' tall X same spread depending on selection, seed stalks 8-12' tall
Growth rate - fast
Water use - low to moderate
|Seed stalks from early fall, and "that sky"|
|Late winter - USDA Plant Materials Center, Los Lunas (and more of that sky!)|
Nice they weren't cut down in fall, so we can see form and presence over 12" of cubed or rounded stubble for 5 months...
There are some remaining, healthy stands of giant sacatons remaining in arroyos coming out of the Manzano Mountains in the distance. They are mostly urbanized out of the valley areas, which include many upscale homes in denial of place. About the last stand I know of this species was in the southern part of Corrales, and I need to see if I took photos of those before the deed was done. (a retail center with many habitual, higher water-use and non-native plants, plus loads of gravel...)
The above forms are a USDA selection that tends to grow taller, for use as a windbreak. One is called 'Windbreaker' - here
|Late summer - Kelaidis Residence, metro Denver CO|
Early 2000's - ALKALI SACATON / Sporobolus airoides
|Back to the Albuquerque office, looking into them backlit by the afternoon sun - full in almost full sun.|
|How about these seedheads, against a shaded gabion wall filled with some of their broken concrete driveway? Wow!|