September 5, 2020
Melissa has had Pampas Grass (Cortaderia selloana), planted in one of her driveway planters for several decades. Although she moved to Kansas with me for an eight-year stretch, she cannot ever remember it blooming. The plant bloomed this week and I wondered why it was blooming now when it never had before. When I checked online, I read that Pampas Grass is native to southern South America, including the Pampas region from which it is named. While it is used as on ornamental plant in America, it has been banned in Hawaii and New Zealand because of its ability to outgrow and displace native plants. The site mentioned the plant prefers full sun, which probably explains why it does not bloom very often. We have it planted under a shade tree.
Along with the Pampas Grass we got another surprise from our Elephant Ears (Colocasia formosana). These are planted in the full sun along the front of the house and have probably been there as long as the Pampas. They provide a tropical effect in their setting and are mixed in the bed with several Naked Ladies. These plants have large foliage, which is reminiscent of elephant ears (hence the name). When I looked today there were several blooms sprouting among the leaves. Again, in the decades these have been in the bed they had never bloomed. Here was another anomaly
I texted a picture to Melissa and asked if she knew this plant bloomed. Neither she nor her gardener friend had ever seen a bloom, but there it was. I went online and found that while they can bloom, this is not common in climate Zone 7 in which we live. The site said about the bloom, “The inflorescences are the typical aroid type with a white to yellow or light green spathe surrounding the spadix (What?). They can be large, fragrant, and attractive.” While these are usually hidden underneath the foliage, our flowers are visible. The fruits produced are globular green or yellow berries that contain several seeds. I hope we will get these as well.
THOUGHTS: The Pampas Grass is an anomaly because it has not bloomed. It is known to be prolific, but Melissa has struggled to keep it alive. Two small plants we established last year did not make it through the winter. The Elephant Ears are an anomaly because they have produced a rare bloom. The Ears themselves have always grown well, and after dying back in the hot summer and cooler winter, always return. I do not know if you can rack these two anomalies up to climate change or not, but the odd weather patterns we are experiencing this year have made a difference on our yard. I used to pay no attention to these patterns, but now I do. Perhaps we should pay attention to the other shifting patterns that have coalesced this summer. We cannot allow the realizations gained to be written off as anomalies. We need to do the work. Change is coming and it starts with you.