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Melinus nerviglumus 'Pink Crystals' is the most exciting grass I've seen in a long time. I knew it from photos and the occasional gaunt plant in gardens. It was not until this stunning mass planting at the Norfolk Botanical Garden that I appreciated it's potential and real excellence. The foliage clumps are so perfect and lush green. The crystaline inflorescences even bear the scrutiny of a 300mm macro lens and look even better for the intimate examination. On paper this plant is weaker and less grand than a purple or pink Pennisetum. In reality, they have a glint and finesse that is a level above.

This lesson is one that not all of us have learned well. Most small ornamental grasses and sedges need at least two or three dozen plants to be even bearable. Three or six or ten are not enough in open ground. They easily mistaken for random weeds. One in pot is fine but in garden beds go for the big quantity with a margin for losses. The brain and eye need the repetition of that many clonal blobs and the accumulated color saturation to reach the threshold of true beauty. This rule applies to many grasses in general and this dainty, glorious discovery in particular.

Click both images to enlarge.