how do you grow Leymus arenarius 'blue dune'?

Looking around at images in the internet it's easy to believe that they are plenty of amazing blue coloured grasses around. However the reality is different. In fact there is probably a choice of probably no more than three. You have the festuca glauca cultivars (which tent to suffer from fungal infections), then there is Panicum virgatum, and also Helictotrichon sempervirens. Unfortunately blue grasses are usually significantly bluer in the images than they are in real life. Which kind of leaves (excuse the unintentional pun) Leymus arenarius 'blue dune'. As blue as it is, it does require specific growing conditions. So how do you grow Leymus arenarius 'blue dune'?

Commonly known as known as sand ryegrass, sea lyme grass, or simply lyme grass the clue to its prefered environment is clearly there to be seen.  Leymus arenarius is what you would call psammophilous, a fantastic word meaning sand-loving. The native habitat Leymus arenarius are the coasts of Atlantic and Northern Europe including the British isles and Iceland. 

However before you walk down to the beach, spade in hand, in search of some free plants take care. During the 17th century reign of William III, the Scottish Parliament passed a law protecting Leymus arenarius growing on the Scottish coasts. A century later and under the reign of George I, the British Parliament expanded this law to protect it on English coasts. In fact, this law went as far as declaring the cutting or possession of the grass to be a penal offense. Why? Because the stems are used for roof thatching and for weaving into a coarse fabric. Nowadays, Leymus arenarius extensive root network is used in stabilizing sands on at-risk coastal beaches.

Assuming you have found a specimen you need to be aware that under favourable conditions this plant can produce an absolutely massive root system, hence its sand stabilising abilities. Therefore this is not a specimen you want to be growing in your herbaceous borders. If you already have it and you want to dig it out then it is still likely to return as it can grow back from even small pieces of root. It is best cultivated in a large container, in a well drained sandy soil in full sun. To make the most of the attractive foliage, cut back down to soil level in the autumn to allow a shock of fresh growth in the spring.

For related articles click onto the following links:
FESTUCA GLAUCA - The Blue Fescue


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