Panicum virgatum ‘Northwind’ 2014 Plant of the Year™

Panicum v 'Northwind'

Panicum virgatum ‘Northwind’ 2014 Plant of the Year™

Panicum virgatum 'Northwind'

All right: let me just say straight off that I found this story on John Hoffman’s Facebook page, went to the link, read the story, and then just lifted the whole darn thing to my blog-thanks John!!!

I’ve known John for a very long time, a long time and let me tell you Mr. Hoffman is the “Grass Guru”, the “Guardian of the Grass”, the “Yoda of Grass.” so when he blasts out the story and quotes a few guy(s). He’s telling us the straight dope.

I have used grasses for a long time, not to toot my own horn or anything but I was ahead of the design curve on this one, and it helps to have a source like John on one’s side.

One other thing. Looking for a supplier? Especially the liner material, or want to do a massive planting? Then Mr. Hoffman is the man to speak too. Hoffman’s is a great place to do business. Oh, I was not paid for this glowing endorsement of Hoffman’s Nursery.

So check him out, and tell him I sent you, he will probably deny knowing me, but go ahead anyway.

On to the story. This looks like another great Panicum and it’s hard to go wrong in a grass garden if you have a mass of Panicum’s waving in the wind —

Panicum virgatum ‘Northwind’ takes the spotlight as the 2014 Plant of the Year™ awarded by the Perennial Plant Association©.

Panicum virgatum 'Northwind'

Roy Diblik of Northwind Perennial Farm introduced Panicum virgatum ‘Northwind’  in the early 1990s. It came from seed he collected in 1982 near railroad tracks off of Highway 25 in South Elgin, Illinois. As the seedlings grew, Roy noticed one unusual plant growing upright, rather than arching, with beautiful blue-green leaves.

Roy says this about his find: “I think the habit of this plant with its distinct upright growth habit, its durable lifestyle, and appreciated architectural essence has helped it find a welcomed place in many gardens. This is one of uncountable naturally occurring hybrids that occur with all native plants…we just need to keep our eyes open.”

We salute Roy Diblik for his keen eye, and for offering ‘Northwind’  to the nursery world. In addition to this plant’s lovely physical attributes, it is drought tolerant and not finicky about soil conditions. It also tolerates wet feet, making it a stylish choice for rain gardens. Foliage turns brilliant gold in fall. And like most switchgrasses, it’s tough as nails.  ’Northwind’  fits into smaller mixed plantings, where it provides an upright, visual accent.

Panicum virgatum 'Northwind'

Each year, the Perennial Plant Association© chooses a plant that stands out among perennials. Winners are selected for their ability to perform well in a wide range of growing climates, for low maintenance needs, multiple-season interest, and for being relatively pest/disease-free. Panicum virgatum ‘Northwind’ is the third grass to receive this award.

Just in time, we have liners available in 18s and 32s. Landscapers can direct plant now and well into fall. Growers can pot up to gallons for fall sales or go larger and overwinter for spring. We will have more crops ready in early fall, including 50s. Check current availability (requires a user account). Get quick facts, Grower and Landscaping tips, and more photos for ‘Northwind’ on our plant profile page.

via Panicum virgatum ‘Northwind’ 2014 Plant of the Year™ – Hoffman Nursery.

Hoffman’s plant description

Named 2014 Plant of the Year™ by the Perennial Plant Association©. A dependable upright habit and beautiful blue green foliage set this Panicum apart from other switchgrasses. Panicum virgatum ‘Northwind’ is extremely drought tolerant, but soil that is occasionally boggy does not bother it. Beginning in August, a multitude of narrow, open panicles top the plant. One Panicum virgatum ‘Northwind’ in a garden creates a stunning vertical accent, while several planted as a backdrop form a dynamic structural look. Upright Switchgrass was introduced by Northwind Perennial Farm of Wisconsin, and it has since become a very popular Panicum cultivar. –

By Rick Anderson

The Whispering Crane Institute was originally formed to act as the umbrella organization for the Philosophy of Design Symposium, and other seminars and workshops given by Rick Anderson and Richard L. Dube’. In the year 2000 WCI became a sole proprietorship owned by Rick Anderson. Today the WCI provides design and consultation services for Landscape Contractors, acts as a Green Industry think tank, and provides training for others in the form of workshops, seminars, and individual consulting. The WCI also provides written material, opinions, case-studies and how-to articles for industry trade magazines.

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