California native grass in Sierra meadow

My love for grasses goes on. Feeling the itch to go see wild grasses in native meadows drew me to the High Sierras.  Here we see native blue rye, Elymus glaucus in a large meadow in Eldorado National Forest.

Alas, not all wild grasses are native grasses.  Indeed since 90% of California’a native grasslands have now disappeared it is no surprise to find non native grasses in mountain meadows. In a small roadside clearing (not a meadow in the native forest) I found this Timothy Grass, Phleum pratense, a European grass introduced into New England by a Timothy Hansen in 1720 as a pasture grass.

Martin's Meadow Eldorado National Forest

It’s a beautiful showy grass but I find myself conflicted – loving natives and loving gardens.  In the Grasses book and The American Meadow Garden the most striking photos are those showing grasses catching the light.

So when came across the Timothy grass, showing its stuff in a roadside turnoff to my campground, I couldn’t resist.  I know grasses can be some of the most invasive plants, escaping cultivation into adjoining habitats, and by glorifying them in photos I am only tempting gardeners.  So be warned – don’t plant it, but do photograph it.

What captured my attention was backlight, the morning sun shining behind the grass, leaving the adjoining forest in shade.

Flowering California native grass, backlit, Martin Meadow Eldorado National Forest

I talk a lot about light in the Learning Center (Join), but here what really, really got me excited to photograph this grass were the flowers.  Individually they are small, but collectively the are purple stacks.

Before and After Slider

I see an extraction print in the making here.  Boxing off part of photo draws attention to the flowers but reveals the shape of the the inflorescence.

Wild or not, a work in progress….

Screenshot 1163_744extraction