Botanical Inspirations

In Praise of Native Grasses

I hate lawns. I dug up most of mine on a city lot in Portland, Oregon and replaced it with fruit trees, berries, vegetables, and flowers. In the parking strips, I planted drought tolerant species. Now on our property in Northeastern Oregon, I’m battling a much larger swath of smooth brome and other introduced pasture grasses to establish an orchard and kitchen garden.

Growing up in Seattle on the west side of the Cascade Mountains, I always thought of ponderosa pines (Pinus ponderosa, also sometimes called Western Yellow Pine) as exotic trees. They belonged to what we called “the other side of the mountains.” Whenever we drove over Stevens Pass or Snoqualmie Pass, the first glimpse of ponderosa pines thrilled me. I knew we had left behind the rain and dense undergrowth of douglas fir forests (which I also loved) to more open stands where I could wander miles without a trail…