Here is an adorable native grass we have in some spaces at Roundrock. This goes by various names: river oats, sea oats, creek oats. And that tells you where you will likely find this bit of whimsey. The botanical name is chasmanthium latifolium. We have river oats in the bottom of the Central Valley, upstream from the lakebed, where the trees crowd in and provide the intermittent shade this plant favors.
The seed heads are flattened, which you can almost see in this photo, and they have been a subject for L’s sketching moments when we sit and try to be still for a while after lunch. In the fall the plants turn from bright green to a straw color that is muted and appealing (to my eye anyway). The seeds tend to stay on the plant all winter, and that suggests to me that they are not preferred by the browsing deer. Though it may also mean that they are so profuse that I can still find them despite the browsing.
When we first had the dam built, the dozer man recommended we cast wheat seeds on it since they would sprout on the first warm, wet, winter day and begin the erosion control on the exposed sides of the dam until the native grasses could move in. He had also recommended oats, which he said would take root quickly and do the same job as well as feed the deer. We did this, as much out of novelty as because of his assurances.
Later, when we came upon the river oats, far up the Central Valley from where we had sown our oats (so to speak), we marveled at how quickly our work had spread. And in such abundance. We imagined harvesting the seeds and making bread or breakfast cereal with them.
Only later did it occur to me that I had seen this plant, in this place, long before we had ever had the dam built. Thus they were wild oats, though not sown by us. Well, that made it even more special to me.