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Feel your oats! (but don't pick them!)

As we sit in claustrophobic cubicles daydreaming of meandering along a sandy beach being greeted by blue green waves gently lapping at the shore and inching back toward a perfect blue horizon, we do not usually think of grass. While grass is wonderful, lush and verdant, a welcoming carpet for bare feet and pets, it is not usually part of that imaginary setting we create for ourselves when we think 'beach'. Not only does St Augustine require a lot of water and care, it would just look out of place in our seaside daydreams. But there is grass here and it does not just look pretty, though it certainly does, it also does vital work.

Commonly called Sea Oats, Uniola Paniculata is a hard-working, drought resistant grass that not only helps to keeps our dunes in place but they also contribute to the unique features of any coastal vignette. Where a plant with more of an ego would be out of place in settings where the sky and sand and sea command attention, they would also be unable to not only survive but help such an ecosystem.

They are protected in many coastal areas and you will be fined for endangering them. Not only do they literally keep our dunes in place but they provide food for many animals: red-winged black birds, sparrows and song birds as well mice and marsh rabbits. Hard working plants indeed!

Seen anywhere else this humble grass might be considered less than comely. With their bleached ecru appearance, it would be easy to think of them as less than lively. However, as sentinels watching over our beloved beaches, they are actively creating the very ideal after which we yearn. Their elegant slender beauty adds to the serene and minimalist effects that wow so many of us every time, in person or our dreams.

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