‘King of grasses’ Kurt Bluemel, 81, who re-created a savannah for Disney, dies

 In National News

ob-main-bluemel11Kurt Bluemel, a Maryland nursery owner who became nationally known as the king of grasses for the hundreds of ornamental varieties he cultivated and who re-created an entire African savannah for the Walt Disney Co.’s Animal Kingdom resort near Orlando, died June 4 at a hospice in Towson, Md. He was 81.

The cause was cancer, said his wife, Hannah Petersen Bluemel.

From his wholesale nursery near Baltimore, Mr. Bluemel was at the vanguard of a gardening movement in the 1980s that championed the use of ornamental grasses and perennials as a way to bring nature, life and movement to residential landscapes he found achingly dull.

Steeped in German gardening traditions that replaced one form of grass — the lawn — with tall, attractive and dynamic grasses from meadow and prairie, he set out to grow, plant and change a suburban garden style that puzzled and bored him when he emigrated to Maryland in 1960.

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