Carex – Sedge: Sedges are as highly ornamental as grasses but tend to be. Happily, like the grasses, they are also unappealing to deer.
Most sedges are native to moist or wet habitats but many perform well in gardens and landscapes with average moisture. Their inflorescences are relatively inconspicuous but their foliage is striking, frequently colored or variegated. Those that are deciduous should be cut back annually in early spring while the evergreen ones should occasionally be cut back to remove old or winter-dessicated foliage.
I love Carex morrowii ‘Ice Dance,’ an extremely tough, zone 5 plant that will survive even in dry shade It grows approximately twelve to fifteen inches high with leathery ever-green leaves edged with a narrow but prominent white band and is an excellent edger. Plant it on two foot centers and within a few years, the rhizomes will creep outward and fill the space between if sufficient water has been supplied. For quicker coverage, plant on one foot centers. Carex ‘Ice Dance’ lends itself to massing, particularly as a “river” in the landscape.
My second favorite Carex is C. siderosticha ‘Variegata.’ It, too, has white banded foliage but has wider, flatter, shorter leaves. This Asian woodland native creeps very slowly. After five years, mine has only spread from eight inches to eighteen inches. This Carex is deciduous and makes an excellent focal point or specimen in the shade garden.
Carex muskingumensis, Palm Sedge, is a very hardy (to zone 4) North American native, found in wet habitats such as low woods and meadows. It is rhizomatous in nature has a very tropical appearance. Grow in full sun with lots of water or in shade as a large massed groundcover. Two cultivars are variegated.
Promise yourself that you will try some of these beautiful sedges; you won’t regret it.