Bunkey has never been of the school that plants grasses, that is, accent grasses. His philosophy is that grass belongs in the lawn and not in the flowerbeds. Last week, Petunia dragged him on a garden tour that featured grasses and sedges. He had to admit that they did add texture to the landscape.
Here are a few sedges for the adventures gardener to think about adding to their landscape. Do be aware that sedges have edges, they need to be handled with leather gloves to prevent “grass cuts” on the gardener.
If you have a dry, sandy spot, and many lakeshore gardeners do, Plains Oval sedge may be just the foliage you are looking for. It gets up to 2 feet tall and 18 inches wide. Another is Penn sedge-it likes dry shade. Described as easy to grow and having a soft textural look, fine textured, arching and semi evergreen, it is shorter, 8 to 12 inches tall, but 2 feet wide.
These sedges want moist or even mucky soil. Bromelike sedge makes a bright green clump 18 to 24 inches tall. It will grow in either full sun to part shade. It looks great with the blue-green leaves of hostas. The two are a study in foliage color, texture and shape.
If you like the look of clumps, Bristle leaved sedge is the one for you. It forms a clump described as porcupine like, 6 to 10 inches tall and wide. It likes moist alkaline soil the best but will grow in drier soil and even rock crevices. It spreads slowly, by rhizomes but can naturalize into a large colony if left unattended. You may need to keep close watch on this one or you may end up with a lumpy looking estate.
If you want a bluish ground cover, Blue sedge may be your answer. It likes full to part shade and a moist soil but will tolerate a drier one once established. The soft, narrow, blue tinged leaves grow 6 to 10 inches tall. It spreads by rhizomes and looks great in a naturalized area that features ferns and hostas.
If you have a rain garden, take a look at Palm sedge. As the name implies, it looks like small palm fronds. It may need extra water in full sun. Mixed with Purple Smoke Baptista, the 2 quickly smother weeds. That description suggests an extremely aggressive combination to Bunkey.
Although gardeners don’t grow sedges for their blooms, one they may try is Short’s sedge. It blooms in May. The “spiklelets” then turn a dark chocolate brown, looking like little cigars.
Most sedges bloom in the spring, then the new foliage starts to grow. Leave them for accent through the winter then mow in early spring and you are done.
Note that Bunkey is not dashing out to purchase any of these plants. He is still not convinced that they are just grass in disguise and thus don’t belong in his gardens.