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Who Carex Any Way?

Carex can be found in our English Cottage Garden, which is quite shaded.

We are planting thousands of new plants this year in our Children’s and Asian-themed gardens, which are being built. Perhaps no genus is better represented than Carex, or sedges. I absolutely love this diverse genus. There are a number of ornamental options on the market, with many of them already on display in several of Wellfield’s gardens, but this year it is the various unassuming straight species I am most interested in planting.

Before I launch into extolling the virtues of this group of plants, I just need to correct one annoying misprinted point. I do not know how many horticulture websites I have been on, which should know better, that call them grasses! While they may look like grasses, they are not even in the grass family (Poaceace); rather, Carex belong to the Cyperaceae family.

Gardening with Carex is just plain fun. There is a species for about any condition imaginable, since the genus spans the globe. Need a fine textured plant for dry shade,? Got it. Need a plant for full sun and wet? Check.

I asked Scott Namestnik of Orbis Environmental Consulting, a self-identifying Carex freak, what he loves about the genus. He says:

I included several different species of Carex in some new plantings as a part of the functional design layer. This layer’s purpose, as the name implies, is largely “functional” rather than aesthetic. This layer might contain plants whose role might be weed suppression, erosion control, nutrient accumulator or trap crop. Carex species are especially valuable in this layer. Come to the Garden this summer and see if you can find a Carex near you.

Josh Steffen, Horticulture and Facilities Manager

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