Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Carex testacea

Alstroemeria aurea dwarf cultivar

Carex testacea Orange Sedge
with Cape Daisy (Osteospermum ecklonis 'Nuanza' Copper Purple

The New Zealand native sedges/grasses which are shaded brown usually get politely called bronze, orange or tan coloured and can be an acquired taste if you are not used to seeing them planted as garden ornamentals. The reaction when first seeing them is that they must be dead and indeed can look so if planted in groups on bare ground or just surrounded by mulch. Perhaps they evolved this colour so as to appear unpalatable to grazing animals. When used in a garden they make a terrific foliage contrast with silver leaved or purple plants as well as with warm coloured flowers with orange tones. I like to use them with the bright Cape daisies or the richly coloured dwarf Alstroemeria aurea, pictured above, which is just coming into flower.
The other New Zealand Carex species to look out for in this colour range include Carex buchananii (Leatherleaf sedge), Carex comans 'Bronze" and Carex petriei. The latter takes on a wonderful soft pink tone at certain times of the year. All are frost hardy and suitable for container growing and deserve a place in both large and small gardens.

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