Saturday, May 12, 2012

Phalaris arundinaceae var 'Picta'

Phalaris arundinaceae var.'Picta', Gardener's Garters
Common names of plants are always intriguing especially when they make reference to a long forgotten custom. Sleeve garters were worn in certain professions to stop shirt cuffs getting dirty and gardeners would certainly have needed them when dealing with this grass which inhabits marshy swamp ground or even shallow water. It is quite possible even that the thin leaf stems of this grass were used as a makeshift garter, tied around the sleeve if you were just about to plunge hands into mud to dig out a plant. This grass is notable for the fresh mint green and white striped leaves which take on a pink tinge as they emerge from the soil. It is sometimes given the name of canary reed grass for the delicate appearance of the inflorescence which brings its height up to about a metre. I grow it in a pot and it does not really need absolute wet conditions to grow well; as mine has dried out without the plant showing any undue stress. A word of warning however, it is a bit of a bolter when grown in favourable conditions and may spread near and far, in much the same way as mint does when given a free reign.
Sleeve garters are now more likely to be worn if you are heading out for an evening poker game with the boys or a night of high rolling at the casino

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