‘Bowles’ Golden’ sedge (Carex elata)

As I type this blog, I’m looking out at the start of more chilly rain which will turn to sleet and snow later tonight!  I think we’re all ready for a warmer spring but Mother Nature has yet to release us from the icy grip of winter!  We did have a very productive morning outside though.  Larry H. was mulching all morning before the rain and Larry O. had a bunch of other duties.  The guys moved inside for projects with the arrival of the sleet.  Janice was in to work on some of her man research projects.  Bobby K. worked on a wide range of projects including preparing for the installation of our Garden Art Project in the coming weeks and a project meant to improve the venting in our carpentry area of the Horticulture Center.  Urban was out pruning all morning and Alan M. was in for some painting.  We also saw Mark S., Dick H. and Dr. Gredler today.  I continue to finish some ordering and am getting everything prepared for our huge Spring Plant Sale held in just over 3 weeks!  Hopefully we wont have snow on Mother’s Day!

My plant of choice to share today is a colorful, clumping sedge (Carex) that we use extensively at the gardens.  This is the ‘Bowles’ Golden’ sedge (Carex elata) which is also sold as Carex elata ‘Aurea’ (hardy in zones 4-9).  As you can see in these photos, this chartreuse to golden, grass-like plant (sedges aren’t ‘”true” grasses) offers a pop of color in the full sun to part shade garden.  In more shade, this sedge appears more chartreuse but is still effective.  In full sun, the foliage is a bright yellow but ample water is vital to keep this plant from getting “crispy”.  The foliage has very narrow green bands on the outer edges of each leaf blade but the collectively golden contribution is exceptional.  This is a sedge that likes it wet though!  Reaching heights between 18″ and 30″, this sedge is not drought tolerant and prefers rich, moist, slightly acidic and well-drained soils.  ‘Bowles’ Golden’ sedge will also flourish in a shallow water garden (2-3″ of water) or that perpetually damp location.  Our irrigation at the gardens keeps it happy but in drier areas where we’ve tried it…the vigor is poor and it ultimately disappears.  Native to Europe, Northern Africa and Southwest Asia, this golden selection of the species was original found by E.A. Bowles, a famous plantsman and garden writer, in Eastern England.  The foliage is semi-arching and deer resistant.  Early flowering (see below) occurs in late April until early May as the plant is filling out.  The flowering isn’t overly ornamental but the contribution of color and texture from this sedge is significant in the wetter, partly shaded garden!

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