Groundcovers for Shade – and Deer Resistant Too!

There has been a recent explosion in interest in the genus Carex.  Small wonder – with attributes such as great variability and adaptability to many site conditions and being very highly deer-resistant, plant breeders have been producing new cultivars at an increasing rate.  Although they are often listed as grasses, they form their own distinct group as part of the sedge family.   And the Friends’ Plant Sale will offer a few superb varieties for your garden:

Carex Humilis ‘Hexe’ has fine textured foliage and a fountain like appearance.  It is one of those plants that doesn’t mind dry shade, which makes it especially appealing.

Carex Hachijoensis ‘Evergold’ has wider blades, bright yellow to cream, with a green edge.   It stays close to the ground, with a low fountain form, and is very showy.  It will appreciate more sun than other varieties of carex.

Carex Hachijoensis ‘Ice Cream’ is a sport of ‘Evergold,’ but with much narrower leaves and a deep green and cream variegation.  Also featuring that lovely fountain appearance, it will prefer a bit of sun.

Carex ‘Ice Dance’ has stiffer, wider, upright leaves, edged in pure white.  It prefers shade but is unfussy about moisture, and will retain its foliage throughout the winter.  ‘Ice Dance’ will spread in a polite manner to form a very pleasing and weed suppressing groundcover.

Carex pennsylvanica, is, as you might guess, a native.   It features fine textured, shiny deep green foliage and it highly recommended as a groundcover for shady areas in the woodland garden.

Carex ‘Amazon Mist’ is sometimes listed as a Zone 7 plant but I have had it growing curbside, where the salt-laden snow has been dumped on it throughout several winters.  It has very fine foliage which lays in swirls on the ground, looking great until I cut it back in early spring.  It would also be a wonderful ‘spiller ‘ for containers.

Carex are among the most ‘bulletproof,’ yet also attractive and low maintenance plants in my garden.  Give them a try!

Sally Hemsen 

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