In the dead of winter, and in the throes of summer, you can tie a garden together with evergreen grasses by planting in clumps, defining with edging, or covering the ground. Liriope (Liriope muscari), left, is one of those grasses that is seemingly everywhere. Sometimes called lilyturf, it is hardy and hardly needs any care. Variegated forms are common.
An easy native substitute is any one of a number of Carex or sedge grasses with wider leaves. A sedge like the blue wood sedge (Carex flaccosperma), right, is a nice replacement – it has the presence and weight of variegated liriope, adds blue color and works well in plantings, as edging and as groundcover. It can be used in all of the same ways as liriope in partly sunny to shady locations. One note, liriopes have a lavender flower. Carex have very insignificant flowers.
Another blue carex is ‘bunny blue hobb ®’ sedge (Carex laxiculmis). This one is fairly easy to find in nurseries in our area. A third wide leaved carex that makes a great substitute for liriope is plantain leaf sedge (Carex plantaginea,) also called seersucker sedge. These two are seen below in photos from the Mt. Cuba Center.
With the increasing popularity of native plants, many native carex are now available. There are thin and thick leaved, greens and blues available.
For more information:
A list of native carex is here. This list is from Northcreek Nurseries, a wholesaler, whose website is a treasure trove of native plant information. Please scroll down to the fourth entry, creek sedge, for the start of the list.
For more information about ‘bunny blue hobb®’ sedge, click here.
For more information about plantain leaf sedge, click here.