Louis Raymond experiments in his own gardens like

a mad scientist, searching out plants that most people have

never seen before & figuring out how to make them perform.- The Boston Globe

…Louis Raymond ensures that trees can grow in Brooklyn…

or just about any other place where concrete consumes

the dirt and skyscrapers shield the sunshine.- USA Today

 
 

NEW Trips to Take!

Myrtle's easy when the conditions are right.

 
 
 
 

NEW Plants to Try!

Louis tries to capture the exact words to describe the fleeting but deep pleasures to be found in these Summer-into-Autumn incredibles.

 
 
 
 

New Gardening to Do!

Allergic to bees? You can still have an exciting garden, full of flowers and color and wildlife.

 
 
 
 

Plant Profiles

Variegated Greater Pond Sedge

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This remarkable grass is one of any water garden's Spring high notes.  Variegated Greater Sedge leafs out, and up, early in Spring, and by Memorial Day it's full height and already in bloom. 

 

The Spring foliage is unique: Pale green to pure white, with just the occasional thin green strip. And then, the flowers: darkest chocolate, a chic and showy contrast with the foliage. 

 

carex-riparia-variegata-overall-640

 

The foliage calms down to green by Summer, though. 

 

Before that boring eventuality, I'm going to cut the clump back to below the water line.  (Any excuse to strap on the waders and work on the pond plants.)  Maybe the cut-back will cause this second crop of foliage to be white, too.  Or maybe the bright Spring color is a matter of the cooler temperatures more than the youth of the foliage.  I'll let you know.

 

Either way, the cut-back will also prevent self-seeding.  This probably isn't a problem for me, with my rubber-lined pond, but if you plant this sedge in an earth-bottom pond or streamside, you'll want to control its self-seeding.

 

 

Here's how to grow this aquatic Spring beauty:

 

Latin Name

Carex riparia 'Variegata'

Common Name

Variegated Greater Pond Sedge

Family

Cyperaceae, the Cyperus family.

What kind of plant is it?

Herbaceous aquatic grass.

Hardiness

Zones 4 - 9

Habit

Colony-forming vigorous narrow-leaved grass.

Rate of Growth

Fast.

Size in ten years

If growing in open ground instead of a container, can spread very widely, and even become dominant in its location.  If growing with maximum available water—i.e., in a swamp or in a container in a pond—can grow to four feet tall.

Texture

Open and exciting, with the near-white Spring leaves a stark contrast to both the darker water from which they emerge, and the dark-brown Spring blooms.

Grown for

the unique Spring foliage—solid creamy green to white, with just one or two very thin green stripes—that, yes, quiets down to green by Summer.

 

its Spring flowering: brown tassels that could hardly be a more sophisticated contrast to the bright foliage.

 

its self-reliant nature.  Can naturalize in an earth-bottom pond.

Flowering season

Mid Spring: Late May in Rhode Island.  The showy male flowers are in a narrow brown-black tassel at the very tip of the stem; the wider, brown-green, and less showy female flowers are right below.   

Culture

This very hardy moisture-lover is happiest in wet, boggy, or even open fresh water to 18" deep.  Full sun. 

How to handle it

Cut back in early Spring (to just below the water line if growing in open water) before new growth starts.

 

Grow in a container if you don't want it to spread.  If growing in an earth-bottom site, cut back again after the foliage has faded towards green, by which time seed-heads will be mature and you can therefore control self-seeding.  (This might also stimulate a second crop of white foliage; I'm doing the experiment myself this Spring.)

 

Divide container colonies in early Spring every few years to renew them, just as you would divide Siberian iris:  Toss the old and sparsely-growing center of the colony, and replant only the lively pieces at the perimeter.

Downsides

Its vigor and wide-ranging aspirations mean that it can dominate its earth-bottomed locale the same way cat-tails or phragmites can.  Probably best, then, if grown in a container, and in a lined pond.   

Variants

The species has the same showy Spring flowers, but with just the plain-green foliage.

Availability

On-line.

Propagation

Division in early Spring

Native habitat

Europe.

 
 
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