Carex buchananii, the Leatherleaf Sedge, is a medium-sized coppery-russet-coloured sedge native to New Zealand where it grows from the coast up to elevations of 1000m on damp uplands or tussock grassland often in the vicinity of streams, ponds or lake margins. Its long slender leaves are upright and tufted in appearance but arch gracefully to form an attractive dense tussock, the elegant autumn-hued leafblades curling at their tips to a pale flax colour.
It is more grass-like than many sedges and its height and maintanence-free habit together with its dramatic yet soft ornamental goodlooks makes it an ideal plant particularly when combined with other large architectural plants. It is especially eye-catching when backlit by the sun or when the combination of sun and breeze catches and reveals the many different colours of its foliage: bronze, russet, fox-red, cinnamon, pink and blond.
It can be used in mass-plantings or as a single clump to accent large landscape features like rocks or boulders. Sedges enjoy wet feet and it is ideal as a water marginal or as an accent around a water feature. It is also relatively tolerant of dry conditions and if given a water-retentive pocket of soil within the larger framework of a free-draining xeric raised bed it can form a highly effective combination with large architectural succulents like Agaves or Yuccas where it takes on the appearance of a dry desert grass.
This tremendous versatility in planting combinations is one of the many greats strengths of Carex buchananii and what makes it such a useful choice in the UK garden.
|Carex tenax, Carex lucida var. buchanani
|New Zealand: predominently the South Island and in The North Island south of the Manawatu. Coastal to montane grasslands and damp uplands to 1000m
|A moist rich soil but also tolerant of drier conditions. Full sun
|Full hardy, down to at least -15C or lower
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