Geography Lessons in the Garden, Part 2


Geography Lessons in the Garden, Part 2

A good mixed perennial garden can be a trip around the world or, in this case, around a continent. Today we’ll meet a couple of denizens of eastern North America.

Andropogon virginicus “Broom sedge”

If a specific epithet sounds like the name of a state or a country, it’s a pretty safe bet that it’s native there. This one means “from Virginia,” where it was first collected. But “broom sedge” is native to much of eastern America, so it could just as easily have been caroliniana or marilandica.

A. virginicus has slender green blades that take on red and purple shades in fall. Come winter, it goes a step farther, turning bright coppery orange. Flower stems rise to about 4’. Strong, erect and drought-tolerant, it’s useful for reclaiming poor soils. Its sturdy fibrous root system also makes it a natural in rain gardens. It’s happiest in full sun and hardy in Zones 3 – 9.

Fun fact: It’s broom sedge here, but “whiskey grass” in Australia because it was used to cushion liquor bottles shipped from America. Some seeds survived the trip, and that’s how it ended up growing Down Under, mate. Cheers!

Aquilegia canadensis

This cute spring bloomer holds dual citizenship. Yes, you’ll find it in our neighbor to the north, but its native range extends all the way south and west to Missouri.

Like most columbines, A. c. is happiest in bright shade. The farther south, the less it likes the sun. A natural for naturalizing, it favors moist, well-drained soil and will cling to surprisingly steep slopes. The early spring show of bright red flowers with pale yellow corollas is short but glorious. Which pretty much describes the whole plant! Hardy in Zones 3 – 9.

Fun fact: First Nations healers use A. canadensis for ailments of various organs, a poison ivy wash, and as a love potion.

Great plants come from all over. Keep your passport handy for more “Where In The World?” garden journeys from Emerald Coast Growers – the easy choice!