Gardening Magazine

Carex Tenuiculmis 'Cappuccino'

By John Markowski @jmarkowski0
My favorite way to plant shop is to forgo any sort of planning and just buy what I like. I prefer to "act now and think later".
Who cares if there isn't room for these plants (there is always room)?
Who cares if they may be pushing the zone that they survive in (I'll take extra care of them, I swear)?
Who cares if they kind of look like they're dead at all times (Just another piece of the proverbial garden puzzle)?
So there I was slumming it at Home Depot (I kid) a few years ago trying to ignore the hundreds of impatiens and begonias, hoping I could find some semi-unique plant that I could waste my money on.
And like an oasis in the desert, I spotted a bunch of oddly colored grasses hidden in a corner amongst empty containers and dying plants.
Upon closer inspection, the grasses were kind of cool in an offbeat way and I sort of dug their color. Turns out they were Carex (sedge) 'Cappuccino' (awesome name):                  
Carex tenuiculmis 'Cappuccino'
Without giving it much thought or reading the plant labels, I threw five in my cart and hurried to the check-out booth before I could second guess my purchase.
When I got home, I did a little internet research and while there wasn't a ton of info out there, I did discover:
  • Survives in zones 6 (or 7 on some sites) to zone 9
  • Prefers full sun to partial shade 
  • Gets to be about 18" tall and 24" wide
  • Requires moist soil (like most sedge)

At the time, I thought, OK, they may not survive the winter here in zone 6B but I gave it a shot. They held up well for a year in a protected spot with full sun but I didn't like how they looked in mass. So I moved them to a bed along my driveway where I strategically placed them hoping to create rhythm and repetition (who do I think I am?).
They are still there to this day:
Carex tenuiculmis 'Cappuccino'
Carex tenuiculmis 'Cappuccino'
Carex tenuiculmis 'Cappuccino'
I love this "grass" (technically I don't think it is a true grass) and its color, texture and mounding shape. And they provide that sought after "year round interest".
  The color is awesome first emerging in spring after being cut down nearly to the ground: Carex tenuiculmis 'Cappuccino'
I have some Ajuga 'Chocolate Chip' in front of them and the color scheme is pretty cool when the ajuga are in bloom:
Carex tenuiculmis 'Cappuccino'
As the spring turns to summer, the carex turn in to good looking wispy mounds of awesomeness:
Carex tenuiculmis 'Cappuccino'
When the sun hits them just right, you can see their reddish copper color emerge:
Carex tenuiculmis 'Cappuccino'
As the cold weather and frost hits in the fall/winter, they keep their form and still look phenomenal:
Carex tenuiculmis 'Cappuccino'
Carex tenuiculmis 'Cappuccino'
And that my friends is the story of how an obsessive and neurotic gardener created a lifetime of love with a little known plant who was toiling in obscurity at a big box store.  
So remember, your lesson for today is to "just buy what you like" and figure it all out later.
Life's to short to be planning all the time.

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