Meet the Drought-Beater – 'Everillo' Carex
This is the time of year when even seasoned gardeners give up. Week after week of scorching temperatures and no rain turn their beloved perennials into biscuit-brown lumps barely clinging to life. However, one plant in my garden survived the summer of flames none the worse for wear. ‘Everillo' carex.
Native to Japan, ‘Everillo' carex (Carex oshimensis EverColor ‘Everillo') looks like an ornamental grass, but is really a sedge. It forms a cascading mound of long, narrow leaves from 12 to 18 inches wide and tall. Brilliant chartreuse foliage shines the year-round.
I took the photo above a few days ago in a garden designed by my good friend, Charlotte landscape architect Jay Sifford. Jay uses ‘Everillo' in nearly all of his designs and I give him a hard time for it. However, the plant is so useful and easy-to-grow, it's easy to see why he loves it. Thriving in part sun to shade, it lights up the garden wherever it's planted. Jay often plants masses of it along pathways in shady gardens to create the illusion of beams of sunlight piercing the tree leaves above. It looks great combined with coarser leafed plants like holly or hosta or those with purple, reddish, bluish, or dark green leaves. It's also an excellent choice for pots and window boxes.
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After poking fun at Jay's addiction to ‘Everillo,' I hypocritically planted a row if it along a stone path in front of my house in part sun. I suspected it would burn up. It did not. The one-gallon plants I set in the ground in March have doubled in size with very little watering. They're easily the showiest plants in the garden right now. No crispy leaves, no wilting, no complaints.
‘Everillo' carex is a member of our Southern Living Plant Collection and available at many garden centers. If you plant it now, do remember that we are still in a withering drought in many places, so keep it watered until frost or November rains, whichever comes first. Once it's established, though, you'll find it needs very little care. Rabbits might munch on it (occasionally, my cats do as well), but it quickly grows back. It's adapted to USDA Zones 5 to 9.