Sunday, January 4, 2009

A Worthy Perennial - Rodgersia (Rodger's Flower)

It's always a pleasant surprise to come to a realization, after years in the horticulture industry, that "Hey, this plant is better than I thought." Or, in other words, discovering that a plant that has been around for a while (i.e. is not "new"), but is generally underused and/or under-appreciated.

Such, I've found, is the case with Rodgersia (Rodger's Flower), a genus of about five species from China and Japan, named after U.S. navy commander Admiral John Rodgers. I had always considered this plant to be relegated to consistently moist, rich soil and therefore intolerant of "normal" garden conditions. However, after several years (including most summers consisting of extended periods of relative drought) in my garden, I'm beginning to believe otherwise. It has performed consistently and with a subtle beauty -- it is what most plants-people would describe as typically "ornamental" or "architectural".

Here's a couple of photographs of a stand of what I believe to be R. pinnata 'Superba', although there is certainly some confusion amongst the taxonimists, likely due to the plants' propensity to hybridize.

Here it is again from a different angle, and a few weeks later in the season, providing a pleasant backdrop to Siberian Iris and a hardy Geranium.

There's many forms, including several new ones that may be of interest, but even the older forms, as above, are of significant use in the garden.

Here's to dirt under your nails.


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