Gatekeeper on Gardeners Garters
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Gardener's Garters - Phalaris Arundinacea
Family - Poaceae
Also known as - Reed Canary Grass, Ribbon Grass, Lady's laces
In its native form Phalaris Arundinacea is a tall, perennial grass that can form large single species stands in wet areas, with a wide distribution in Europe, Asia, northern Africa and North America. Stems can reach 2.5M (8ft) in height, leaf blades are blue-green drying to a straw like colour. Flowers are borne on the stem high above the leaves and are pinkish in full bloom. When grown, although drought-tolerant, it likes abundant water and can even be grown as an aquatic plant. The plant has been grown for fibrous pulp in the paper making industry and is also planted as a hay crop or forage.
A number of cultivars of - P. Arundinacea have been selected for use as ornamental plants, including variegated cultivars sometimes called ribbon grass. Gardener's Garters in Brickfields Park is one of these variegated forms and so must be a garden escapee. A striking grass with distinctive parallel variegation of cream and white producing a grass like seed head in summer. Grows to about 1M in height (3ft 3in), flowering (rarely) June to July producing tiny white-pink flowers. Spreads by seed and rhizomatous growth and can become quite invasive, prefers damp conditions. Many subspecies are found in garden catalogs, the photo (at right) showing a Gatekeeper butterfly on Gardener's Garters is believed to be the commercial variety "Picta". As the photo subject was the butterfly the Gardener's Garters is somewhat out of focus but gives an indication of the plant. - P. Arundinacea is native to Europe, North America and an introduced species elsewhere, apparently the popular variety "Picta" has been cultivated since the Victorian era.
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