Pacific Connections

On a lovely sunny day in early October, I headed over to the Washington Park Arboretum’s Pacific Connections exhibit.  I was particularly struck by this vivid purple groundcover, helpfully identified by a knowledgeable employee as Acaena inermis ‘Purpurea’.

Acaena inermis 'Purpurea'
Acaena inermis ‘Purpurea’

This rhizomatous spreading groundcover has serrated, tri-folate, glossy purple leaves. It paired beautifully with a Carex and the deep green Phormium behind it. I was delighted to find the UW Botanic Gardens’ Living Plant Collection online which allows you to identify plants by grid section (this is 6-3E).  Unfortunately, the map indicates that this is Carex ‘Frosty Curls’ and my ‘Frosty Curls’ at home is silvery and more fluffy, like a tribble.  This one here is probably just an ordinary orange Carex testacea.  More to come, on this thought-provoking garden soon.

Acaena with Carex
Acaena with Carex

— UPDATE Jan 18, 2014 —
This is what it looks like in winter.  Not so ‘purpurea’ any more, eh?

Acaena inermis in Winter | #eTilth
Acaena inermis ‘Purpurea’ in Winter


  • Scott Weber

    January 18, 2014 at 9:54 am Reply

    I love this plant…but have a hard time keeping it happy. It’s in my parking strips and I can’t tell if it’s languishing because of an issue with light, water…or…more likely, dog pee 🙁

  • eTilth

    January 18, 2014 at 10:13 am Reply

    Hi Scott, I just went back to the Arboretum this week to take a look at it. It is BROWN and SOGGY. However, I suspect that it will bounce back nicely once we dry out and warm up.

  • Scott Weber

    January 18, 2014 at 10:39 am Reply

    Haha…well, that makes me feel a little better, I guess!

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