PNW Landscape Plant Guide

brought to you by the plant geeks at Calendula Farm

Elk’s Blue Rush (Juncus patens)

We’ve reached the season when evergreen plants become the stars of the garden. Most other perennial things have lost their leaves but Elk’s Blue Rush soldiers on – through the wet , the cold, the snow, the fake spring in February – it always looks good.

A version of the Pacific NW native ‘California Grey Rush’, it stands 18-24 inches tall and grows into a clump of itself about the same size and shape as a Western Sword Fern. Its leaves are rigid, arrow-straight, narrow, and a striking blue-green. In late summer, the things it calls flowers stud the slender leaves making them look like shish-ka-bob skewers with little crumpled bunches of chocolate brown bloom clusters. They don’t look like flowers in any typical sense, but it makes the whole plant look even more interesting.

Rushes of all sorts groove in wet environments, but once established, they put up just fine with our usual months-long dry summers. This means they are best in an area you know gets especially soppy in winter but dries out in summer. If it stays wet in summer too, it just makes Elk’s Blue Rush even happier.