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Arboretum Spotlight: Clearwater’s charm runs deep

Arboretum Spotlight: Clearwater Idaho fescue is a pretty and unthirsty addition to water-wise landscapes.
Arboretum Spotlight: Clearwater Idaho fescue is a pretty and unthirsty addition to water-wise landscapes.

This is one part in a new weekly series featuring the UC Davis Arboretum’s “40 Plants You (Probably) Have Never Heard of – But Will Love,” 40 can’t-fail, easy-care, low-water plants well adapted to our region but hard to find.

Clearwater Idaho fescue

Festuca idahoensis ‘Clearwater Blue’

Size: 6-inch clumps; 1 to 2 feet tall when in bloom.

Exposure: Mostly sun; prefers afternoon shade in the Central Valley.

Bloom season: Silver flower stems in spring.

Pruning needs: Little or none; remove spent flower stems.

Water needs: Medium- to low-water; once established, water deeply once a week or twice a month.

Snapshot: Add dots of silver blue with lots of movement in your water-wise garden. A native of another relatively dry state, Clearwater Idaho fescue is a fine-textured, dwarf, bunch grass with chalky blue leaves. The well-rounded clumps reach only 6 inches tall. In spring, this fescue produces long silvery flower stems, 1 to 2 feet tall, that float like feathers in the Delta breeze. More dwarf than similar fescues, Clearwater can be used in small spaces for accent and color contrast with green-leaved plants.

▪ For more on “40 Plants,” click on arboretum.ucdavis.edu.

More online

See photo galleries of the arboretum’s Community Favorites, Durable Delights and Arboretum All-Stars at sacbee.com/home-garden

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