Tuesday, November 3, 2009


My fall garden is not much to look at: my annuals are all gone, and most of my perennials peak late spring to mid-summer. The bare bones are tantalizing for me: I mentally fill in every corner with my new projects for next year, or old friends returned. In a larger garden, one can plan the beds so that there is always some kind of flowering or botanical interest occurring at a given time. To do so in a garden my size, I would either need to relinquish my vegetable real estate, or have one specimen for each time of year. So, my garden peaks over a two month period, then the late summer vegetables take over. The one thing of beauty right now, beside the fading grape vines and peony leaves, are my sedum.

There are two types of sedum that I am familiar with, the tall perennial and the creeping ground cover, Sedum spectabile and Sedum spurium respectively. Both are in my garden: the S. spurium, or two-row stonecrop, flourishes in a moist, neglected patch of earth bordering the north side of my porch. The tall sedum, or showy stonecrop, have a lovely mounded habit. A big round specimen anchors the end of one of my beds. The flowers mature just as all my other flowers fade, and I'm told they are a favorite of butterflies and bees. The sedum "Autumn Joy" (incidentally a possible cross between S. spectibile and another species S. telephium) has pink to maroon flowers that my son calls "flower broccoli", an apt description. The foliage is green and fleshy, with real dimension, like a succulent. The greenery is a presence from spring to early winter. Indeed, sedum is most often cited in my gardening books as an "excellent backdrop" to flowering summer plants.

If the offerings at Home Depot and Lowe's are any indication, it must be a popular plant, and no wonder: as long as it is in full sun, it seems to thrive on neglect and average soil. Sometimes I feel a twinge of shame of loving something already popular...it seems cooler to only grow hellebores, or other less mainstream plants. But the sedum is indeed my autumn joy, and it will always have a place in my beds.

1 comment:

  1. I don't think you can ever have too many Sedum - and if you only have room for one, you picked the best!