I have come to love sedums for the element of surprise they add to the autumn garden.
As the days shorten and the nights grow colder, a sedum's color changes with the advancing season. I delight to find flower buds, which were cream one sunny afternoon, have taken on a peachy tone a few days later. Yet another day, on my way to the back of the garden, I'll discover a pretty pink sedum has deepen into a fiery shade of magenta almost overnight.
Industrious bumble bees seem to tap dance on top of the parachute-shaped flower heads. Wasps love them too, but butterflies seem to prefer the small white flowers of the Joe Pye Weed in another part of the garden.
Frost always seem to strike just as the flowers become their most vibrant. In October, they continue to stand tall amongst the storm of falling leaves, their color having morphed yet again into a mellow reddish brown.
Even in the dead of winter sedums seem to have a melancholy beauty.
If you look close, you see that each plant lights hundreds of miniature firecrackers each fall.
Sedum spectabile 'Neon': This Sedum has light green foliage and magenta-pink flowers. Full sun. Height: 45-60 cm (18-23 inches) Spread: 45-60 cm (18-23 inches). USDA Zones: 2-9.
Some of my old favourites include Sedum 'Autumn Joy', Sedum 'Autumn Fire' and Sedum 'Matrona'. Making new plants is easy, so I have them scattered throughout the garden in both sun and part shade.
(To make new plants, pinch back your plants in June about 4-5 inches. This will help prevent tall, heavy flowering varieties from flopping and give you lots of cuttings to create new plants. Strip away all the leaves on the bottom half of each cutting. Plant your sedum in pots, or as I do, directly into garden soil out of direct sunlight. Water them well and keep an eye on them to make sure the soil doesn't dry out while the cuttings are establishing roots. Your sedums should root within a couple of weeks.)
Sedum telephium 'Matrona' is one of the taller sedums in my garden. The reddish stems and pink flowers are a great combination. Full sun. Height: 60 -70 cm ( 23- 28 inches) Spread: 45-60 cm (18-23 inches). USDA Zones: 3-9.
The deepening color of Sedum telephium 'Matrona'.
I find the mature plants and ones that are in part shade flop the most. Again, pinch them back in early June to avoid this problem.
Every summer I try to add a few new plants. Last year I added these two low growing varieties:
Sedum 'Pure Joy' is a keeper because of its neat mounded shape. Sadly I find it isn't as pretty as others once the flowers start to fade. Grow it in poor to average well-drained soil. Full sun. Height: 20-30 cm (10-12 inches) Spread: 45-50 cm (18-20 inches). USDA Zones: 4-9.
Sedum 'Dazzelberry' has really nice purplish-grey foliage. The deep raspberry flowers are amazing, but the flower stems are so fine that I find it flops unattractively. Next year I need to figure out some form of low support for it. Again poor to average well drained soil. Full sun. Height: 15-20 cm (6-8 inches) Spread: 30-45 cm (12-18 inches). USDA Zones: 4-9.
Sedum 'Class Act' is a recent introduction. 'Class Act' has flowers that are such a vivid shade of magenta they immediately grab your attention. Full sun and average, well drained soil. Height: 45-60 cm (18-23 inches), Spread: 45-60 cm ( 18-23 inches). USDA Zones: 4-9.
Sedum 'Class Act' is the deeper raspberry colored sedum.
Sedum 'Lemonjade' has interesting creamy-green colored flowers that take on a peachy tone as they mature. Full sun and average, well drained soil. Height: 40-45 cm (16-18 inches), Spread: 45-70 cm (26-28 inches). USDA Zones: 3-9.
Sedum 'Lemonjade' in front of Sedum 'Matrona'
Sedum telephium 'Munstead Dark Red': This is an older variety that deepens into a dark rose color. It can be floppy in moist, rich soil. Height: 45-60 cm (18-23 inches) Spread: 45-60 cm (18-23 inches). USDA Zones: 3-9.
Autumn is all about changing leaf colors, so it is better to think of companion planting in terms of complimentary foliage rather than flowers. Sedums look great at the feet of tall ornamental grasses, as well as alongside plants like hosta and heuchera.
Sedum 'Autumn Charm' sits above a peach colored heuchera and next to a hosta with a golden leaf.
Sedum 'Autumn Charm' has this terrific variegated foliage and salmon colored flowers. Full sun and average garden soil. Height: 35-40 cm (14-16 inches), Spread: 45-60 cm (18-23 inches). USDA Zones: 3-9.
Sedum 'Autumn Charm' peeking in on the left. 'Autumn Fire' on the right with
'Class Act' in the background.
I end with one of my favourite images. It's a nice reminder that, while the gardening season is coming to close, there is still magic yet to be found.
I know I promised the final entry in the landscape cloth series of posts, but sometimes
things don't go to plan. I'll have Part 3 up shortly.
Have yourself a great weekend!