This column is being reproduced with the permission of Steve Smith, The Whistling Gardener, and owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville.
When it comes to plants that are sun tolerant, drought resistant, and pretty much maintenance free, nothing can compare to sedums. They are a group of plants that fit nicely into rockeries, spill over retaining walls, blended into sunny mixed borders, and are great just about anywhere you want a carefree plant.
They come in a wide range of colors from green to yellow to blue or red and have flowers that can vary from pure white to shades of pink or red and even yellow. Some are evergreen and change colors in the winter, while many others are deciduous and melt away in the winter only to return the following spring twice as large.
You can use the low-growing forms as ground covers or the medium to high varieties as summer bloomers in your perennial garden. There are even sedums that will grow in the shade. To put it succinctly, there is no garden that cannot accommodate a sedum.
One of the first sedums I came in contact with when I moved to the northwest way back in 1989 was a variety call “Autumn Joy.” This is a wonderful fall bloomer that reaches about 18 to 24 inches tall with pink flowers that will literally be covered with honeybees in late August and early September.
There are many variations of this specific variety, some with variegated foliage and more compact growth habits, but one of my favorites is “Thundercloud” with its deeply lobed foliage and starry light pink flowers in summer. It is sure to catch your eye in the garden center!
Another trooper is a low growing, evergreen variety called “Angelina,” which sports golden-yellow foliage all summer that turns a rich orange/copper color in the winter. It can look rangy in a four-inch pot in the garden center, but once planted it will fill in nicely. It also makes a nice spiller in a winter container.
We have an entire section in the nursery dedicated to sedums with way too many varieties to discuss in this short column, but I would be remiss not to mention the new introductions under the marketing moniker of “Sunsparklers.”
Here is a description for “Dazzleberry” from one of our suppliers, Monrovia Nursery: “This brilliant new sedum lives up to its name, blooming earlier than most, with huge, brilliant raspberry colored flower clusters that are up to nine-inches in diameter! Disease resistant foliage retains its fantastic smoky blue-grey color from spring through fall. Spreads to form colorful clumps. Evergreen in mild winter regions.”
“Plum Dazzled” is another introduction that begins in spring with plum-colored foliage that forms a colorful groundcover mound only 8" tall and 18" wide. Giant 6” to 8" raspberry-colored flowerheads appear in late summer and are visible from over 200 feet away!
And “Dream Dazzler” is yet another variation that carpets the garden with smoky purple leaves edged with blazing hot pink. In spring, colorful tri-colored leaves of pink, white and purple emerge. Its vibrant foliage forms a dense mat of intense color.
In addition to these “Sunsparkler” sedums, there is also a new introduction with a similar growth habit called “Atlantis.” This variety has striking variegated foliage of green and yellow that will stand out nicely in any garden.
Finally, after perusing our sedum department this week, I came across a variety called “Jose Aubergine” which really caught my eye. According to our supplier, Skagit Gardens, “Jose has masses of deep dusky pink flowers in umbrella-shaped heads atop rich, dark purple, fleshy stems and leaves. It is excellent for patio containers, beds, and borders.”
You simply can’t go wrong with sedums and I highly encourage you to incorporate some of the many varieties into your garden this spring season. You won’t be sorry you did.
Please stay safe and keep on gardening.
Steve Smith is the owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville, WA, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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