Gardening Passion

Garden Clippings for September 12, 2020

The love of plants has got to be the best passion, bar none.  And I think I finally figured out why. Gardens change.

The Maple Leafs don’t change.  Try as they might, they don’t change.  Stamp collecting, embroidery, and video games don’t change.  Reading puts me to sleep.  Pursuit of a white ball across the fairways is fine for some, but not for me.

Plants are fascinating.  They start out in winter mostly as bare sticks.  When spring arrives, they bring forth buds which transform into leaves.  A month or two later, plants miraculously produce amazing flowers, some delicate, some bold, some tiny, all impressive.  Flowers fall and foliage hangs on.  In autumn, gardens change again, with an array of glorious colours marking the end of season.

Each to her own.  Truth be told, I am totally envious of anyone who can hit piano keys to make music, handle a paint brush to make art, and tinker with an engine until it purrs.  I am not much good at anything other than plants, so until my passion wears off, I will stick with plants.

Most folks say that spring is when plants are most exciting.  But the fall-time brings its own array of changes, igniting passion for any serious plant lover.

Take for instance, the lowly Sedum.  Its name fails to conjure up positive vibes, and its nickname, Stonecrop, doesn’t fare much better.

Sedums are a diverse group of hardy succulents that include about 400 varieties that can be divided into two groups: creeping and upright.  The first are ground hugging fleshy plants grown primarily for their foliage colour, ranging from red, purple, yellow and blue.  When and if they flower, the creeping Sedums’ blooms appear in tight clusters covering the foliage.

Creeping Sedums are perfect for the rock garden. Foliage tumbles over and around boulders, giving little opportunity for weeds to invade space.

Sedums are extremely drought tolerant which is why they are the top choice for roof-top gardens.  Most creeping Sedums do well in containers, where they can be ignored and likely will survive winter.

Choose creeping Sedums with care.  ‘Dragon’s Blood’ is a popular choice but may be too fast growing for the timid gardener.  As cooler weather arrives, colour is brilliant red.  ‘John Creech’ with its uniquely textured foliage, grows to only 2 inches, and spreads up to 24 inches.  Colour is vivid pink.  ‘Variegatum’ is mild mannered, with green leaves etched in white.  All Sedums are nicely suited for the edge of a garden or allowed to cascade over the side of a raised bed.

Tall Sedums come to their glory at the end of summer and early fall.  ‘Autumn Joy’ is the oldest and most popular with its spectacular pink blooms sitting above its succulent foliage.

Upright Sedums begin their spring growth soon after snow disappears.  Small, pea sized spheres resembling tiny cabbage plants slowly expand into compact fleshy foliage.  By the time school starts, clusters of flowers cause Sedums to take centre stage.  Long lasting flowers remain colorful, slowly turning tan-coloured as weather becomes cooler.  Foliage and flowers remain attractive even when peaking through a blanket of snow.

Most tall Sedums will grow to 24 inches, with spread nearly equal to height.  ‘Autumn Joy’ is the original Sedum that all others are compared to.  ‘Powder Puff’ is a new introduction with height of 12 inches and rose coloured blooms.  ‘Neon’ is remarkable for its bright pink blooms.  Sedum ‘Matrona’ has red stems and burgundy leaves.