Succulents-The Sedums

august-28-2008-002-2After missing the first several Plant Of  The Month selections made by the kids at Gardening Gone Wild, when this month’s choice was *Succulents* I had to join in no matter what was in the queue for post material. While several succulents are growing happily here, it is the sedums that are the workhorses of the path borders. One would be hard pressed to find a better filler along the gravel walkways. Number one in the hearts of humans and insects alike is Sedum ‘Matrona’. This sedum appeared in Germany in Ewald Hugin’s garden.  It was introduced to the trade in 1991.  It is a cross between Sedum ‘Atropurpureum’ x S. ‘Autumn Joy’. The word matrone in German means a lady of well rounded form. Height 2-3′. Space 24″ apart. Grows best in full sun. Blooms Aug-Sept. Perennial in Zones 4-10. Butterflies and bees alike love it, just ask the skippers and bumble shown above.december-13-2008-frost-049-2One of the best attributes of Matrona is the erect standing stalks, even well into the cold season they give that elusive winter interest.september-7-2008-019-2Purple stems and darker purple flowers come from the S. Atropurpureum parent, with the stiff upright form of Autumn Joy, this is a plant that will complement all its neighbors. In the bed we call the hedge path, it joins the Japanese blood grass at the feet of the spring blooming deciduous azaleas that front the Chamaecyparis Gold Mops hedge to carry the color through summer into fall.october-15-2008-019-2Shown above with the sheffies in early November.december-13-2008-frost-017-2Same scene in mid December.september-7-2008-020-2Before there was Matrona, there was S. ‘Autumn Joy’. When I very first started gardening at my very first house that we owned not rented, in central Pennsylvania, a neighbor let me dig a clump of this sedum. Neither of us knew what it was, or anything about it except it was very hardy and looked good all through the year. Learning more about gardening from books on the subject, this sedum was on every list of must have perennials. We have used it as a filler for it can be divided into many pieces and will even grow roots from a piece of the stem stuck into the ground. It was planted when we first bought this house and the kids were holding many soccer parties here. Even stepped on and flowers broken off, it would regrow happily. When we came to live here and did the big remodel, it was split into pieces to line the daylily hill. That now seems boring to me and other plants are replacing that row planting, but Autumn Joy will remain on that hill more in a drift than a row. The things we learn as we age.november-3-2008-034-2The fall colors of Autumn Joy add to the overall landscape. Upper left corner shows fothergilla, dogwoods in the background.december-13-2008-frost-021-2The winter form is pleasing as well. Note Matrona on the left of the path, Autumn Joy on the right.june-8-2007-024-3Added a couple of years ago, as a gift from offspring Semi is S.’Black Jack’. So far this has not been as rewarding as the two aforementioned sedums, even though this photo shows what Jack is capable of. His stems are not stiff, he is a bit lax and loses much of that dark leaf color as summer progresses. He seemed a perfect addition to the black garden, but so far is a disappointment.
As with all the photos, you may click on those below to enlarge.november-3-2008-051-2may-6-2008-003-2Sedum spectabile ‘October Daphne’ is planted in a concrete shell fountain base with foxglove volunteers, thyme and cerastium.  It blooms in September and looks good spring through frost.

december-13-2008-frost-005-2This planter sits next to the stone steps that are a favorite spot here.

december-13-2008-frost-026-2october-19-2008-012-2The rusted out metal wheelbarrow planter that was found on the property is planted with assorted small sedums, blood grass and seems to attract wayward seeds of salvias and talinum, among other things.  Shown left and above with and without frost.

The safety and height of the wheelbarrow provide a good location to display the smaller sedums that are planted there. Red dragon and pine leaf sedums live in harmony, but are watched closely by the gardener for signs of aggression towards new and more delicate additions.
Also growing in the Fairegarden are Angelina, Vera Jameson, Purple Emperor, Morning Light, Kamschaticum,  Aureovariegata, Autropurpureum, S. acre and many low growing unknowns. No garden would be complete without the aesthetic enhancement of some superb succulent sedums.



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23 Responses to Succulents-The Sedums

  1. linda says:

    Matrona is definitely one of my favorite sedums too Frances. I agree – no garden’s complete without sedums!

    Hi Linda, thanks and welcome back, we missed you! Gotta love those sedums. 🙂

  2. layanee says:

    You have captured magic moments with the sedums in the snow. I almost love them best when they are dormant and holding a shawl of snow.

    Hi Layanee, thanks. No snow for us yet, that is extremely heavy frost, something we have been getting a lot of lately. I agree that they are quite handsome with the frosty covering. We rarely see snow that would cover anything, but this year has already been weird and record setting, so who know? 🙂

  3. Gail says:

    Frances, I have completely fallen for sedums all over again with this post! They are delightful plants and seem to work in most garden settings. I am keeping my fingers crossed that Matrona will survive the winter rains in the Heuchera Autumn Bride bed. Speaking of weather! I think we have a layer of ice outside now…did you get that, too? gail

    Good morning Gail, the sedums should do well in your space. We have grown them in every situation here and in other gardens with never a problem of any kind. That cold snap did not make it here, it is nearly fifty degrees, but wet. I hope to go outside and dig some more plants for Semi’s hill. It will be muddy though. Sedums can be spread on the hill, she has tons of Autumn Joy and some Matrona too. It was planted as a filler just to help keep the weeds down and we spread it ruthlessly so there is much raw material to forge a new design for her slope. I am so excited about your new space carved out from the wildness in the way back!

  4. Dave says:

    You have a good variety of sedums! The ‘Autumn Joy’ does very well for us and I really like the Matrona you have. The stem color makes them interesting.

    Hi Dave, thanks, I think there are more, but I don’t know the names. I usually pick them up if a new leaf form shows up. They are cheap in the tiny pots but grow quickly and are easily spread. I think Matrona is prettier than Autumn Joy but not as dense a habit, although the AJs are much older plants. I have been dividing the Matronas for the last several years so much that they haven’t had a chance to mature. Good winter interest with those.

  5. gittan says:

    I have to say that I have a strange relation to these Sedums. In my childhood I thought that they were the ugliest plants in my mothers garden and I tried to destoy them (shame on me) But after my mother died I bought one tiny plant Sedum telephium at the fall sale. It didn’t cost even one dollar. I planted it becourse it did remind me of my mum. Next spring I cut it into three plants and after a couple of years the garden were full of Sedums. We had three rows in the garden this spring, but it was kind of borring. Now I’ve been digging up two of the rows and the last one is hangin loose as well. When the garden wall is finished this spring, I’m going to plant these Sedums in a cluster there instead – becurse I really must have Sedums in the garden. ‘October Daphne’ I’ve had in a pot on the stairway for several years. There we can talk about a survivor! I haven’t been doing anything to help keping that poor plant alive, no new soil, no fertilizer, almost no water, it’s all left to survive by it self in a very small pot – and it does! Every spring it comes back and every fall it makes me happy by flowering. Purhaps it’s time for me to give something back, atleast some new soil in the pot… I also have the perfect neighbour to the Sedum telephium – Astrantia major ‘Rubra’. They look terrific together! gittan

    Hi Gittan, my goodness, thank you so much for sharing that sedum story. Having lost my own mother nearly thirty years ago, I know how important keep certain things close to us that remind us of a mother’s love is so comforting. Your sedums deserve some special treatments after all they have given you. Thanks so much for the astrantia tip, I have never grown that plant but always admire them in the catalogs.

  6. Racquel says:

    I have many sedums in my garden and I couldn’t imagine gardening without them. Such hardy & reliable perennials. 🙂 Great post today Frances!

    Hi Racquel, thanks, I feel the same way. I didn’t realize how many I had either, that is not all of them, only the ones I know the names, until I started listing them. I had to go back and keep adding more as I thought about it. Loved your lights slide show!

  7. Darla says:

    I have the Autumn Joy and some small trailing sedum that my neighbor gave me that just fills a pot faster than you can say sedum, it has never bloomed although it is supposed to have yellow flowers? Then I had a blue spruce sedum that I think I overwatered. Great post and informative as well. Thanks.

    Hi Darla, thanks to you for visiting. Maybe your sedum in the pot needs more sun? Glad you enjoyed the post and also glad you are feeling better. 🙂

  8. gittan says:

    Hi Frances, if you want to I can send you some seeds for the Astrantia. They grow very easely. Just mail me if you interested/ gittan

    Hi Gittan, that is just so sweet of you! I am interested and will send you an email right away! Thanks so much. 🙂

  9. Randy says:

    There seems to be no end to the selection of pants you have. Is there anything you’ve been wanting that you haven’t been able to find?

    Hi Randy, thanks, I do have a diverse group here. 🙂 And I am the kind of person that when I decide that I want something, I search high and low until I find it. It makes it hard for the Financier to buy me a gift! HA I already have everything I could ever want or need now anyway, but you know how it is with plants, you didn’t know you needed it until you read that article or see it in that nursery! 🙂

  10. ourfriendben says:

    Quite right, Frances, sedums are essential, especially if you love cacti and succulents of all types and stripes. (My first venture into gardening was with a cactus dish in sixth grade, and I have never abandoned my first love.) Sedums and sempervivums are the only succulents I can grow outdoors year-round, and you bet they’re must-haves here! Thanks for sharing your fantastic assortment.

    Hi OFB, thanks for stopping by. Even in the cold climes of PA the sedums did well, as did the happy hens and chicks. Cactus, more of a problem, except indoors. 🙂

  11. tina says:

    I agree-all gardens need sedums. Thanks for my Matrona. It is doing well in the front foundation. Thanks for the info on it. I love the German connection.

    Hi Tina, thanks for dropping by. I am so glad your Matrona is doing well, it is one tough cookie! I liked learning how it originated too.

  12. Frances,

    Your sedums are beautiful! Your placement and combinations are just perfect (as always).

    I looked for Matrona this summer, but it was so popular — gone. I got a few others like ‘Purple Emperor’ for the cottage garden. Yes, deer eat sedums that bloom as I found out when I had ‘Autumn Joy’ outside the fence. Dang deer.


    Hi Cameron, thanks. The soldiers in a row method is something I used to always do and am trying to get away from, that will happen next year. I like purple emperor, but it gets ratty looking quickly for some reason. I think some bug might eat it, the leaves get all mottled, same thing with black jack, they are probably from the same gene pool. Matrona sometimes gets like that, but is all around better. And yes to dang deer. 🙂

  13. As a younger gardener I thought sedums were, just not cool enough for me. I have since realized that a was a dork and now adore them. They are not fussy, work hard, and are quite gorgeous in their unique way. It is amazing what wisdom comes with age! LOVE your post, your variety of seums is awesome! Kim

    Hi Kim, thanks. Sedums have always been a fave here, but we have been snooty about other plants that we now see as important, such as daylilies, and even zinnias. Just a mistake in attitude that is easily rectified! 🙂

  14. Barbara says:

    Frances – Matrona is aces for us here – great to combine with other plants and really good stocks. You’d giggle, I was impressed with your Black Jack – you should see how nasty some of those I’ve seen growing here. Three whole stocks – have rarely seen it with two. As always wonderful shots!

    Hi Barbara, thanks, great to hear about Matrona, and not at all surprised about Black Jack. He is a dud, I don’t know how he managed to look good for that millisecond when that photo was taken last June. I am not even sure if that is from my garden or my daughter Semi’s. It has to be mine with those silly violets everywhere, but my dirt is darker than that, I thought. I honestly cannot tell, but I did take the photo and do have the plant, it looks terrible most of the time. I am looking for one of the other dark sedums as a replacement. Maybe Lynda Windsor, do you know that one?

  15. joey says:

    Excellent post, Frances! I’m most impressed with your sedum collection, especially intrigued by the stunning purple stems and darker purple flowers of S. Atropurpureum and also Black Jack … will hunt for these beauties in the spring where they will have a good home and happy neighbors. I certainly enjoyed photographing my bees snuggling in my sedum … an autumn joy!

    Hi Joey, thanks, there are more, I just don’t know the names, HA. Don’t get Black Jack, that photo is misleading, he doesn’t maintain that foliage color into the summer. Matrona is the best by far of the taller sedums, even though it is not as dark as some others. The bees and skippers made taking their portrait easy, they would not leave the flowers even if I shook them accidentally.

  16. Jean says:

    I love the way you’ve used the sedums throughout your garden Frances. And I still can’t get over how nice your larger photos look. They give quite a presence!

    Hi Jean, not Jan, HA, thanks. I used the sedums because they were so easily divided, one plant became many in a very short time. But now I love what they add to the beds, they just shouldn’t be in soldier straight rows. I am working on that. 🙂

  17. Benjamin says:

    I know everyone is into sedums now and all, but I sure do love them. The groundcovers are my most recent fetish, but after our first “big” snow of 2″ yesterday, I remember why I like the taller guys so much–they add so much character to the winter garden (speaking of which, the garden looks SOOO much better this year than last now that I added shrubs).

    Hi Benjamin, me too. They are a plant that can withstand the trends of being *in* or *out*, they are just so hard working and will grow in such a diversity of zones too. The tall ones can stand up to even heavy snows, ours were just covered in ice, but still looked pretty with that icing. Your garden will look better every year as the trees and shrubs grow too, congrats on that!

  18. cheryl says:

    I do enjoy them with a touch of frost this time of year. However the most fun is plucking a few leaves in Spring and sticking them in the ground and watching them grow. Ahhh, gardening can be easy 😀

    Hi Cheryl, thanks for visiting. There is nothing like the feeling of satisfaction we get from making new plants for free, and these are about the easiest there are to do that, so fun!

  19. Rose says:

    This is a plant I’ve learned more about in only the last year. “Autumn Joy” was the sedum I heard everyone talking about a few years ago, so I planted that. As I learn more about all the different varieties of sedum, my wish list is growing:) The “Matrona” and the “October Daphne” are beauties indeed!

    Hi Rose, thanks and welcome back from your daughter’s, we missed you. Matrona is the equal of Autumn Joy in my book, other new ones with the darker coloration have not been as outstanding, with flopping being one of the main complaints. There are plenty of ground hugger sedums, what is needed is more upright ones to catch the snow and ice for winter beauty. October Daphne is not upright, but the leaf form and coloration are a work of art, it does die completely back in winter, but for the first time I have not cut it back and find it very attractive as well.

  20. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Frances, I always like to see the way you display your huge collections of flowers. They never disappoint.

    Hi Lisa, thanks, what a sweet thing to say!

  21. Marnie says:

    I came to appreciate the sedums late in life. Now I love every one of them. Not as spectacular as phlox or foxglove, still they are perfect in the late summer garden. Adding just the right color and texture to accent other plants. This was a great post, Frances.

    Hi Marnie, thanks so much for that high compliment! The sedums are like the backup singers on stage, not the stars but adding so much. They are useful in every situation, I agree,

  22. Philip says:

    I love all the images, but the one that I keep coming back to and looking at is the one with the Fothergilla gardeni on the left and dogwoods in the background. That is a wonderful border as you would get blooms different times of the year and fall color.The drifts of the sedums are stiking. So often this is shown as a specimin plant, but I just love it in the drifts you show here.
    Don’t you just love plants you can divide by just sticking a stem in! So fun.

    Hi Philip, thanks so much. That was a good representation of the top part of the daylily hill. There are daffodil, grape hyacinth and lily bulbs in there to start the show in early spring, magic carpet spiraea for three seasons of colorful foliage, hellebores, tall garden phlox and the sedums. With that ease of propagation, sedums are an inexpensive choice for drifts in even young gardens. Isn’t gardening fun?

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