Sedum ‘Herbstfreude’ is better known as ‘Autumn Joy’ and is one of the stalwarts of the autumn border. It is so well known and so popular that it is frequently passed from gardener to gardener rather than bought. Being strictly accurate I should state that it is more accurately called Hylotelephium rather than sedum.
It is tough and reliable, with fleshy stems and leaves. Because of their succulent nature they can feel cold when touched, giving rise to the common name of ice plants. It grows to about 60cm high, with flat flowerheads making perfect platforms for late-flying butterflies and bees. The stems are usually unbranched which leads to the most common issue with the plant – that the stems splay open when mature, making a ring of flowerheads with a donut centre. This can be reduced if you pinch out the growing tips in May or if you divide the plant every few years to create a clumps of smaller plants. This is best done in spring as the shoots start to grow. The rootstock is woody so you will need a knife to divide it. It is then that you may discover the other big problem with this plant and its kin – vine weevil grubs adore the roots and sometimes a plant will keel over although I usually find this happens with more expensive, small plants!
It is perfect for sunny borders and will grow in any soil, especially dry, gravelly soils, and makes a good path edging, looking especially at home either beside gravel paths or lolling over paving. The pink flowers assume richer shades as they age and the seedheads are attractive in winter when frost has dissolved the foliage. If you want to attract butterflies to the garden and don’t have room for a buddleia, this plant is just perfect for you.
Of course there are more ‘interesting’ big sedums though the very popular ‘Matrona’ is, to my mind, rather dumpy and unattractive.
Sunday Puzzler: October 1
How did you get on with yesterday’s puzzle?
The plants were:
Those should give you: N O S I R N B O
Rearrange those and you get Robinson
Mary Robinson was President from 1990 to 1997. In 2002 she received the Ambassador of Conscience Award from Amnesty International for her work in human rights.
Next week a new theme since I am running out of presidents!