Here we are in the last week of August, many of us and our children are getting ready to go back to school. The garden often is neglect now because we are busy with othr things occupying our time. late summer is a time of changing palettes in the garden, from the spring and early summer colors to the richer and often nuanced tones. One plant which is ever changing in color is one of the stars of the garden right now,that plant is the known ‘Autumn Joy’ Sedum(Sedum x‘Autumn Joy‘).
‘Autumn Joy’ Sedum is one of the more common plants you will see in gardens because it is very useful and easily propagated. It is a cross of two closely related species; telephium from Europe and spectabile (which supplied the pollen) which originates in China and Korea. These two species and several other similar more woody type, large leaved Sedums are now reclassified as the species Hylotelephium.
The meeting of telephium and spectabile occured at Georg Arrends(1863-1952) nursery at Wuppertal Germany near Cologne. Arrends was one of the formost perennial plant breeders of all time. He introduced many new improved Bergenias, Asters, Campanulas and especially Astilbes. Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ was originally called ‘Herbstfreude’ and it can be argued it is probably Arrends most popular and well known introduction of all. It was likely to have been presented to the garden trade in the late 1940s or early 1950s. It is hard to find a public garden which does not include these plants and from there many home gardens grow it as well.
The cross of telephium and spectabile into Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ brought the best of the parents together. It improved the flower color by intensifying it, it also improved the overall flower head which is now massive. The othe improvement was in making the stems more strong and less likely to flop. These are all characteristics which endear this plant to many professional gardeners who love it for its long season of bloom and overall beauty throughout the year. The color palette and texture of the plant is also easily incorporated into many garden designs.
Many of the reasons Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ is used so much is its incredible versatility in where it can be planted and how it is used in the garden. This plant takes any kind of soil but prefers leaner, light sandy soil. Give it slightly less than an average amount of water, this will keep the stems more firm and the plant more compact.. The one thing they do not like is being in excessively wet soil for a long time as this causes rot. Full sun is the best although it tolerates light shade especially in very dry, hot climates. If the flower heads start getting smaller it is probably is time to divide the plant and this can be done at any time of the year easily, dig it up and pull it apart.If you want to keep the blooms divide in the spring or fall. Cuttings are also very easy to take and root.
‘Autumn Joy’ Sedum can be used for late summer color in sunny borders, perennial borders, as specimens or accents and for mass plantings. It also works very well in seasonal containers for patio or other places for a long lasting show of color. Sedums naturally look good with grasses, Rudbeckias, Asters and other later season plants. The flowers blend in nicely and the leaves have a cooling effect in the garden. As the flowers age their color deepens. Often these plants are left standing in the garden in the winter as the spent flowers stand up well to rains and even snow and the rustic shade of the spent plant is seen as attractive.
‘Autumn Joy’ Sedum grows in zones 3 through 10 (-40c and f). This is a compact plant growing no more than 60cm(2ft.) high and by the same wide. These are fairly long lived plants and will give you pleasure many years. They make good cut flowers and are long lasting, they also are excellent in dried arrangements. They are a good source of honey for butterflies and bees late in the year.
More Joyous Links for Autumn:
How to grow this plant: http://www.perennials.com/seeplant.html?item=1.485.340
From Dave’s Garden many people give their opions on growing this plant: http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/51498/
A thorough article on the species Hylotelephium: http://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/view/2619/
Check out my post relating to Georg Arrends and Astilbes: http://namethatplant.wordpress.com/2009/07/06/my-fine-feathered-friends-are-atilbes/
Hope to see you here again soon….