I promised that I would tell you about some of the interesting things that we saw at Gardenscape in Saskatoon a few weeks back. Among the many fascinating displays was one that I thought was very unusual. It was a display using a variety of sedums in striking new ways.
We’re all familiar with sedums: hens and chicks, burro’s tail, many stonecrops, and my favorite, Autumn Joy. But I don’t think I had full appreciation for them until I saw them planted up at Gardenscape. Forget about giving them a quiet existence in a rock garden. Planted up this way, they were the star attractions! They were in amazing plantings: hens and chicks stacked like James Bond’s martini olives in elegant classical urns; low tufa-style planters with miniature “landscapes” composed of a variety of sedums of different heights and textures; and most intriguing, wall panels in “frames” and planted up entirely of sedums! They were all stunning, and looking at them made me realize how little I know about this lovely family of plants that we often take for granted. Time for some research!
Sedums are often called “stonecrops”, a family of succulents with hundreds of cousins in all sizes. By the term “succulents” we know that their leaves are plump and fleshy because they store water. And because they store water, this adaptable family of plants can grow in areas where the soil is poor and the conditions are dry.
Here’s an interesting factoid: some sedum are used on roofs in Europe! We’ve all seen pictures of roofs planted with grass: a “green” idea that is supposed to keep the house cool in summer and warmer in winter, all while providing all the benefits of living plants to the air. Well, I read that sedum is a great alternative. Imagine, they are fully exposed to the elements at their best and at their worst, and like the song says, if they can make it there, they can make it anywhere! And here’s one more tidbit of cool trivia: the Rolls-Royce factory in England has over 200,000 square feet of roof space covered in sedum!
So let’s review: sedum are drought tolerant, they don’t need good soil, they spread easily, some of their blooms attract butterflies, and many are hardy in our zone. Some are great as groundcovers that double as anchors on slopes, preventing soil erosion. They come in all sizes, perfect for any landscape effect. Why is it that we aren’t giving these great plants the attention that they deserve?
For my part, I always thought that the smaller members of the sedum family were delicate and required special care and attention. I see now that I was mistaken, and have missed out on a great addition to our garden.
The Yorkton and District Horticultural Society will be having their next meeting on Wednesday, May 16. Our special guest will be Don Stein speaking to us about “Photography in the Garden and Nature Settings”. I know that many of us love to take pictures of our garden babies as they grow and bloom. Don will tell us the best way to do this to make the most of our pictures.
Mark down Friday, May 25: that’s the date of our Spring Plant and Bulb Sale at the Parkland Mall. There will be a great variety of prairie-hardy tried and true plants and bulbs and lots of eager gardeners to answer your questions, so we hope to see you there!