Garden Dilemmas, Delights & Discoveries, Ask Mary Stone, New Jersey Garden blog

Sedum & Succulent Garden

sedum garden behind spring house

Hello fellow readers, Earlier this summer, I had the privilege of helping the Rimi’s of Washington, NJ, choose a few plants for their already beautiful gardens. What a unique property! There’s a small building, I think a springhouse in its day, charmingly serving as a backdrop off their back patio. Behind it is a gravel area that I thought was a work-in-progress sedum and succulent garden of sorts.

Creeping Jenny, also known as Moneywort (Lysimachia nummularia), the ambitious chartreuse trailing plant with rounded leaves, is the mainstay scrambling about the gravel. As it turns out, there once was a small stone patio on the spot, Jim explained, hence the stones. But my work-in-progress sedum and succulent garden assumption inspired an idea!

sedum garden with gravel and riverstoneJim and Karen’s selections for their sedum garden 

When we met at a garden center to pick up the fill-in flowering shrubs, sedums made their way onto Jim and Karen’s cart. Sedum’ Munstead Dark Red’, a newer variety that looks much like the tried-and-true pink flowering upright ‘Autumn Joy,’ but with irresistible dark raspberry colored flowers, was the first to be added. Both grow twelve to twenty-four inches and bloom from late August to October. When dry through winter, the flowers remain a feature, adorned with frost and snowflakes.

Then there’s Sedum’ Lime Zinger’— a six-inch variety with lime green foliage and reddish edges that forms a stunning compact mat before flowering pink in late summer to mid-fall. Next came Sedum spurium ‘Fuldaglut’ or ‘Fulda Glow’ with bronzy-green leaves that sport a swath of dainty pink flowers in summer that pollinators love. Come fall, the foliage shifts to beautiful burgundy. And ‘Wheels of Wonder Fire’ Ice Plant (Delosperma cooperi), a ‘cactus/succulent’ groundcover per the plant tag, with yellow and orange blooms summer to fall, was also smuggled onto the cart. What’s the difference between sedum and succulents anyway?

Sedums are succulents, as are cacti.

Succulents describe plants with thick fleshy parts (root, stems, or leaves) that store water for dry spells. While cacti are succulents, not all succulents are cacti. Sedums are succulents too that range in height from groundcover to one to two feet tall. They are easy keepers. And most are relatively deer resistant. Sedums must be in well-drained soil, not clay, or they will quickly rot. While most are sun-loving, some can take a bit of shade.

hens and chicks plants in gravelMany other finds ended up on Karen and Jim’s cart.  What’s a sedum garden without a few magical hens and chicks (Sempervivum tectorum). You’re likely familiar with the succulent, which has momma rosettes (hens), and beside it, smaller rosettes (chicks) that spread two feet or more. Their vegetation is often green, blueish, gold, copper, or a combo of colors. Sometimes they bloom a rather silly stalky flower.

What a joy to see the art in their garden

I couldn’t wait to see all their new plants dug into their new home. That day came when I visited to purchase a gift for my colleague and dear friend Marty celebrating a milestone birthday; she’s shy about that begins with the number eight (infinity). “Age is a matter of mindset,” I assured her, “and yours is forever young.” Never mind, she doesn’t look anywhere close to her milestone.

How I met Jim Rimi is magical too. He exhibited next to Marty and me at the former Springfest Garden Show. Their grandson was less than a year then. I admired their art influenced by nature’s inspirations—pressings of plants in artful pottery. Generous and gracious sharing of faith is also evident in their art.

ceramic mug on rock in gardenceramic mug on rock in garden

Good things take time.

After purchasing Marty’s gift, a mug and sandwich plate of a garden scene with a sentiment, ‘Good things take time… you’re growing,’ I toured their gardens. The highlight—the new sedum garden! What a magnificent collection amongst a stream of river stones creatively placed by their grandson Dom, now six years old.  It warmed my heart to see the mix of plants and artifacts of pottery and poetry—a combination sedum garden and fairy garden filled with delights.

red ceramic heart in sedum garden with mothers day sayingGarden Dilemmas? (and now on your favorite PodcastApp.)

There’s something about sedum and the fun of placing them in little vignettes that reminds me of building terrariums out of forest finds as a kid. Links to previous columns you’ll enjoy: Terrariums – a Mini Gardening Warmup & Pallet Garden AC Screens 

Links to Jim and Karen’s Sedum Garden Plants:

Sedum Autumn Joy, Sedum’ Munstead Dark Red’,  Sedum spurium ‘Fuldaglut,’ Hens and Chicks, Wheels of Fire Ice Plant

… and link to their fantastic art at Rimi Studios

Mary Stone, owner of Stone Associates Landscape Design & Consulting. As a Landscape Designer, I am grateful for the joy of helping others beautify their surroundings which often leads to sharing encouragement and life experiences. These relationships inspired my weekly column published in THE PRESS, 'Garden Dilemmas? Ask Mary', began in 2012. I dream of growing the evolving community of readers into an interactive forum to share encouragement and support in Garden and Personal Recoveries - seeking nature’s inspirations, stimulating growth, weeding undesirables, embracing the unexpected. Thank you for visiting! Mary

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