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

A Special Sedum & Succulent Garden

sedum garden behind spring house

Hello, fellow lovers of all things green, After last week’s Festive Partridge Berry – Terrarium Basics Podcast (Episode 144), Jamie asked if the sedums used in the terrarium are succulents, reminding me of a special sedum and succulent garden.

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

Creeping Jenny, a perennial, 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 said, explaining the remnant gravel. But my work-in-progress sedum and succulent garden assumption inspired an idea!

sedum garden with gravel and riverstoneJim and Karen’s Sedum & Succulent Garden Selections 

When we met at a garden center to pick up the fill-in flowering shrubs, Jim and Karen snuck sedums onto the 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 land in the cart. Both grow twelve to twenty-four inches and bloom from late August to October. When dry through winter, the flowers remain a feature, especially when 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 from summer to fall, was also smuggled onto the cart.

What’s the difference between sedums and succulents?

Sedum is a genus of plants, and succulents are not. Succulent is an adjective to describe many types of plants with thick fleshy parts (roots, stems, or leaves) that store water for dry spells. While cacti are succulents, not all succulents are cacti. Sedums are succulents ranging from ground cover 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 gravel

Many 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 the new plants dug into their new home. That day came when I visited to purchase a pottery gift for my design colleague and dear friend Marty Carson, who was celebrating a milestone birthday. I met Karen and Jim Rimi when they exhibited next to Marty and me at the former Springfest Garden Show. I admired their art influenced by nature’s inspirations—pressings of plants in artful pottery. Generous and gracious sharing of faith was 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 the sentiment, ‘Good things take time… you’re growing,’ I toured Karen and Jim’s gardens. The highlight—the new sedum garden! What a magnificent collection amongst a stream of river stones creatively placed by their grandson Dom. It warmed my heart to see the mix of plants and artifacts of pottery and poetry—a combination of a sedum garden and a fairy garden filled with delights.

red ceramic heart in sedum garden with mothers day saying

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Update: Jim and Karen Rimi recently started a new chapter in their lives in Florida, and their daughter Emma Giovanni is making pottery. You can find her on Instagram @heartrtbeatstudios

Mary Stone, Garden Dilemmas, Ask Mary Stone,Gardening tips, Garden Blogs, Stone Associates Landscape Design, Garden Blog, Pallet Garden, Pallet AC ScreenLink to a family story about a pallet garden featuring sedums and other things not so ideal is sure to bring a chuckle. Pallet Garden & AC Screen

There’s more to the story in the Garden Dilemmas Podcast (@ ten soothing minutes):

Links to Jim and Karen’s Sedum & Succulent Garden Plants:

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’

Sedum’ Munstead Dark Red’

Hens and Chicks

Wheels of Fire Ice Plant

Sedum spurium ‘Fuldaglut’


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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