Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’

This splendid member of the huge stonecrop family, a herbaceous perennial, can claim to be interesting for three hundred and sixty-five days a year, the whole plant forming a neat, circular mound with changing assets.

In spring, the mound is low, and consists of rosettes of fleshy, waxy, pale green leaves. Throughout the summer, the mound grows in height to about 12 inches (30 cm), making a lovely foliage plant to fill in between summer peren-nials in the border. Then the flowering stalks appear, with toothed leaves all the way up, and each stalk is topped with a large flat head of pale green buds; this is perhaps the plant’s most beautiful moment. By late summer, the buds have opened into clusters of small, deep coral-pink, starry flowers, and the stalks are 2 feet (60 cm) high. In autumn the flowers turn bronze, and finally brown. You can leave them on until late winter, and when you cut them, the new leaves will already be there.

In its bronze-pink prime, ‘Autumn Joy’ looks fine with other autumnal colours, and perhaps some yellow for lightness, and some silver in front. I have seen it planted alongside the shrubby Potentilla ‘Elizabeth’, with butter-yellow flowers still going strong, against a background of the shrub Viburnum X burkwoodii, which turns scarlet in autumn. In front of the bed was a silvery patch oiStachys lanata.

Plant ‘Autumn Joy’ in groups 18 inches (45 cm) apart in well-drained soil, not rich or heavy, and divide every three years or so in spring, for if the plant grows too-large, the flowers tend to topple over.

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