Perennial Sedums, the winter hardy version of succulents, are tough. Remember, if you like succulents, there are two kinds, the tender ones that can’t survive freezing temperatures—like echeveria, jade plants, burro’s tail—and these, commonly called Hens and Chicks or stonecrop, which are perfectly able to withstand Canadian winters. There is always a space where you can fit a few in your garden. And there are so many named varieties of hardy sedum to choose from. Colours range from green, blue-green, and pink all the way to deep purple. One of my favourite new varieties that does well in dry shade is bright yellow-green ‘Angelina’, which turns orange in the fall.
The sustainable approach to gardening is to make sure you have growing plants covering soil, rather than on relying on mulch. Avoid bare soil at any cost. Instead, use low ground covers for any garden bare spots. Sedums work especially well in garden crevices, as seen in the picture above. They are true ground huggers and help to stop erosion on slopes. This sedum patch above, is growing on a slope, where even mulch would be regularly washed away.
Hens and Chicks are the ground hugging sedums, and are mostly grown for their rosettes of foliage. However when they do put up a rare flower, which appear in clusters at the end of a tough stalk, they are positively outer-space looking. I find them fascinating. All sedums are a low-maintenance gardeners dream. The short ones you need do absolutely nothing with, apart from pulling out a rare weed that may infiltrate a rare gaps. The picture above shows a tiny one at left.
The taller sedums, like ‘Autumn Joy’ and its many versions make neat mounds in the garden about a foot and a half high. The only maintenance a taller sedum requires is a haircut in early spring to cut off the dead stems and flowers. ‘Autumn Joy’ sedum begins to flower in August and September and continues till frost. These look best when you plant several together to make an impact. And the flowers are loved by bees and other pollinators. They are great paired with grasses and late summer flowering perennials like ‘Goldsturm’ rudbeckia.