September 22 … the first day of autumn. It’s my favourite season and I’m always happy when it arrives, despite complaining that I’m not quite ready to part with summer. It’s been greeted with both rain showers and sunshine today. Last weekend we had a series of storms — wind, torrential rain and hail. Our summer was long and hot, so the moisture isn’t unwelcome, but it’s really done a number on our flowers. The pots and baskets are burgeoning with greenery but blossoms are almost non-existent.
Fortunately, there is Autumn Joy Stonecrop (Hylotelephium telephium ‘Herbstfreude’). I first encountered this hardy sedum while visiting in the beautiful Minter Country Gardens near Chilliwack, BC. There were huge oak half barrels flanking the entrance gate, planted with impressive mounds of the rusty-pink flowers, all abuzz with honey bees.
I didn’t come home with a plant on that particular trip. Instructions suggested it needed lots of sunshine, and I knew our shady property couldn’t offer the right conditions. But each spring while picking up bedding plants at our local nursery I would hover longingly over the little pots until one year I decided it couldn’t hurt to buy just one and test its ability to cope with the acidic, shaded environment.
And cope it did. In fact, it grew and spread until, after a few years it had outgrown its spot. I took to yanking out new volunteer plants each spring until I decided it was too vigorous for the location and I dug out every evidence of it.
But I really like Autumn Joy, so I risked salvaging one little piece. Initially I put it in a tub so I could move it around into the sun … but visiting bears seemed to think I was serving them a bowl of salad. So I finally planted it in a corner of one back garden bed that they usually bypass when wandering through our property. The plant isn’t as happy there, but that suits me perfectly because it’s slower growing, so I can keep up with it.
Happy Autumn to all!
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