I can't find his original post on the subject, but Stuart asked his fellow gardeners an intriguing question a while back. I'm paraphrasing, but the main point of his question was: "If you could change one thing about a particular plant that you otherwise love, what would it be?"
I never got around to answering that question at the time, but I tucked it away in a corner of my mind. Sometimes I would be mentally cursing a particular plant, and the question would pop up. "Would Plant X be in my answer to Stuart's question?"
Then I would determine that no, Plant X had more than just one fault. Or that no, it didn't really have any faults, it was just being tended to by a subpar gardener. Or that no, it had only that one fault but didn't really have any redeeming qualities so I didn't want to mention it. (That last realization was often the beginning of the end for that particular plant!)
Today, my answer finally hit me: Sedum 'Matrona'
Matrona is a very handsome sedum most of the year. The bluish succulent leaves and plummy stems keep it looking good all season. You can pinch it repeatedly to keep it compact and short, and you can use that method to shape it around its neighbors or step it up to a short wall like I've done here.
Its foliage has a good vase life if you take a whole stem and add it into a small arrangement to compliment something more airy--say, verbena bonariensis. It flowers in the late summer/early fall, and its dead flower stalks look wonderful poking out of the snow in the winter.
But the picture above shows exactly what I would want to change about it. When it does flower, the blooms are pink. Baby, bubblegum, cotton candy PINK! Why not purple, or burgundy, or a lovely wine-red to compliment the stems? No, none of those... only pink. Argh.
In case you haven't caught on to this yet, I really don't like pink in my own garden. I admire it in other yards, but I can't figure out how to use it well in my own. Fate--or natural order, or something--had long ago determined that I would be better associated with and more suited to things that are "interesting" rather than things that are "pretty." I'm simply inept with the latter!
Well, for the 99% of the year that Sedum 'Matrona' is more interesting than pretty, it's going to stay in my garden. And for a few weeks, until the flowerheads start to turn darker and get closer to a decidedly more interesting shade of brown, I'll just turn my head when I pass her!
By the way, Welcome Back Stuart!!!