Sunday, September 3

"If Only..."

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!!!


Stuart said...

Thanks Kim for the welcome back.

I know what you meant about your Sedum. It's the same dislike I have for Hoya Carnosa. The colours just seem to clash when they could be incredibly deeper and then an awesome plant.

I do like many other hoyas but this one always seems to look out of place.

Karen said...

How do you pinch sedum and still get it to flower nicely? Do you have experience with any other sedum? (The way my 'Chocolate Autumn' turned out, I have the feeling it could have benefitted from some pinching, but I am sadly lacking in those skills.)

Unknown said...

Stuart, I'm not familiar with the hoyas so I googled them--I agree with you! (My favorite one was Hoya macgillivrayi, btw.)

I have that trouble with so many plants. I'd love the dark sambucus except that they flower pink. I'm trying to figure out if I can overlook the pink flowers on 'Summerwine' ninebark for the other 90% of the time that I would love it. Even worse than blue- or purple-foliaged plants that flower pink, though, are the gold-foliaged ones that do. I may be the only one, but I cringe every time I see them!

*stepping down from the soapbox that I didn't even know I had* lol.

Karen, have you pinched mums before? I follow the same "rules of thumb" with the sedum, and stop around mid-July. Only instead of shaping my sedum into a rounded mound I stepped it up to the wall since it's in such a tight space.

I went and checked out your pics of that, by the way, and I love the color. Especially, as you commented, next to chartreuse foliage.

Sigruns German Garden said...

Matrona is one of my best Sedum, but in this year most of them are ill because we had so much rain.


Unknown said...

Sigrun, I like the Matrona as well--much better than the Autumn Joy, which doesn't do much for me until the flowers start to darken!

Annie in Austin said...

Kim, there's a kind of spiraea with variegated gold leaves, and when the cotton candy pink flowers start opening, it looks weird to me, too. In general, I'm not so bothered by these plants in my friends' gardens, because they like different colors ... I prefer to sneer at them in nurseries, where my thoughts are all about what will be allowed to come home to MY yard.

roybe said...

Hello Kim, thanks for dropping by froggarden, I've left some info for you on the pipes. I must confess I find the very pale pinks a little bland in the garden depending on the type of flower. I much prefer the reds , purples and blues. If I could change a plant,I think I'd change a daylily into a weekly lily, for me the flowers disappear far to quickly. Have a nice day.

lisa said...

I have a nice little red sedum called "Voodoo" that stays medium/short (like "Dragon's Blood), and the flowers are blood-red. Earlier than most sedum, though...about mid-summer.

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