We spent the weekend raking piles of (mostly) Oak leaves and hauling them into the woods to decompose. Unfortunately Oak trees have an annoying tendency to drop their leaves in stages. The ground is littered again, and some of the leaves won't drop until winter. After years of Octobers and Novembers, I've come to accept that the garden won't look tidy again until springtime.
One plant that still looks presentable is Sedum kamtschaticum, sometimes known by the common names Gold Sedum, Trailing Sedum, Low Stonecrop, or Orange Stonecrop. I can't remember how I got started with this plant, but I certainly found the perfect spot for it--growing in cracks between boulders in a stone wall.
How do plants grow in such places?
While it certainly is not currently at its best, Gold Sedum is among the few plants in my garden that aren't dormant, dead, or scraggly. In addition to the fact that this cultivar grows well on, and gives character to, the stone wall, it also helps to reduce erosion. It doesn't seem to repel the chipmunks, but I think it slows down their digging.
Here are some facts about Gold Sedum from two main sources--the Missouri Botanical Garden and North Carolina State University:
- Plant hardiness: zones 3 to 9;
- Lighting preference: full sun to partial shade;
- Soil conditions: tolerates poor soils, but prefers well-drained, moist soils;
- Water requirements: drought-tolerant succulent;
- Bloom time: late spring in northern climates;
- Colors: Bright, golden flowers and bright green foliage that turns reddish in late fall.
In my personal experience, this Sedum cultivar grows well on a north-facing slope that receives some morning and afternoon sun. I often transplant sprigs of it on a whim--simply lifting (by the roots) sections that seem overcrowded, and placing them in bare spots along the wall. They transplant well with next to no care.
When in bloom, they add bursts of color along the gray wall.
When the flowers fade, the fruits are nearly as interesting with their star-shaped clusters.
And the succulent foliage looks delightful during three seasons...especially when coated with raindrops or dew.