Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Gardener's Bloom Day : Sedum


In Milan, April is the month of sedum and it has to be my choice for this month's gardener's Bloom Day. Stand in any residential area of town, look up and you'll see balconies lined with yellow - sometimes there'll be container after container across whole apartments. It looks great - from below it's just a mass of colour.

But I've always been intrigued about what happens to it afterwards. The flowering period is only two to three weeks. Do the people who fill their balconies with the stuff really only want flowers for a couple of weeks a year? Are they content just to look at the rather boring grey green plant for the rest of the year? Because if your balcony is full of sedum, there's no room for anything else.

Possibly yes. Because if you don't actually like gardening but just want "decoration" on the balcony, sedum is the perfect choice. It must be the least demanding plant that exists, at least in relation to the reward it provides for the albeit brief time it's in flower. Forget to water it for a while? It'll still be there. Brush against it by mistake and break half the stems off? Just stick 'em back in the pot and forget about them. They'll take, and you'll have an even larger display. Which means that you don't have to think about spending money for it. Despite the fact that it's found everywhere here, I've never seen it in a garden centre. Who'd buy it when it's so easy to nick a bit from your neighbour?


I've even seen someone guerilla gardening with it. Near us there's an underground garage, and around the entrance they'd built a low wall, hollow inside and full of earth. But it had never been used. So one day this little old lady arrives with her trowel and all her bits of sedum. And half an hour later, she'd planted a flower bed.



Personally I've only got two pots of the stuff - one small at the front and a larger one at the back. I'm not willing to give it any more space than that, and for much of the year I find myself toying with the idea of getting rid of it all together. But then April comes and I think that well, maybe it's not such a bad plant after all ....

13 comments:

Frances, said...

Love the guerilla gardener with the sedum. I agree that it takes up space that can be used for other things, but for that spot where nothing else will grow it is perfect.

Nan Ondra said...

The show may not last for long, but what a sight it is for now. Such a cheerful yellow, especially for this time of year. Thanks for sharing your photographs.

VP said...

European Guerilla Gardening? Brilliant!

Vanillalotus said...

I have yet to see sedum yet. Maybe I'm just not looking for it when it's out in the garden centers. I think it looks great. Maybe the ones that have fall color would be better interest since they bloom for a short time. The guerilla gardener story is kind of inspiring and I would love to do that with this city that could use more plants.

Leslie said...

Sedums are great here in pots that get too hot in the summer for much else...and I love the guerilla gardener story too!

Kris at Blithewold said...

I have never seen so much sedum in one place - here we have pansies galore in flower pots and window boxes. It's funny what's popular where. And isn't sedum the perfect choice for guerrillas who might not be able to tend their plot every day?!...

Carol said...

I like how you focus on one flower a month. In my garden, I let different sedums grow wherever they want. They fill in spaces where other plants can't or won't grow.

Thanks for joining in for bloom day again!

Carol, May Dreams Gardens

ladyluz said...

Hi Sue. Don't they look lovely on the balconies.

For all-year-round interest, they can be combined with the aeoniums, especially the schwarzkopf variety, that go blacker the more sun they get.

Guerilla gardening - what a great way to recycle plants that get out of hand in your own garden but can beautify a public space.

Sue Swift said...

Hi everyone - thanks for your comments. I've seen signs of quite a lot of guerilla gardening in Milan, and it's not uncommon for wasteland to be taken over unofficially and used as allottments. What was fun about this example was that it was being done by a fairly doddery old lady ...
But yes, sedum is the perfect "grow anywhere and in any conditions" plant. It doesn't seem to care about temperature, soil conditions, shade or light, food or water - it just grows.
Ladyluz - don't know aeoniums, but am off to Google them!

ladyluz said...

Hi Sue. If you've time, have a look at my Wed. 22 November post, where there are two types of aeonium, plus a lovely echevaria - all succulents that would thrive well in a big pot together with the sedum.

Kerri said...

Our youngest daughter and her boyfriend (who does green roof gardening and works with sedums) gave me a wonderful dish garden full of it last summer, and I was captivated by the plants....so easy to care for, and I love the tiny flowers. Mine are all in shades of pink - no yellow. It sure looks pretty decorating the balconies.
We have bright sunshine and 70º (21º) today. I'm off to the garden!

Garden Wise Guy said...

Sue - thanks for leaving your comments at my Garden Wise Guy blog. That Sedum display on all the balconies is stunning. What fun to have so many balconies with the same color leaping around. As for your comment about not having a great color sense, my suggestion is to go to an art supply shop and buy a painter's color wheel. There's so much information about tones and tints, and analogous vs contrasting color schemes, you'll learn a lot. Then look at pictures of gardens and "reverse engineer" what's going on with the schemes you like. Use the terminology of the color wheel to understand what's going on. You'll learn heaps.

Later, skater.

Sue Swift said...

Billy -thanks that's a great idea. I have been using the colour wheel on the BBC gardening website, but it's very basic - it just has the main colours and not the intermediate shades. I'll be round at our art supplies shop tomorrow!

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