I’m guilty. I had my head turned and couldn’t resist. I spurned my first love and chose another. Now I realise my mistake and am desperate to make up for it.
Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’, I want you back.
I gave her up for Sedum ‘Matrona’, a taller beauty who had many admirers. Matrona, Matrona … everywhere I turned, it seemed people were talking about Matrona. It made her more alluring.
Life was great at first. Matrona made herself at home and generously produced lots of offspring. But then they grew too tall, and their pink heads and plum-tinged limbs didn’t suit their surroundings. My feelings for them waned.
Autumn Joy, I came to realise, is the one for me.
I love the way she shifts through the seasons. From spring domes of fresh green foliage she eventually sends up spikes topped by broad heads of pale buds. When I saw my few plants of Autumn Joy looking splendid with Miscanthus and Calamagrostis this summer, it struck me how seriously I’d underrated her. The buds open to reveal soft pink flowers, and gradually their colour deepens to crimson in autumn. That’s her at her peak. But the pleasure you can derive from Autumn Joy begins months earlier.
Even now, in early winter, the low sun is lighting up her copper stems. New growth is gathering at her feet, little eyes gazing up into the cool light. And her flower heads, now bronze, continue to add interest. I’ll leave them standing for a while yet.
I love that she’s just tall enough for me. At 70-80cm, she’s about 20cm shorter than Matrona. In the relatively small garden space on our quarter-acre block, I’m unwilling to devote the room to Matrona that she needs. Autumn Joy, on the other hand, fits perfectly.
I love how supportive she is of those around her. I intend to mix her more with grasses, Euphorbias, and Agastaches this year. Her stout foliage and flat flower tops will contrast with her neighbours’ verticality. I’ve seen, however, that in large drifts and formal settings she also works well.
Before then, though, I need to get her back.
I love how easy Sedums are to propagate. Two clumps of Autumn Joy have been sacrificed from my winter scene. They’ve been chopped up and pulled apart, for the greater good.
I’m determined to make a proper go of it.
Richard Padgett is bringing to life his design for his garden in Woodend, Victoria. You can follow his progress on Instagram: @richard_creates