Stonecrop Sedum telephinium ‘herbstfreude’

This week we have chosen a Greenway plant that notably marks the end of summer but continues to spectacularly flower through autumn. Sedum, a large genus of up to 600 flowering plants commonly known as Stonecrops.

Herbstfreude translates literally and understandably in English as ‘Autumn Joy’, appropriately reflecting our sentiment and highlighting another one of its common names.

Nobody likes a show off but this little plant breaks the rule. This sedum successfully grandstands any earlier flowering plant, stealing the scene initially with its deep purple leaves, which showcase the small starshaped raspberry red flowers, then much to the annoyance of its neighbours continues to impress as the enrichening floral display improves through autumn, only to be followed in November by showy clusters of ripening seed heads. If these seed heads remain you will be happily reminded of the plant during every frost or snow. This can continue right up until spring, when their new growth starts and they need clipped.   

Photo Credit: Colin McAlister 

Sedum are succulents, meaning that they are plants with water storing capabilities. In this sedum the leaf and stem appear thickened and fleshy allowing them to store water which gives them the ability to tolerate dry conditions much like cacti. If you touch the leaf it will feel cold even on a hot summers day!

Being this admired you can imagine this sedum also grabs the attention of the bees and birds. Its success has been marked by attaining the Award of Garden Merit and has also been added recently to the RHS Perfect for Pollinators list.

If you’ve managed to remain unconvinced about the merits of this plant, it's heat tolerant, easy to look after (it suffers neglect), and disease resistant once established. It is commonly used in cut flower displays as it tolerates light shade and poor soils. It can also be easily divided in spring which means you can plant it in a new place every year.  

Where to find it?

Sedum telephinium Herbstfreude is a standout perennial plant common to many gardens, complimentary to any planting scheme whether grand or small, formal or informal. It can be planted as a single plant but we think it looks best en masse. Within the Greenway we have planted them as a cluster in Flora Street, at the edge of a shrub bed, beneath a spring flowering cherry tree, and against a backdrop of ornamental grass and Rudbeckia. This helps the deep colour and fleshy leaves really standout, particularly at the edge of the clipped grass.

Photo Credit: Karen Oliver

Be Part of it…

Get out there and see if you can spot this show off. Let us know as you start to see the flower change colour or try and get a picture of it in the first frost...