May 20, 2022
When I take Zena outside, I keep her in the main part of the yard to keep her from going “walkabout”. When Melissa takes Zena out, she allows more latitude and lets her to go into the side yard near the front driveway bed. Earlier this week she called for me to come and look at what was happening in the bed. She proudly showed me how well the sedum plant was doing, noting it had also bloomed in the early summer rather than late summer. To my credit I try to keep the bed weeded and get the twigs and leaves that fall from the Bradford pear out of the bed. Still, the sedum always looked exhausted, and I assumed it would die like the other succulents we had planted in the bed. Instead, it looked strong and healthy.
Pink Mongolian Sedum (Sedum ewersii) or pink stonecrop, is a deciduous succulent that forms a low mound of decumbent stems that bear fleshy, pale green to gray-green leaves. The scientific epithet “ewersii” honors Johann Phillip Gustav van Ewers, a German legal historian and promoter of Carl Friedrich van Ledebout’s botanical exploration in Siberia. It grows up to 4 inches (10 cm) tall. The stems are thin but wiry, woody, and branched at the base, and grow up to 10 inches (25 cm) long. The leaves are rounded with margins entire or finely toothed and up to 0.8 inches (2 cm) in diameter. The flowers are pink or pale purple and star shaped, and about 0.4 inches (1 cm) across. It is suggested to place the sedum in a gravel scree, alpine trough, or mixed container. The flowers are supposed to appear in late summer in clusters on short stems above the foliage. For some reason, ours had bloomed in May.
Mongolian sedum is native to the Himalayas and the mountains of Central Asia and can thrive at elevations up to 14,000 feet (4,300 m). In the US, it is used as an edging or rock garden plant, especially for hot, dry sites. Melissa changed out the mulch that used to cover this bed for small pebble gravel. In seems to have done much better since the change. This sedum is also called Hylotelephium ewersii, yet another species that has undergone recent taxonomic change. Hylotelephium is a genus of flowering plants in the stonecrop family Crassulaceae that includes about 33 species distributed in Asia, Europe, and North America. Species in the genus were formerly included in Sedum and are popular garden plants. They are still commonly known as ” sedum “, “stonecrop”, “live-for-ever” or “orpine”.
THOUGHTS: Several front yard beds have waivered over the last years between flowers to succulents, and even back to bushes. This is in part due to what will survive in the different shade and the Arkansas winters. When we first put in flowers, I mulched the beds to keep the weeds down. When Melissa wanted to grow succulents, we removed the mulch and the crepe myrtle in the side driveway beds and replaced it with pea gravel for drainage. The big aloes we planted died from cold and the following year the myrtles self-generated. The decision now is whether to proceed with more pea gravel (succulents) or replace the mulch (myrtle). Many choices are dependent on nature verses human need. When we fight nature, the ecosystem eventually wins. Act for all. Change is coming and it starts with you.