Composite Decking

The inspirational Garden Design Series, hosted by the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, is back for 2017. The line-up includes four national and international designers working at the forefront of public and private garden design. Learn how to view landscape through new eyes and use plants in different ways in your own garden by attending one of the talks.

High in the Teesdale valley, well west of north-east England's defunct pits and ship building, sit stone farmhouses – their roofs covered with tiles carrying sheets of the bright yellow sedum, Sedum acre.

In rry early 20s, I botanised here while contributing to Flora and Vegetation of County Durham, never realising that these farms continued a tradition stretching back to at least Roman times – giving the name Sedum to this huge genus of several hundred plants. It comes from the Latin sedo, meaning to calm or allay, and its presence on roofs was intended to calm the effects of lightning.

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Today, this tough succulent is still used in rooftop gardens.

Of greater interest to the Australian gardener is a group of sedums or stonecrops based around the tall and showy sedums, ice plant (S. Spectabile) and orphine (S. Telephium) – which are commonly used in herbaceous border displays. These are not officially sedums anymore as they have been reclassified in the genus Hylotelephium. However, since they are closely related, many of us still pass them off as sedums.

I've been besotted by these marvellous plants for years. They have rich qualities for gardeners, including dramatic changing flower colour that varies from cultivar to cultivar, good drought tolerance and a genuine ability to perform passingly well in even the poorest soils. They also attract butterflies and, provided you are willing to love decay, have a beautiful bronze winter skeleton that looks like intricately sculpted, weathered steel and extends their display to eight months.

I should say, that these stonecrops don't suit all tastes. A client of mine exclaimed that she and her husband loved their new garden except for the masses of pink broccoli! Their flowers do have a vague similarity to that delicious vegetable.

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