The world is changing. The way we garden is changing. But, are plants are changing with it? That's the big question! At the recent RHS Chelsea Flower Show, there was an audible gasp when a SEDUM won the coveted Plant of the Year award. In times gone by, Sedum would be seen as the ugly sister, relegated to a forgotten corner of the rockery and given no love.
But, it seems Cinderella shall now come to the ball, and she'll also be the star of the show, pirouetting in the centre of the dance floor!
Warmer, drier summers, busier and more demanding lives; we need a plant that ticks a LOT of boxes. Sedum 'Atlantis' is a hardy outdoor succulent; strong, resilient and self-sufficient. It's also a 'succulent', you only have to open Instagram to see how they send the millennial crazy!
Listen to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show podcast episode by The Plant Based Podcast here.
How was this plant created?
Like all gripping TV shows, any good story needs a fair deal of 'jeopardy' in order to make it interesting. Sedum 'Atlantis' almost wasn't to be.
Product Developer, Bert Roma was maintaining a block of Sedum takesimense. Sedum can be a free-flowing plant, and hen growing in pots for sale, they'll need trimming back from time to time. In that sea of green on the nursery, Bert caught a glimmer of yellow in the corner of his eye.
One single stem of Sedum takesimense was "variegated", which means it has colour other than green within the leaf. Variegation is caused by the masking of green pigments by other pigments, but usually only happens by chance, and exists in just that single stem of the plant.
Propagating a variegated plant is a careful process, as failure to root means failure of the entire plant. In his excitement, Bert had removed this variegated stem. OH GOSH! You can imagine his panic when he took this single cutting to Product Manager, Dave and was told he could have a winner of a plant in his hand. But that's only if it would root...
What’s different about this plant?
Thankfully, that cutting rooted! Dave kinda knew it would though... Sedum are SUPER tough plants, and would probably still have survived if Bert had kicked it around the yard. And that's what makes Sedum bloody good garden plants!
"But, of course, the original Sedum takesimense was a plain Jane of a plant. This new golden swish really changed things up!"
The colour combination now looks as if it was always meant to be. The rosette formation of the leaves is fascinating, with each collared by creamy edges. The summer months really jazz up the plants too, as teeny-tiny yellow blooms appear, arranged like starfish on the tips of each stem. We now had a plant that wouldn't be hidden away in a tired old rockery, it would be a blaze of colour in a bedding scheme, in mixed patio pots, even in hanging baskets... It's super exciting to have a plant to experiment with in so many ways!
Where can you plant Sedum 'Atlantis'?
One thing you need to know is; Sedum don't need or want much water. In fact, I challenge you to forget to water your plant for 6 months, and I bet $4 it'll still be happy and alive! The clue is in the name: 'succulent'. these plants basically store their own water in their leaves. Much like a cactus, but without the nasty spines!
The perfect specimen for 'xeriscaping', the new trend of growing plants and creating landscapes that don't need water. Concerns over climate change mean we are starting to consider our gardens in different ways. Younger people are also starting to engage with plants more, and their needs and desires are different to those that gardened before us. Combine this with our busier lives and lack of space and what you have is pretty much THE PERFECT PLANT.
Bees love it too, as do butterflies! And, rabbit, they DON'T like it. Hurrah!
It really is no wonder that Sedum 'Atlantis' won RHS Chelsea Plant of the Year to a rapturous applause. To me, it was more than just a win, it was a sign of changing times and how the horticultural world is wising up and adapting to that. Blooming ace!
Where can you buy this plant?
Plants will soon be available in garden centres across Europe, and by mail order right now from Thompson & Morgan, or Great Garden Plants in the USA.
How to grow Sedum 'Atlantis':
Flowering time: July to September
Location: Borders, bedding, patio pots, rockeries
Soil: Dry, well-drained soil
Hardy: Survives down to -30C!
Care: Prune lightly after flowering, just to tidy up!
Size: 15cm (6") high x 30cm (12") in spread
Plant of the Month is sponsored by Plantipp, a company based in The Netherlands who handle the introduction of new plants into Europe (with Concept Plants doing the same job in North America). Sedum 'Atlantis' is bred by Hortech
See every Plant of the Month here.
Read more about Sedum 'Atlantis' here.