THE STORY of sedum Atlantis is as fascinating as its name is mysterious – a legenday island reputed to have existed in the Atlantic Ocean west of Gibraltar and said to have sunk beneath the sea.
This versatile perennial, as revealed here yesterday, was very much on dry land as it won for Devon-based Suttons one of the top gongs at the on-going Chelsea Flower Show – the show’s Plant of the Year, no less.
One of its most noted features is its striking foliage (shown above) that forms rosettes of serrated green, with thick, creamy margins and tips that turn a pink blush in autumn.
Here’s where we introduce Dave Mackenzie. He is a noted perennial ground cover and living wall plant expert and has penned several books on the subject.
At the start of the 21st century, he was even asked by the Ford Motor Company for advice on how to create a ten-acre green roof for a new factory the firm were building.
One day, while inspecting plants in his Hortech nurseries on the banks of America’s Lake Michigan, he became excited when he spotted a sport of an unusual “Atlantic sedum” and – like any astute businessman – immediately recognised its commercial potential.
Dave is something of a perfectionist. He prides himself on not releasing plants until they are ready to thrive in the hands of his customers – and this striking and adaptable plant is no exception.
After years of testing in his nursery to prove its genetic stability and vigour, he was finally ready to release it into the wider world.
Suttons saw the inherent popularity of this sedum and introduced it into their comprehensive plant range, as well as nominating it for Plant of the Year at the current RHS spectacle.
As for planting and TLC, this sedum is happy in hanging basket, window box, pots, for indoor displays, rockeries or borders.
Beginners and time-poor gardeners will appreciate its tolerance to drought, while bees love it for its pollen.
It flowers from July to September, reaches around 6in high and spreads twice that distance. So, all in all, there’s not a lot of downside to this challenger!
For those not too familiar with sedum, this is a genus of an impressive 600 species and all are succulent to the touch. They range from the European Sedum acre, the biting stonecrop, with tiny yellow flowers, to spectabile from China, a stunning border jewel which displays flower heads of vivid pink, tinged mauve, or in deep rose, carmine or Meteor, depending on the variety.
Several, such as the Japanese sieboldii, are half-hardy and should be grown in the greenhouse or in a sunny spot outside during the summer. It produces grey, notched foliage, edged pink, grows in a prostrate manner and bears 2in-3in wide pink blooms in October.