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Summer stunners; Award-winning sedums need little water, are versatile and create a vivid carpet of colour.

Byline: YOUR GARDEN With Diarmuid Gavin

EACH year at the Chelsea Flower Show, growers and nurserymen put forward new plants to be judged by the RHS, all competing for the prestigious title of Plant of the Year.

Notable past winners include the ever popular Geranium 'Rozanne', which reliably produces its distinctive blue flowers across the summer, and the delicate Japanese anemone 'Wild Swan' whose white petals have a distinct grey-blue streak on the reverse.

This year's champion was Sedum takesimense 'Atlantis'. This is an easy-to-grow variegated stonecrop whose fleshy, serrated, succulent leaves are a bright combination of yellow and green. The tips will turn a pinkish blush in autumn. It will form a low-growing (about 30cm high) mat and produces yellow flowers from June to September. The flowers are butterfly magnets and bee friendly as well. It's available from Suttons via mail order at suttons.co. uk.

So what makes this a winning plant? Climate change, long hot summers and conservation of water are all hot topics right now and gardeners, particularly in the south-east, will readily appreciate the benefits of tough, drought-tolerant plants.

With hosepipe bans being a regular occurrence, sedums fit the bill as their fleshy leaves and stems can store moisture so they won't wilt as quickly.

In addition, their leaves have a waxy substance which slows evaporation.

This makes them useful plants for containers and hanging baskets as your watering regime can be a bit more relaxed. But if you see the leaves getting wrinkly then you need to give them a good watering and also keep them watered until they are established. Sedums are compact and ideal for smaller gardens or even window boxes.

There is a great tradition of using them as carpet bedding plants, along with houseleeks (sempervivums) and echeverias to create wonderful whirls, swirls and elaborate patterns.

A similar look can be achieved on a smaller level by planting up a container and using a John Innes compost with plenty of added grit.

Beautiful contrasts can be achieved as there's a big variety of foliage colour available, ranging from rich burgundies, plums and oranges to the more subtle silvers and pale greenish-greys. Here I've used a bowl and planted a mix of stonecrop and houseleek. Sedum 'Cape Blanco' holds an RHS Award of Garden Merit and has golden flower heads over mats of small rosettes with silvery-white flesh.

Sempervivum 'Rubin' provides a pop of colour with its dark maroon rosettes and Sedum 'Coral Carpet' is a lovely fresh green.

This versatile, desert-style plant is also a top choice for green roofs and vertical walls - it's lightweight, evergreen, robust and low-maintenance.

It's also great for rockeries, filling gaps in paving, and looks the part in n gravel gardens. Other drought-tolerant plants to beat the heat this summer are any of the Mediterranean species such as rosemary, thyme and lavender, as well as those with furry silvery leaves such as stachys, verbascum and salvias.

Bring on the sunshine!

CAPTION(S):

Succulents make a great display

Beautiful contrasts can be achieved as there is such a variety of foliage colour available, from rich and vivid to delicate and subtle

Geranium 'Rozanne' reliably produces its flowers through summer

Sedum takesimense 'Atlantis'
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Loughborough Echo (Loughborough, England)
Date:Jun 12, 2019
Words:535
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