This is one of our other sedums that I mentioned in last week's post on Iowa hardy sedums. I was finally able to identify this one thanks to a post on Davesgarden, after spending a fair amount of time Googling around the myriad species of sedums. It's a mouthful to say Sedum Khamtschaticum, but it does give a clue as to its origins in Russia, thus one of its common names, Russian Stonecrop. It seems like almost all the sedums I've researched recently get pegged with some variant of Stonecrop, though when I see that name I tend to think of the taller, erect varieties that bloom in the fall. Now, I'm obviously no expert on sedums (I spend a lot more time on Hibiscus and Delphiniums and such), but it seems kind of misleading to me to lump the mounding and creeping varieties in with the larger more vertical species. Sure, they're all members of the Crassulaceae, which points to innumerable species of succulents (such as the common houseplant called "Jade Tree"). But in most common gardener's parlance, the mention of Stonecrop tends to conjure up the fall blooming variety... so yeah, I'm one to quibble on plant nomenclature on occasion (don't get me going on the Delphinium ambigua versus D. elatum!) so I'll politely let it go at this point.
I took these shots on 11 June, when it was just starting to bloom, I noticed yesterday when I was out weeding (for 3 hours!) that it's now mostly open and looking quite cheery. Though I characterized it as 'heirloom,' it's not one of the original plants growing here when we moved in in fall 1998 ... this comes from my sister's backyard, where it grows in rampant abundance by her garage. She likes it and lets a lot of it stake out its space, but whenever it starts going further than she'd like, she just digs it up and brings it over to us, so in a way, it is an heirloom, just not from our garden. And I always happily oblige her, because this is my very favorite sedum we have planted. Unlike Sedum sarmentosum, it's a much more well behaved plant and is hardly as profligate as its relative. The best feature about S. khamtschaticum, at least for me, is that it has a very nice, clean mounding habit that will fill whatever space you give it, and even when it's not blooming, its attractive fleshy foliage will usually keep down whatever weeds that try to horn in on its territory. And, if you're a fan of rock gardens, this is, in my humble opinion, a must have ... as you can see from these photos, it's quite happy to grow at the base of the boulder bed (see second photo above) or in the various crevices that I've plugged it into around the front beds. Once planted, you can basically ignore it and it will happily go on its way in the worst of conditions (rain or drought) and reward you in June (at least here) with its clusters of cheery yellow flowers right on through to early July, when it goes all foliage. Truly, it's a real no maintenance plant once the planting is done, and like S. sarmentosum, it cleans itself up after frost by just quietly disappearing for the winter, only to return in Spring, vigorous as ever. If I could only have one sedum, this would be my choice, no question.
I'm trying an experiment this year in my Butterfly Bush/Hibiscus/Kniphofia bed that has been getting overrun by weeds in mid-summer ... My sister gave me a bunch last year that I never got planted, and the pots just sat on the patio all summer through the winter, then courageously came back in force this spring, so I decided to turn it loose in that bed to try to tame the increasingly rampant Coreopsis I have there. I know there are a lot of Coreopsis fans out there, but the variety I planted years ago has been really honking me off the last few years ... it's spreading, weed-like, and moving into areas where I don't want it. Yes, it has lovely bright yellow flowers, but the plants are so prone to just flopping around all over that I get weary trying to prop them up. I was ready to just yank them all out and say let's be done with it this year, until Fernymoss reminded me that I discovered our first Praying Mantis on it last year, which ended that discussion quickly. We were so thrilled to have Mantises in our yard that we want to give them as much encouragement to stick around as we can, because they're such beneficial and fascinating insects to have in the garden, so the Coreopsis has a stay of execution, for now. I'm just hoping that this sedum will spread sufficiently to fill in the front part of the bed (where I usually plant Nasturtiums) that it will keep the Coreopsis in line ... time will tell, and by the time the Hibiscus are blooming, we should have a better idea.
Flooding situation update: Fortunately, Des Moines has had a 3 day reprieve from rain, with plentiful sunshine since Friday, and the forecast for next week has nary a mention of serious threats of rain. Des Moines, in particular, has dodged the bullet for the most part, except for the Birdland Neighborhood in the NE part of the city, which has experienced serious devastation due to the failure of a levee late Friday into Saturday. This was a very old (50's era) levee that just couldn't hold any longer and residents in that area are truly in a world of hurt at present. There was some flooding downtown in various places Friday night, but not as bad as some were predicting. The Water Works is safe at this point, and there haven't been any interruptions in the water supply (which was our biggest worry). The Des Moines river has crested and is receding, so a week of drier days will do wonders to alleviate the anxiety that has been palpable over the past week.
Residents of Cedar Rapids and Iowa City (and numerous smaller towns) haven't been so lucky, however. The Cedar and Iowa rivers have yet to crest and much of both cities remains under water at this point. The University of Iowa in particular has been really hard hit, and a great deal of the campus (which adjoins the riverfront) is still under water as well. Coralville (right next to IC) with its dam, still remains in peril and will experience catastrophic losses of property, business as well as residential. It's going to be a long recovery for these folks, so send your best vibes, prayers or whatever their way, because they're going to need it!! I read tonight that Southeastern Iowa is now experiencing problems as water moves downstream, so include them as well ... I-80 east of Iowa City remains closed until further notice, so if anyone reading this who might be planning on heading that way (e.g. to Chicago and points east) should take that into account. Yes, we've had 3 days of dry weather here, but it's not over yet, and the recovery has yet to begin ... wish us luck!