Autumn joy

Late-blooming sedum spices up an unthirsty border
By Colleen Smith

When conditions are rugged, plants must be tough. Such is the case on this steep, south-facing hillside in a Cherry Hills Village, Colorado, backyard. In this richly hued planting flanking a stairway made of dry-stacked sandstone slabs, landscape architect Herb Schaal selected shrubs and perennials he knew could thrive in that location.

For much of the season, the focus is on feathery, blue green 'Hughes' juniper and silver-leafed snow-in-summer. Then in late summer or early fall, the real show begins when the 1- to 1 1/2-foot-tall, dome-shaped heads of Sedum 'Autumn Joy' burst into bloom, displaying dozens of starry pink flowers. Like a chameleon, flower color changes dramatically ― from pink to coppery pink to rusty orange as the season progresses. Remarkably, the plants survive on only 1/2 inch of irrigation water per week.

DESIGN: Herb Schaal, EDAW, Fort Collins, CO (970/484-6073)

Photograph by David Winger