Tag Archives: hens and chicks

Sedum, Sempervivum, and Erosion control

Several years ago I was given a Jade plant by a coworker. He advised me it belonged in the “succulent” or “desert plant” family. Although it did, eventually, die, I found myself intrigued by the benefits and potential of a drought resistant, dry site tolerant sun lover.


IMG_1290Last year, I was given some free sedum divisions by the daughter of one of my neighbors I think they are Autumn Joy. She had been thinning out a large patch for her mother, and wondered if I wanted any. How could I resist? Free plants? Of course I would love them!

She gave me two plants, which I immediately found homes for. One went next to the garage door, and the other was at the end of the stone path near the boxwood and downspout. They needed to be at the top of the slope, where there was adequate drainage and no chance of sitting water. This side of the house gets more than 6 hours of full sun, and a lot of partial sun in the morning, so I had no worries about meeting their light requirements. And now I had a good plant for erosion control, because it didn’t need to be watered.
IMG_1293When my sister moved in with us for a few months, she brought with her these little squiggly guys (possibly sedum reflexum). I am not a huge fan due to their shallow, but convoluted, root systems. However, they are helping with erosion control, and they were free. But I still need to keep an eye on them. Apparently they are fast spreading creepers, and any cuttings or breakages will quickly root if allowed access to water or soil.

IMG_1292Another plant she brought with her is this ferny guy. I have to confess, I have no idea what he is, and my internet searches have come up blank. He acts like a sedum, though, preferring dry soil to wet soil, and thriving in full sun. He is also a creeper, and because of his pretty little yellow flowers, I don’t mind him spreading out a bit beneath my magnolia, keeping the soil in that location from eroding as badly as some other areas have.

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During the winter, Autumn Joy died to the ground (as I expected). This spring, these quarter sized Rosettes emerged from her remains. Aren’t they pretty? I wonder when the flowering stalks start to emerge?

Apparently some of her stalks fell to the ground last year, and like the little squiggly guys, they developed a root system. I now have four more volunteer plants. Two of these guys are going into Forsythia corner for fall interest, the other two will be used as fillers for the side garden.

IMG_1787Here is a small irony-I visited Farrand Farms last year, a local greenhouse, and bought 4 $10 pots of Hens and Chicks (sempervivum). After my purchase, my son had to use the restroom, and while I was waiting I noticed an advertisement on the wall from a man in the area who needed to give away some of his hens and chicks. He was so darling about it, too! When I contacted him, he kept saying “yep, the poultry yard is just too small. Gotta get some foul on the move . . .”

IMG_2433The free Hens were green, and three of my purchased Hens were also green. During the winter, though, the color changed. Nearly every single one of them, except the free transplants, turned purple with the cold. I wonder if they will turn back?

These “Hens & Chicks” were placed throughout my stone path border, as you can see. The leftovers were then planted throughout the lower part of the slope near the iris and peonies, to help with erosion control. They aren’t stopping it altogether, but they are helping a great deal. Once I have more established ground cover, I will remove them. Or I just may let them become the ground cover, they do spread rather quickly . . .

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DIY Landscape Part 6: Plants

Cont from Part 5.

Now for my favorite part-the plants! I LOVE flowing plants! The boxwood were possible all I thought I could take of non-flowering plants. And though I had a “basic” landscape design, I didn’t know exactly which plants I wanted to use. I had thought out some of my plant selections, like the Iris and the Peonies, but not all of them. And like most people, I am susceptible to the catching disease of impulse plant buying-and found out many of the reasons why a well thought out garden is preferable to a garden driven by impulse.

I had purchased some Peony roots, Gladiolus corms,  and some packets of seed for Lupine, Shasta Daisy, Forget me nots, and Sunflower (for the kids to have fun with). I was in a bit of a hurry for flowers and foliage, so these went in while the path and yard were still “in progress”.


The Peonies probably took the longest to grow, even though I planted them first. I dug holes in the grass and surrounded them with stones so I would know where they were. They went in the first week of April, and I just can’t remember when the buds started to emerge, but I was also in a hurry since my neighbor mowed down one of the emerging peonies. This was what inspired the brick border between the lawns, something that became a priority at the time.

Here is the “damaged” Peony at the end of May, sending up its second shoot, with pictures of the other two that were planted at the same time. Obviously they had more time to develop.


And here are the same Peonies almost a year after initial planting (the damaged peony is reflected in the last two pictures).


I planted the glads behind the boxwood. It seemed a good idea at the time-they were supported by the house, they had a vertical space to enhance-and for the most part, they did bloom. But I discovered the first of my many impulse buying errors-not all “perennials” are perennials in my zone. Glads happen to behave like an annual. The frost and winter moisture kills them. If you want them again the next year, they must be “lifted” in the fall. I didn’t do that. I want a low maintenance garden. Lifting corms in the fall is anything but.


The Lupine didn’t make it more than a few months. Im not sure what I did wrong, because they germinated fine, but I decided that if they needed more maintenance than I could give them, they weren’t appropriate for the spot, so I won’t be trying them again.


The same went for the hollyhocks and the astilbe, both of which I planted bare-root.

I also planted seeds for forget me knots and shasta daisy. The forget me knots did great, but I think I accidentally pulled up the shasta daisy (a common theme with me-everything looks like a weed until it flowers).


Here are the baby alyssum that that were spot planted. They worked splendidly as erosion control, and I will probably plant them again this year if they didn’t self-seed.


At a local greenhouse, I purchased 3 containers of Hens and chicks (mainly to go between the borderstones for the path). I also received some for free from another neighbor a few blocks. He had advertised at the local nursery that his “little poultry farm” was “growing too large”. He sent me home with a large cast iron pot smack full of them.


Another impulse buy-Peruvian Daffodil. I have a sneaking suspicion these are also annuals in this zone.

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The rains were eroding my path. After some research, and some investigation into my slope, I realized not only did I need a low, creeping filler plant between the pavers, but I would most likely need two different kinds. One plant, at the top part of the path on either side, needed to be tread resistant, and tolerant of well drained and dry soils. The other would also need to be tread resistant, but tolerant of wet soils since it was in the valley of the slope.

Hence the creeping thyme at the top . . . (the first photo is from last year, the last three were taken a few days ago)

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. . . and some creeping Jenny at the bottom of the path. The creeping jenny spread fast and far in very little time. I have split it up and moved it to many different locations in the yard. I love how quickly it grows, and am not deterred in the least by its potential to take over everything.


My order for Hydrangea Ruby slippers hasn’t arrived yet, but it should be here in April. I also have some purple sage plants (between all the Peonies and the future hydrangea plant) . . . they are starting to come up . . .


Tulip and crocus . . .


Glory of the snow . . .

IMG_2349. . . and Agastache Raspberry summer (to replace the Hollyhocks).

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Behind the Agastache I planted some impulsively purchased purple globe allium. These suckers may be too big for that small patch (they now have a 5” circumference), but I am still excited to see how they look.

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I purchased some Sunbeam Coreopsis last year, having been informed that they were a perennial and would come back. This year, in spite of my doubts, I found that there did appear to be tender buds beneath the plant, covered in leaf mulch. I planted them in front of the future hydrangea site both to “heel in” while I prepare their future location, but also to help with erosion in that site.


I had some lobelia, but I think I killed it. The greenhouse informed me it should do well toward the bottom of a slope where there was a lot of moisture, but I am not so sure now. They died out pretty quickly. I suspect root rot. I’ll keep an eye out for growth from the area where I planted them, but I have very little hope.

Cont to Part 7.