Right Place for a Weed

sedum acreSo I grumbled a lot about star of Bethlehem last week (thanks for all your comments!), but on a happier note there’s one “weed” in my yard that I absolutely love. I think some of you may agree with me and some may disagree. I would love to hear your comments either way!

Sedum acre. Maybe because my first horticultural love was cacti and other succulents. I had a great collection through high school and college, but when I got married and we moved to an apartment with little space and less sun, I sent most of them to live in my father’s office. (Where they are doing very well. Go, Dad!) Our current home, a house of our own, could host some potted cacti . . . but (1) they aren’t toddler proof and (2) between said toddler, work, household chores and outdoor, in-ground garden (at last!) I don’t really have the time nor inclination to be messing around with cacti—inventing ways to repot them without getting prickled, dusting between their spines with watercolor paintbrushes, convincing people they weren’t all the same and all the other sorts of crazy things I somehow used to have time for when I wasn’t knitting bookmarks and miniature birds. Wow, this post has dissolved into a tangent on my past strange bachelorette hobbies!

Back to Sedum acre. Imagine my delight when I found, in my New England homestead, a succulent growing in the yard! In several places! The best place is our front rock wall, which keeps our front yard from falling onto the sidewalk. The sedum spills over it and crawls through its crevices, softening the look of the stone with such a friendly green. In the spring, it glows with yellow flowers that I think will look lovely with the salvia I planted last year. I’m just waiting for the sun to come out so I can see!

Sedum acre also grows in parts of our front lawn, and I also find it enjoyable there. We have some out back, as well, but the back yard is extremely shady, so the sedum tends to get—well, we usually say “leggy” when plants stretch for the sun, but with such a short, creeping plant like this I would call it “necky.” This year I transplanted some of the backyard crop to my front garden, beneath some new shrubs, where I hope it will form a good groundcover. I have every reason to believe it will, given the vigor it has shown throughout the yard. The transplants—which completely confused my husband (“Now what are you doing?”)—are doing great, especially considering how I ripped them up, walked through the yard with them in my hand, plunked them down and walked away. (There is a right and a not-so-great way to do things. I admit that in my own garden I often tend to do the latter, or else it just isn’t going to get done at all.)

If you’re still with me and waiting for the part when I tell you about my favorite weed, I already did. It’s Sedum acre. I know I’m not the only one who loves it; I know it’s sold and there are even named selections. But it is also considered a weed by many. It’s native to Europe; it has naturalized in much of North America. It spreads, mainly by stolons, and pieces that break loose will root themselves. For me, in our nearly two years here, it hasn’t been a “nuisance” spreader, and that’s not just because I like it. It’s really not spreading quickly or aggressively out of its spaces. I know that in other areas of the country, or even in my own region but under different conditions, it may drive people nuts.

I’d love to hear from anyone who loves S. acre or hates it, and where you are.

Or, what are some other “weeds” in your garden that you’re happy to live with?

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16 thoughts on “Right Place for a Weed

  1. I maintain gardens for clients, so I don’t like any weeds! Years ago I dicovered Creeping Charlie and it had such beautiful purple blooms on it that I decided to let it stay and see how it would work as a ground cover. Big mistake! It wound around, under and through the ornamental grasses and perennials. It is not an easy plant to irradicate because of that issue, so beware. I find that the Sedum that you like so much keeps popping up all over the place and I take it out, but a lot of people like it for it’s looks. Nepeta aka Catmint is a very nice perennial, but also has a tendency to pop up all over, as well.

  2. I love sedum acre! And, um, I love ground ivy/creeping Charlie (glechoma hederacea). I have too much garden to keep tidy, and the ground ivy colonizes all sorts of areas I don’t have the time or money to plant.

  3. I love wild Ginger ( asarum ) with it’s gorgeous purple flowers in spring and nice mounded shape with interesting leaves. In CO it doesn’t spread too fast and can tolerate dry shade with no additional irrigation.

  4. Dame’s Rocket is a favorite of mine. I pull nearly all of it after blooming but always some comes back. We have wilder areas where it is welcome and leave it in more cultivated places when it doesn’t block views of other plants.

    Last Sunday I put large buckets of Dame’s Rocket, senecio aureus (squaw-weed), Yellow Water Iris and a few stems of Cow Parsley
    (banned by the “weed Police” in my daughter’s parking lot in Seattle)at the entry doors of our church. They weren’t arrangements but were appreciated by attenders and taken home because many of our members live in retirement communities or places where they don’t have space or control.

  5. My favorite “weeds” are my raspberries. I don’t know what variety they are, but they are a very nice flavorful red one. They send up runners in my next-door vegetable raised beds, and I dig them up, move them to where I want them, or give them to friends or to the local Master Gardener chapter to sell at their annual sale.

  6. My favorite weed is Queen Anne’s Lace, which I’ve read is a garden escape from Colonial times. Nothing prettier than a meadow of it in bloom; that spells summer to me. It is invasive, so I prefer to gather some by the roadside than let it into the garden. I’m also a fan of Goldenrod, which has a popular garden plant in England for a long time. US gardeners will find cultivars of it for sale these days.

  7. Hi – I am new to this site and the mailing if not to gardening. I would really consider myself a slightly eccentric organic gardener, not a horticulturist, and will therefore keep my more unorthodox views to myself 😉 My absolute favorite weed is purslane! It grows everywhere I have lived in the North East, and until about 10 years ago you’d hear me cussin’ from next door as I yanked it out along with the mugwort, lambsquarters and (grrrr) bindweed. Nowadays I will still get the old adrenaline rush if I see a morning glory-like leaf out of place and will yank, dig and watch the area like a hawk. As for the others I either let them grow if not in a really inconvenient place, or transplant (in the case of purslane) to a corner of my veggie garden. Since I discovered these three are not only edible, and very tasty, but even considered borderline super-foods, I take two buckets when I weed – one for the compost heap and one for the kitchen 😉

    • Oops – I misspoke slightly. I don’t eat mugwort, but purslane, lambsquarters, and young danndelion leaves all find their way into my kitchen 😉

      • I LOVE purslane–I select for the more upright, larger-leafed plants in the “weed” assortment in my yard, discarding the rest. (By discard, I mean it either goes into the salad before flowering, or to the compost heap.) Since I’m in a new house, I’ve got to start all over again, but I’ve had great success in three past gardens in eventually having a much more upright and larger purslane, which of course I let seed all over the place.

    • Thank you for telling me about purslane! I will stop molesting it as it crops up in my veggie garden and enjoy it alongside my tomatoes!

  8. My favorite weed is wild strawberry. It makes a great groundcover, and if it gets a little too invasive, it’s easy to pull out. Also, great food for the birds, and wonderful white blooms in the spring.

  9. I started sedum acre years ago in my Pennsylvania garden. It has completely taken over in my gardens–and there is no getting rid of it! I disagree about it being easy to get rid of (perhaps because I started too late to try to remove it). Each little leaf or stem starts a new plant. I would never plant it again!

  10. My favorite ‘weed’ is Capanula glomerata…I purchsed 3 small plants at market (7 yrs ago) and it is extremely inhvasive. Every year I pull hundreds of plants out to keep it from invading my tree peonies but still can’t bring myself to killing it completely. It has a beautiful bloom on rigid stems that defies the wind. It blooms the same time that my Alchemilla mollis (Lady’s Mantle) blooms and I love to cut the two for vases because of the color combination. The purple of the glomerata and the lime green of the Lady’s mantle is striking. Wish I could post a picture.

  11. I’m pretty sure I also have sedum acre growing like a weed in my garden, and I also really like it. A friend gave me a starter clump, and it has spread all over – just as described by Megan, sometimes by me purposefully, and sometimes by itself. I think it works to some extent, in my very sunny, well drained beds, to lessen the evaporation of moisture. It certainly is not difficult to ‘rip’ out if it’s growing too abundantly!

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