Friday, December 18, 2009

Pagodas of Lu Shan

I remember overhearing Bernice (Pete) Peterson admonish T. Paul Maslin (both my mentors, both long gone) at DBG's plant sale: "So you'll visit Lu Shan! You must bring back Sedum chanettii". She explained that Praeger goes on about this sedum in his monograph (which I must read some day!). Paul returned to that not quite sacred Chinese mountain (it should have been #6) where he grew up and was enthralled by Nature. He found a sedum and brought it back the next Plant Sale (what transpired on Lu Shan over the man's lifetime would fill encyclopaedias): Sedum sarmentosum...I still remember Pete's tremolo and profound disappointment ("Oh Paul, yes thank you....). Chanetii is to sarmentosa as Catherine Deneuve is to Paris Hilton, you see...All this transpired, by the way, almost 40 years ago. In the perfect afterlife, my mentors gardens would be closer to one another than they were on Earth: Pete lived in Littleton and Paul over 30 miles away in Boulder, and they would converse once a year at the plant least until we started the rock garden chapter.

It remained for me to bring the Sedum (I prefer Orostachys) from Kew in May of 1980, and it has prospered here and there all over my various gardens and at Denver Botanic Garden. It is probably the loveliest orostachys for many reasons: the precise rosettes are incredibly delicate and intricately sculpted and bright alabaster and granitic in their coloration. They bloom in late spring rather than late autumn, and the flowers are a lovely shade of creamy chartreuse.

I have seen orostachys everywhere in the Altai of Kazakhstan and Mongolia, and on the roof tiles of Suzhou. I hope one day I can climb the crags of Lushan and find this succulent morsel blooming there.


  1. That plant is i.n.c.r.e.d.i.b.l.e. to me...I have never seen anything like it. Before I read the text, my first reaction was "Echium?"

    What an amazing feat of nature!!

  2. I believe I have some seed tucked away, and of course lots of offsets: send me your address in a month or so and I'll post some to you. My email is

  3. You're on! That would be marvelous - very much appreciated. We have the bones of a new rock garden here and it is my intent to fill the area with many treasures...and that would surely be one. Thank you!


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