FROM THE STEPPE PLANTS OF THE WORLD, TO BETTER URBAN LANDSCAPES FOR ALL, ANNA ANDREYEVA
Photos courtesy of Anna Andreyeva, all rights reserved - see full gallery at bottom of post.
Anna Andreyeva is Russian-born UK- based garden designer, plantswoman, and mother. She is currently pursuing a horticultural and ecological research PhD focused on perennial steppe plants around the world for green roofs and general urban planting in a changing world under British plantsman Nigel Dunnett in Sheffield, England.
Anna has designed the plantings for many public spaces including the so-called 'Highline' of Moscow prior to moving to the UK four years ago.
In 2022, she collaborated on the planting plans for the “What Does Not Burn” garden, symbolizing the on-going war in Ukraine following the invasion by Russia, and reflecting Ukraine’s culture and traditions at the RHS Hampton Court flower show. Sponsored by the GLAU (Guild of Landscape Architects of Ukraine) and Studio Toop, the garden won an award for Global Impact.
Anna joins us this week to share more about gardens and plants as commons grounds and art forms to help meet the challenges ahead.
You can follow Anna's work on Instagram @andreyeva
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JOIN US again next week, when we travel further afield in conversation with Russian garden designer plantswoman and mother Anna Andreyeva, who collaborated on the Ukraine garden at this last year’s Hampton Court show in the UK, and currently working on her PhD under British plantsman Nigel Dunnet. It’s a conversation very much focused on gardens as transcendent common ground. Listen in!
Speaking of Plants...and Place:
Speaking of plants and place, this week an ode to the lovely and rugged genus Sedum. The largest genus in the Crassulaceae family sedums have long been beloved by rock gardener and green roof aficionadas the world over. But there is so much more to them – with their structural succulent foliage and their often vivid sweeping floral displays throughout spring, summer, and autumn depending on the species and your location – from acid yellow to creamy white and pink, to deep purples and reds.
Sedum include more than 500 species and more varieties of plants originally native to temperate and tropical mountains in North America, Mexico, Central America, Europe, Asia, northern and eastern Africa, the Atlantic islands, and the Indian Ocean islands. Of the approximately 30 varieties native to California, twelve are endemic and found only here.
One of the great joys of this genus is its adaptability to what others might find to be extenuating circumstances, and this durability is hinted at in one of the common names for the groundcover sedum – stonecrop. So called because they often seem to appear out of stone and without much more input or resources needed than that. In her 2007 book designing with succulents, expert Deborah Lee Baldwin notes that sedums are often considered rock garden or ground cover plants but that some of the most striking varieties are actually shrubby perennials that died to the ground in winter among those she considers most prized are Sedum spectabile also known as Hylotelephium spectabile, Sedum telethium, and Sedum ‘Vera Jameson’. These plants have upright fleshy stems that grow 18 inches to 2 feet in height and the flowers make for wonderful cut flowers as well as long standing elements in the garden in full flour, and in the tawnier and deeper colors of their seed heads. In his 2015 title The Plant Lover's Guide to Sedums, Brent Horvath lists 150 good sedums for gardeners, and he notes that they are all as easy to grow as the poster child" 'Autumn Joy,' needing a sunny spot in well-drained soil." Brent recommends that if you don’t yet have sedum, you should start small and choose one or more for a pot, or for a small corner of your garden – something like Christmas Cheer Sedum x rubrotinctum, and if you ask me the bright yellow foliage of Sedum mexicanum ‘Lemon Ball’ makes a great sedum carpet – on its own or mixed with other sedums in contrasting foliage colors from silvery blue to fresh green to deep burgundy. Small, and often good runners, sedum are great as green mulch in a matrix planting approach.
Honestly, their foliage forms and colors are among their greatest traits. But there are others! Because they are succulents, holding a lot of their water in their fleshy leaves and stems and tough root systems, sedum are easy to propagate by cutting, and can survive a good deal of drought and they are forgiving of neglect, which means they do not need to be fed, and pests and diseases are very few (which is also why they often keep you company on rocky mountain hikes). And whether they are spring, summer or autumn bloomers – the many varieties of sedum that are covered in star-shaped flowers will not only brighten your pots, your whole garden, and your day – they will bring in the bees and butterflies as well – generously offering nectar and pollen. The species that come to mind in this respect include: Sedum lanceolatum, Sedum divergens, Sedum oreganum, Sedum spathulifolium, which has chartreuse starry flowers with red stems and is native to Colordao; and Sedum ternatum, native from the Great Lakes east known as both woodland and mountain sedum with lovely small branches of white starry flowers.
But I encourage you to try to find interesting natives to your region and experiment yourselves – more are being described all the time – in just the past 10 years botanist friend Julie Kierstead has described several native to Northern California, including Sedum kiersteadii – which was named in her honor.
Sedums are at home on the steppes of Siberia, on prairie meadows and alpine rocky outcroppings, I think they’d be at home in your life too – they even make great cut flowers! If you have sedum images or stories – newly planted, longstanding, or seen in the wild you’d like to share – I would love to see them! Drop me a note: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thinking out loud this week:
Speaking of traveling farther afield – I am heading to Ohio next week – to Oxford Ohio and Miami University of Ohio and then on to a design summit in Columbus to be exact. And I am really looking forward to meeting gardeners of the professional and home varieties in both locations. If you happen to be within driving distance of Oxford Tuesday the 20th of September and want to get together with an enthusiastic group of gardeners and cultivators of place – please join Tuesday evening from 5 – 7 for an evening focused on how gardeners grow the world and our future better. Hosted by Miami University’s Institute for Food, Institute for the Environment & Sustainability, and Miami Ohio’s Ecology Research Center as well as the Des Fleurs garden club, the event will is free and will take place at Oxford Seniors. However, Registration is required as space is limited and going fast. For more information and to register visit cultivatingplace.com/events and scroll down to September 20th. Looking forward to meeting some of you great gardeners there.
One of the things I love about this conversation with Anna is that realization that sometimes we all know less about our most familiar landscapes than we do about landscapes far from our homes, but that in leaving home, we come to know it and appreciate it – and its landscapes and native plants – more deeply and more fully. Like Anna learning that one of the rugged Salvias she loved using in planting designs was native to an area just a short distance from her childhood home. And that lilies, peonies and alliums are all great garden plants native to the steppes of the world.
It kind of reminds us to take field trips close to home a little more often, to enjoy the botanical wonders of our own neighbor walks and our own backyard diversity as well as enjoying horticultural travel further afield.
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