Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The early beginnings of Great Fall Color


While many perennials in the garden are beginning to look a bit weary, a few plants are just coming into all their glory. 

Helenium is one of them.



I have always had a few Heleniums in my garden, but sadly, I don't think I have ever 
 given them a chance to really shine. Something I'd like to rectify in future!

Helenium in a public park in Brampton

I have come to realize, by way of example, that Heleniums look best planted in large groups in combination with tall grasses or other late blooming perennials. 

In this public space, Helenium looks terrific mixed with Phlox, yellow Rudbeckia, and blue-grey Russian Sage.

Helenium in a public park in Brampton

Sneezeweed or Helenium autumnale is a North American native plant that can often be 
found growing in wild, damp meadows.

Larkwhistle Gardens

As you can see here, many varieties of Helenium are skyscrapers that soar to a considerable height.


Larkwhistle Gardens

Heleniums are happiest in rich moist soil, but they will tolerate a somewhat sandier soil and will even adjust to somewhat dryer conditions once established.

Helenium 'Short 'n' Sassy'

This fall to add to my small collection of Helenium, I am adding a few of newer 
cultivars that are shorter in height. 


Helenium 'Short 'n' Sassy': This compact variety of helenium has orange and gold petals with a deep brown centre. Full sun and moist soil are best. Height: 30-45 cm (12-18 inches), Spread: 40-50 cm (16-20 inches). USDA Zones: 4-9.


Helenium autumnale Mariachi 'Fuego': Another compact variety of helenium, 'Fuego' has orange-red petals and a golden halo around a deep, coffee-colored centre. Full sun and moist soil are best. Height: 40-50 cm (16-20 inches), Spread: 50-60 cm (20-30 inches). USDA Zones: 3-9.



I also brought home a piece of a tall yellow Helenium from my Mom's garden. Fingers crossed it takes!

Sedum 'Maestro' is super tall and reaches a height of 60-75 cm (23-29 inches).

Another group of plants that really comes into its own at this time of year are tall Sedums. 


Sedum telephium 'Matrona': This Sedum has sage green foliage with reddish stems and is fairly tall.  Full sun. Height: 60 -70 cm ( 23- 28 inches) Spread: 45-60 cm (18-23 inches). USDA Zones: 3-9.

In early June, I usually cut my tall Sedums by a third. I find they produce more, smaller flower heads and flop less as a result.

Propagating Sedums is fairly simple I've found: just stick your June cuttings in damp soil and keep them watered and out of direct sun until they have rooted. What could be easier! New generations of my original Sedum telephium 'Matrona' can be found all over my garden. 

It is also nice to add a few new Sedums to the mix each year. 



Sedum spectabile 'Neon': This Sedum has light green foliage and magenta-pink flowers.  Full sun. Like all Sedums, it is attractive to butterflies. Height: 45-60 cm (18-23 inches) Spread: 45-60 cm (18-23 inches). USDA Zones: 2-9


Sedum telephium 'Munstead Dark Red': This is an older variety that has a dark rose flower. It can be floppy in moist rich sites. Height: 45-60 cm (18-23 inches) Spread: 45-60 cm (18-23 inches). USDA Zones: 3-9.


So far, I am really liking this low mounding cultivar called 'Pure Joy' that I purchased in the spring of this year.

Sedum 'Pure Joy': has a low, rounded mound of blue-green foliage and pale pink flowers. Grow it in poor to average well drained soil. Full sun. Height: 20-30 cm (10-12 inches) Spread: 45-50 cm (18-20 inches). USDA Zones: 4-9.


Beside soft pink 'Pure Joy' is the Sedum Sunsparkler 'Dazzleberry' (you can see 'Dazzleberry' peaking into the picture on the lower right).

'Dazzleberry' has flopped a bit and has been held up by the surrounding Lamium (it gets lots of sun so perhaps my soil is too rich and causes it to flop). It's purplish grey foliage has made it a perfect companion plant for Penstemon 'Dark Towers' and mauve flowered Veronica 'Eveline' in my front garden.

Sedum Sunsparkler 'Dazzleberry': has purplish grey foliage and raspberry red flowers in fall. Again poor to average well drained soil. Full sun. Height: 15-20 cm (6-8 inches) Spread: 30-45 cm (12-18 inches). USDA Zones: 4-9.


So what do you think?

Are Helenium's outrageous colors too much for your garden? 
What's your experience with tall Sedums? 

24 comments:

  1. Hello Jennifer! I've not been around much lately, but couldn't resist wandering through your lovely gardens again :) Such beautiful late summer flowers. I have some Helenium blooming under my living room window. It's really filling out nicely now after a few years. I loved hearing (and seeing) of your visit back home too. Loved your tale of your dad's swim. My dad's always saying "the mind is willing, but the body is weak". Now I'm having real trouble getting him into my truck for outings when I visit him (his knees are so weak). It's not easy having elderly parents far from you, and I understand the worry you're going through. I hope between you and your sisters you're able to keep a distant watch over them. Your mom's friend sure does have a beautiful garden!! Enjoy your week. Wendy

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  2. Beautiful photos - isn't the common name Sneezeweed??? I love the colours.

    Happy September Jennifer!

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    1. Yes, the common name is Sneezeweed, which is an odd sort of common name. It does seem to suggest that Helenium is not a great plant for those of us with air born allergies. I have never noticed however, any sort of reaction to the plant's pollen.

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  3. Yep....I could use some of those Heleniums in my garden stat! Goodness they about knocked me over in your shots! I love them as I am always trying to make notes of plants that have a good show right about now. Thank you for this post Jennifer and a wonderful week to you!!! Nicole xoxo

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  4. I love these flowers! I have more Sedum & just love it & how easy it is to grow! I only have one tall one. I can't express how much I appreciate & love your posts & receiving them: I share them with my gardening friends! KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK & THAN YOU!

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    1. Thanks for the encouragement Bonnie!

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  5. Yes, I think Heleniums are just what my garden needs at the moment to brighten it up! They look lovely in the gardens you visited. I have a few Sedums, I must try cutting them back in the spring to stop them flopping everywhere!

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  6. I think flowers like Heleniums are like the last fanfare before the colourless season sets in. OK I like autumn and winter, grey, moss green, browns... But, its nice with late colour which then fades as days get shorter and wetter. There's a beauty with decay. I live Sedums, and they are so important for pollinators at the end of the season. Everyone should have at least one. ☺

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  7. I just love the warmth of helenium's, they scream autumn to me. Some really beautiful images of them here.xxx

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  8. I have Matrona, Pure Joy, Autumn Fire, Dazzleberry, Vera Jameson and a few other small ones. I love the look of Neon but I have seen it flop all over the place. I am going to have to look for the Heleniums, great colors!

    Eileen

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  9. These are fantastic photos. This flower captivates me and now I know what it's called. I will be on the lookout to find seeds to plant next year.

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  10. I have tried them a few times in my 'golden' border and love them but they never seem to come back after winter - the burnt orange colour I find particularly attractive- seeing them en masse like that is a wonderful sight - if only I had bigger borders!

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  11. Awwww, your Heleniums are stunning, Jennifer! Yep, they say autumn to me too. :)
    Both Sedum and Helenium are quite popular in Scottish gardens.

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  12. The helleniums in Brampton park look particularly attractive. As you say, the effect is produced by by what grows next to them. I started some helleniums from seed this Spring and just put the plants in a border, I look forward to seeing what mix of colours I get. It was also interesting to see pictures taken in the Bruce Peninsua where I live.

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    1. Sadly, Larkwhistle on the Bruce Peninsula is no longer open to the public. It is certainly one of Canada's most beautiful gardens.

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  13. Your late summer garden is stunning, Jennifer! I don't have helleniums, but I grow lots of sedums. My favorite at the time of year is Autumn Joy. P. x

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  14. I love helleniums and have added a few to my garden this year. The combinations in your photos at various gardens are rather stunning. As for Sedums, well, I've got rid of so many this year (as you say, it's all too easy to propagate them), but the ones that are left are starting to bloom and look lovely.

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  15. As always, such beautiful photographs, Jennifer!
    Our Heleniums are about the only thing that looks good in our gardens now. Everything else, really does look like it's ready for a rest.

    Wishing you a wonderful weekend!

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  16. I don't have enough moisture for helenium but have lots of sedum. I ordered Dazzleberry but the nursery accidentally sent Dynomite, which is identical. I don't think heleniums are too strongly colored at all. They are full of fall colors and are incredible with rudbeckia.

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  17. I'll admit I've looked at heleniums before but never had much love for them. It's the orange tones I think, I find them so hard to pair with other colours. I do like that they bloom in fall though. I'm realizing my garden has some big gaps in fall blooms.

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  18. Good timing, Jennifer--as I look around my garden these days, I am noticing places that could definitely use some punches of color. I've always intended to plant some Helenium, though I finally have some of the natives this year; you've given me another good reason to finally get around to adding some to the garden. I always cut back my sedum in June, too, but some years they still flop--I wonder if the amount of moisture makes a difference. A couple of years ago, I added some 'Vera Jameson,' a low-growing, burgundy-purplish sedum, and I love it at the front of a border.

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  19. Two of my favorite fall plants...couldn't live without the heleniums.

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  20. I know I sound like a broken record, but your posts are always so inspiring and your photos are SO gorgeous. I don't have any in my garden - orange and red in general are not my colors of choice for flowers, but they're beautiful and I could sneak in some yellow and maybe some of the darker red ones. Especially this time of year when the pastels are definitely waning. That first phlox looks like 'Laura.' I just got a piece of it from my mom and am anxious to find a home for it somewhere in the yard. Great post!

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  21. 2014 will be the year of the Helenium for me. My personal confusion between Helieopsis, Helianthus and Helenium ended; I saw an inspired combination planting of Helenium 'Mardis Gras' and Lilium 'Pizzazz' at the Denver Botanic Garden; and most importantly, I've encountered so many wild ones ringing the shores with yellow in the places I like to kayak.

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