Right now I’m liking the Helenium ‘Mardi Gras’ blooming in the Lamp Post Bed. This is a cultivar of the native Helenium autumnale, also known as Sneezeweed. As a general rule I plant straight species native plants, but now and then I feel like something different. This is one of those times.
It’s just that at this time of year I’d like a bit more in the red-orange color range, and there are a number of Helenium cultivars that fit the bill. Sneezeweed is yellow, thought it does have an unusual shape.
People familiar with my garden know that I have many, many, many yellow native wildflowers – what some botanists call the DYCs (Damn Yellow Composites) – Rudbeckias, Silphiums, Ratibidas, Coreopsis, etc. So I feel I’ve done my bit on that front.
We used to have a Helenium cultivar called ‘Short’n’Sassy’. It had orange flowers that bloomed for months, starting in June. Sadly it was short-lived. ‘Mardi Gras’ is more typical of Heleniums in that it starts blooming in late summer and into fall, but it also has been more durable.
Soon the blue-purple of the former asters will make themselves felt, and I am looking forward to that. But even then, I’d like some color contrast in addition to the yellow of the Goldenrods. Of course, this is one reason why I grow Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia) with its deep orange daisies. But the Heleniums provide a touch of red-orange more at mid-height.
Anyhow, as I peruse the online catalogs, that’s why I keep going back to various Helenium cultivars. Do you grow Heleniums in your garden? Do they make you happy?