As autumn lightly wraps her arms around summer, in advance of the firm squeeze yet to come, the daisy family reinforces its dominance on the garden. Marigolds, cosmos and zinnia continue to fill gardens with bloom, joined by rudbeckias, helenium and helianthus and soon my attention will be focused on the perennial asters (as was) that will be giving their first performance in the garden, along with a small collection of hardy chrysanthemums. Oh, and the dahlias I grew from seed collected from a dark-leaved, yellow dahlia – they were sown late and planted out and I can’t wait to see what colour they will be, especially as the parent was supposed to have white flowers in the first place!
Zinnias are very special to me. When I was young I was told they were not worth growing because they needed more heat than we can provide. I think the problem was always that they hate root disturbance and, although we were ‘blessed’ with a hot spot in July that probably suited them, they have been doing well so far this year and provide some blooms for cutting too. Nothing is a prim and perky.
A plant that has delighted me this month is Heliopsis ‘Summer Nights’ or, to give it its full name, Heliopsis helianthoides var. scabra ‘Summer Nights’. I grew this from seed last year and although it flowers the first year, it has been better this year with more, sturdier stems and earlier flowers. A seed strain, originally from North Creek Nurseries, USA, and distributed in Europe by Jelitto Seeds, it is supposed to have golden flowers but all my plants have blooms in burnt orange. I am pleased about this because it gives a richness to the display. Planted in front of cotinus ‘Grace’, one group of plants blends in nicely! I think this is a great plant, sturdy, 1m high, neat and packed with long-lasting blooms. So far it has not punished me for lack of staking. It needs full sun but does not seem fussy about soil. Even without flowers the foliage is dramatic.
Just starting to show itself is newcomer to the garden Bidens heterophylla (or B. aurea) ‘Hannays Lemon Drop’. This is a naturally occurring and domesticated form of Arizona beggarticks! It is a tall, slender, hardy perennial (think Verbena bonariensis) with narrow, deep green leaves and five ‘petalled’ yellow flowers that look as if they have been dipped in cream. I am sure I will return to this because it should have a long flowering period and it has only just started. It is supposed to be a bit of a spreader but so far it has the manners of a duchess and is a neat cylinder of stems.
Nearby Achillea ‘The Pearl’ shimmers beside a clump of yellow leucanthemum.