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Posts Tagged ‘lemon queen sunflower’

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Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’

I have many plants in my garden that are very popular with bees and other pollinators. Pictured above is a favorite, the perennial Lemon Queen Sunflower (Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’), which blooms profusely in late summer.

I reserved one corner of the garden for a few plants that can be a bit unruly, but are beloved by pollinators. I call it Bee Corner. There are an assortment of monarda varieties. Monardas can be a bit rambling, and it is welcome to spread out at will here. There’s also some agastache ‘Black Adder’, which did very well this summer.

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Bee Corner in September

New to the corner are wild quinine (Parthenium integrifolium) and hairy mountain mint (Pycnanthemum pilosum). They’re both North American natives that attract pollinators and have settled in well. Next year, they can take engage in a turf war with the monardas.

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Wild Quinine

All comers can feast without fear of poisoning. I never use pesticides of any kind on my plants. The plants are all strictly on their own, thrive or die, and mostly, they thrive.

Lately, Colony Collapse Disorder has been in the news, and the rise in the use of neonicotinoid pesticides and fungicides is suspected as a contributing cause. The jury is still out on the exact causes of honey bee die-offs and because of their economic importance, honey bees are getting a lot of attention. One thing is for certain though. It’s not just honey bees that are affected by rampant pesticide use.

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Clearwing Hummingbird Moth at Monarda

As Bridget Stutchbury points out in Silence of the Songbirds, the banning of DDT didn’t end the threat of pesticides to species such as birds:

We are as hooked on pesticides today as we were in the 1960s, when, in her seminal book Silent Spring, Rachel Carson warned us of the rain of poison that was bringing death to our waters and killing thousands of birds…. In many ways, birds are in greater danger today than in the 1950s because modern pesticides are more lethal. Older OC pesticides (organochlorines, fat soluble pesticides that can be stored in the fatty tissues of animals) were replaced in the 1970s and 1980s by “safer” pesticides like organophosphates and carbamates. These pesticides are safer because they break down within a few days and are not stored in the body, and so do not accumulate in the food chain. But many, like monocrotophos, are vastly more toxic to birds (and people) than were the OC pesticides. Modern insecticides are designed to kill their target swiftly and then break down before “non-target” animals come into contact with the poison. This is easier said than done. Birds can be exposed to these insecticides via direct contact with sprayed plants, by eating insects and fruits in areas that have been recently sprayed, or by eating pesticides that are applied to the ground in the form of granules….We have traded persistence for toxicity.

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Hairy Mountain Mint

Many insecticides are lethal to birds because they are neurotoxins and interfere with the nerve impulses inside the bodies of animals. They disrupt the signal that must jump from neuron to neuron via chemical messengers, causing severe shaking, then paralysis and asphyxiation. Pesticides that are effective in killing insects are also very toxic to birds and other animals, including humans.

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Agastache ‘Black Adder’

You can help reduce the use of agricultural pesticides by buying organic foods. You may feel that buying organic items such as bananas is not worthwhile because you peel the bananas anyway. But by buying organic bananas you support the reduction of the pesticide burden where the bananas were grown. You can also step more lightly on the land by buying other earth-friendly products such as shade-grown coffee. For more on threats to birds and ways you can make a difference, Silence of the Songbirds is a great read.

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Bee Corner in August

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We enjoyed a pleasant weekend, but Monday and Tuesday have been overcast and drizzly. On the plus side, flowers can really shine on a dull day. While even bright flowers sometimes look washed out under intense sun, on gray days they make their own glow. Here are a few of the flowers that caught my eye today.

Pictured above are the small orange flowers of jewelweed (Impatiens capensis). It’s a native that grows quite vigorously in damp areas around here. It seeds about in the garden and I mostly pull it out, but left this one plant because jewelweed is loved by hummingbirds.

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I usually plant a few annuals each spring, and by late in the summer, when the garden begins to look a bit tired, they add a boost of colour. Lavatera ‘Silver Cup’ is a pretty, clear pink. For brilliance, though, it is hard to beat zinnias.

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The rudbeckias are reliable late-summer bloomers. This is rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldstrum’. You can just make out a little yellow flower crab spider near the centre of the photo.

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A few late daylilies are opening the last of their flowers. Wild Child (Salter 2002) was new this year and I enjoyed its colourful blooms. I was sad to see its last flower today, a bit bedraggled by the rain.

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Golden Tycoon still has a few buds left and stands up well to the rain.

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The angelica (Angelica gigas) is just coming into bloom and is very popular with bumblebees.

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My Lemon Queen sunflower (Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’) is also just starting her show and will soon be attracting crowds of bees.

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Here are the leaves of annual coleus competing with the flowers for attention.

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This echinacea, ‘Now Cheesier’ struggled last year. I moved it this spring and it is doing better in its new location.

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Finally, here’s a garden variety of a native wildflower, Joe Pye Weed. This is Eupatorium ‘Phantom’.

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As we move into fall, the garden begins to take on an overripe, languid feel, an aging beauty going to seed, in this case, quite literally. However, it is still a beautiful place to stroll and take in the sights.

Lemon Queen sunflower (Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’) dominates the central island. I didn’t get around to staking the Queen earlier in the season, and now she is so well-attended by bumblebees, I am content to let her tumble out over her lesser neighbours.

Lemon Queen walk

The ornamental grasses are taking on a starring role in the border as their seedheads mature.

Lemon Queen and Grasses

My favorite is probably Redhead Fountaingrass (Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Redhead’), which has already been magnificent for weeks.

Pennisetum Alopecuroides 'Redhead'

Its little cousin Piglet (Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Piglet’) has a softer look, with gently arching stems.

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In addition to airy seedheads, the blades of switchgrass add colour interest. Here is Shenandoah (Panicum virgatum ‘Shenandoah’) touched with scarlet.

Panicum virgatum 'Shenandoah'

The various ligularia species have been brightening shady corners since midsummer. Here is Desdemona (Ligularia dentata ‘Desdemona’).

Ligularia dentata 'Desdemona'

Of course, fall is the season for asters. Here is Pink Bouquet (Aster dumosus ‘Pink Bouquet’) backed by Silver Brocade artemisia (Artemisia stelleriana ‘Silver Brocade’).

Aster dumosus 'Pink Bouquet' and Artemisia 'Silver Brocade'

By autumn, the annuals have matured and are adding touches of brillant colour. The caryopteris, or bluebeard, is adding a pretty blue and the deep wine-cerise of Angelica is outstanding with phlox and sedum. Here is a selection of other garden highlights.

To visit other September gardens, please drop by May Dream’s Garden Bloggers’ Day roundup, linked here.

Cleome

Cleome

Caryopteris x clandonensis 'Longwood Blue'

Caryopteris x clandonensis ‘Longwood Blue’

Angelica gigas

Angelica gigas

Rainbow Knockout Rosa 'Radcor'

Rainbow Knockout Rosa ‘Radcor’

Calamintha nepeta 'Blue Cloud'

Calamintha nepeta ‘Blue Cloud’

Echinacea 'Green Jewel'

Echinacea ‘Green Jewel’

Black Adder Agastache and Hosta Krossa Regal

Black Adder Agastache and Hosta Krossa Regal

Anemone hupehensis 'Pink Saucer'

Anemone hupehensis ‘Pink Saucer’

Joe Crow

Joe Crow

Woodland Walk

Woodland Walk

Tamarack Walk

Tamarack Walk

Shade Walk

Shade Walk

Japanese Painted ferns, hostas and Tiger Eye sumac with Amur Maple

Japanese Painted ferns and hostas underplanting Amur Maple with Tiger Eye Sumac in background.

Royal Standard Hostas

Royal Standard Hostas

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Wow, the middle of August! Hard to believe, although we can’t complain that we haven’t had plenty of hot summer weather this year. My garden is at its peak in July, when the 140 varieties of daylilies are in bloom. There are just a few late daylilies blooming their last blooms now.

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Here’s Flaming Wildfire, so brilliant and intense it seems to glow. And below is Cameroons, a 1984 Munson introduction, showing off the washed eye pattern shared by many of the Munsons.

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By August, there are hints of autumn as the ornamental grasses begin to put out their seed heads and the bright gold of rudbeckias dominates.

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Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldstrum’ is in full bloom. Named Perennial of the Year way back in 1999, it is a very reliable standard for the late summer garden.

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Here’s Goldstrum anchoring a planting with its taller cousin, Rudbeckia nitida ‘Herbstonne’ (Autumn Sun). Behind Herbstonne is the very tall grass Miscanthus giganteus, Giant Maiden Grass. To the left of Herbstonne is a tall switchgrass, Panicum virgatum ‘Thundercloud’. Between the Goldstrum clumps you can see the reddish seedheads of Redhead Fountain Grass (Pennisetum ‘Redhead’). At the right of the photo are stems of Willow-leaved Sunflower (Helianthus salicifolium), which has yet to bloom.

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My Cup Plant (Silphium perfoliatum) has really matured this year and is putting on a terrific display. Some of the stems are drooping, which allows you to see visiting pollinators. The sprays of yellow flowers are mostly held so high, well above my head, that it is hard to admire insect activity up there.

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Silphium is a native plant and quite appreciated by pollinators.

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This spring, I split a clump of Lemon Queen sunflower (Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’), and thought it would take a year or two for the new clump to take hold. However, it apparently loves its new home and the hot summer we’ve experienced, and has filled out enthusiastically. Here’s the newly-established clump, just coming into bloom, embracing a bird house post with Phantom Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium ‘Phantom’) in the foreground.

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Another brilliant gold bloomer is Golden Dwarf Goldenrod (Solidago ‘Golden Dwarf’). It has taken me a while to get used to seeing goldenrod in the garden. It is a prolific native wildflower (aka weed) in these parts, and I have had to suppress an urge to yank it out of the garden every time I pass! It is actually quite well-behaved and its brilliant yellow is set off by an assortment of pink and purple phlox plants.

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Here’s a newer phlox, just introduced to the garden last year. In addition to pretty flowers, Phlox paniculata ‘Nora Leigh’ offers interesting variegated foliage.

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Phlox produces a wonderful blaze of colour that sets off other perennials beautifully. Here’s a hollyhock backed with phlox.

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And here’s Anemone ‘Honorine Jobert’ set off by phlox.

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Geranium ‘Rozanne’ was chosen as Perennial of the Year in 2008 and is a deserving winner. It has proved drought resistant and hardy, and blooms over a long period with no attention from the gardener. Here’s Rozanne tumbling over the edge of a path.

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Kniphofia ‘Shining Sceptre’ was new this spring. It settled in well and wasn’t disturbed by drought conditions. I was a bit surprised and pleased to see this attractive preview of the future clump of sceptres I’m hoping for. This winter will be its first test for hardiness.

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Most of the echinaceas have been in bloom for a while, but Echinacea ‘Green Jewel’ is just hitting its stride now.

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I’m very fond of the agastaches, mostly because they are beloved by pollinators of every stripe. Unfortunately, I haven’t found many of the varieties I’ve tried to be very hardy here. The sturdiest has been Agastache ‘Blue Fortune’, shown here with Coreopsis ‘Sweet Dreams’ in the foreground and Echinacea ‘Prima Donna’ to the left.

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They’re not flowers, but I couldn’t resist including the showy berries of this pokeweed (Phytolacca acinosa).

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I don’t really think of hostas as flowering plants, but their wands of mauve or white flowers can be quite attractive. Here’s a clump of a small, unidentified hosta with violet blooms, backed by Hosta ‘Ryan’s Big One’, with an hydrangea bush in the background.

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Thank you for visiting the Willow House garden! If you would like to tour other gardens, visit May Dreams Gardens for more August Bloom Day links.

In closing, I’ll leave you with this Hummingbird Clearwing Moth (Hemaris thysbe) visiting Monarda ‘Cambridge Scarlet’.

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It’s just about time to harvest the Jerusalem Artichokes. They’re reputed to be at their best after the tall stems have been killed back by a heavy frost or two. Jerusalem Artichokes, as is often noted, are neither from Jerusalem nor artichokes. They’re actually a sunflower variety, helianthus tuberosus. There are 82 species of sunflowers (genus Helianthus), all native to North America. Of these, 38 are perennials (Wikipedia). Jerusalem Artichokes are one of four types of sunflowers growing in my garden.

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Probably the best known sunflower is the annual variety. Most years, I plant a few sunflower seeds. There are plenty to choose from, tall sunflowers, dwarf sunflowers, plants with rusty-red flowers, pollenless flowers for cutting. This year, the birds did the planting and an eye-catching array of tall, sunny plants grew up around the bird feeder.

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After the annuals, the most showy of the sunflowers is Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’. This hybrid perennial is a fabulous addition to the border. It reaches about six feet tall and forms a clump about 4 feet wide. The stems are surprisingly strong, and this year they stood tall for most of the summer before gently arching over to display a dense array of attractive, yellow flowers. The flowers were much beloved by pollinators.

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I first saw Willow-leaf sunflowers at Lost Horizons nursery and had to have this plant in my garden. It is most notable, not for its flowers, but for its long, long stems which are lined with very unsunflower-like narrow leaves. In fact, it looks rather like a giant lily stem, quite fascinating.

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Those stems just keep going and going. Here’s Ponygirl beside the Willow-leaf Sunflower (Helianthus salicifolius). It does get a display of attractive flowers at the top of that long stem late in the summer. Where stems had bowed over, flowers also sprouted along the stem.

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And finally, there are the Jerusalem Artichokes, sometimes called, more appropriately, sunchokes. It’s said that once you introduce these tubers to your garden, the only way to free yourself of them is to move. I have mine contained in a raised bed. These are also remarkably tall plants. Here’s Ponygirl again, to illustrate that point. They are the last of my sunflowers to bloom.

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Yesterday, I dug up a few of the tubers to use in soup. They’re very knobby, gnarled roots, somewhat like ginger roots. They have a very mild, slightly nutty taste and are reputed to be rich in inulin, and thus recommended as a potato substitute for diabetics. I don’t know how factual that, or the other claims made for the benefits of Jerusalem Artichokes might be. They are reported to be high in potassium and iron and linked with good intestinal health due to prebiotic (bacteria promoting) properties. I added them to squash to make sunchoke-squash soup.

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Postscript:
Here’s the sunchoke-squash soup, topped with saut├ęd mushrooms, shredded cheese and sunflower seeds. It was quite tasty, a little bit different than squash soup.

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Wow, can it really be a month since the August Bloom Day? Can it really be September? It can and it is and the garden is lush and full, moving into its final display before frost ends the show for another year. There is still plenty to see. Welcome to my Eastern Ontario Zone 4a USDA garden. Let me take you for a little tour and we’ll enjoy some of the highlights together.

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Near our front door, the white bottle-brush blooms of snakeroot (Cimicifuga ramosa ‘Atropurpurea’) stand tall beside the curious ropes of the annual Love-Lies-Bleeding (Amaranthus cauditis). Annuals that reach their peak just as many perennials are dying back can really enliven the fall garden. Certainly, Love-Lies-Bleeding has both a catchy name and an eye-catching form.

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To the other side of the doorway is our ornamental pond, where the pink impatiens have filled out and brighten the shade.

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The large island bed is edged by Coreopsis grandiflora ‘Mayfield Giant’. I have several coreopsis species, but I have to say this reliable bloomer is a favorite. I generally prefer stems that stand upright, but the sprawling nature of Mayfield sets off the grasses it fronts in a pleasingly natural manner.

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The grasses come into their own in the fall. Behind the coreopsis is Panicum virgatum ‘Shenandoah’, which features wine-red leaf tips and reddish flower heads. When the grasses go to seed, they will feed wintering birds.

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Interplanted with ‘Shenandoah’ is Panicum virgatum ‘Prairie Sky’, a blue grass. The grasses are at their finest when bejeweled with tiny dew or rain drops. Echinacia purpurea ‘Ruby Star’ looks good with both grasses. I never cut back dead flower heads until the spring. The echinacea and coreopsis seeds will provide another winter food source for wildlife.

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A pair of Northern Sea Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium) did well this summer. This moderately sized plant does well in a shady section of the garden and features interesting seedheads in the fall.

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Agastache ‘Heatwave’ has been a fabulous performer this summer. It is backed by Helenium ‘Helena’ in yellow and rust red. To the left, you can just make out the tall stems of Andropogon gerardii (Big Bluestem), which doesn’t have seed stalks yet. To the right is Miscanthus gigantus (Giant Maiden Grass). The plumes in the centre belong to an unnamed Miscanthus species.

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Blooming amongst the tall grasses is Rudbeckia nitida ‘Herbstonne’, shown below with a Monarch visitor.

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Buddleja, or Butterfly Bush, is considered an invasive species in some areas, but there is not much risk of that here. This Buddleja davidii ‘Honeycomb’ struggles from year to year, and this spring, I considered digging out the rather unimpressive shoot. However, I let it be, and I am gratified to see that butterflies are finding it attractive, not to mention bumblebees.

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A nice patch of Chelone obliqua (Turtlehead) is offering up its pink blooms to bumblebees too, and it is fascinating to watch the bees disappear into the tubular blooms and then reappear a second later.

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Perhaps the star of the late summer garden this year has been this sunflower, Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’. If I were to stake it, the stems would be 6 to 7 feet tall. But I let is gently bow down and the huge bouquet of flowers is thus held at a perfect eye level. I wouldn’t want to miss viewing the host of pollinators that this beauty attracts.

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Along a shady path, Geranium ‘Rozanne’ and Anemone hupehensis ‘Pink Saucer’ are mingling. This geranium has been a wonder this summer, offering up its beautiful blue flowers over a remarkably long period.

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Here’s another blue, Caryopteris x clandonensis ‘Longwood Blue’, or bluebeard. I had no experience with caryopteris before I purchased this plant. It wasn’t until I travelled to Longwood Gardens that I made the connection between my caryopteris and the magnificent Pennsylvania garden, where I was delighted to view the “Caryopteris Allee”.

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Of course, no fall garden would be complete without asters. This is Aster dumosus ‘Pink Bouquet’.

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Likewise, sedums are also great for fall colour. This is Sedum ‘Carl’.

sedum 'carl'

Although there are still other interesting sights to see, I’ll end our tour with this final plant, Phytolacca acinosa, or pokeberry, which is at its best when its colourful berries put on their show.

You can visit other gardens through GBBD Central at May Dreams Gardens. Enjoy!

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