Check out this sneezeweed or Helen's flower (Helenium autumnale 'Mardi Gras'). This is an early blooming variety of this perennial that tops out around 36" in height. There are other Helen's flower varieties that bloom in September. 'Mardi Gras' is a favorite for the multi-colored orange, yellow and red blooms. Note the pronounced flower center with petals arching downwards. This plant may need some staking but all sunny gardens or borders should include Helenium!
Today was one of our most productive days. The efficient grounds crew was all over the place. Larry and I went to a local garden center (box store variety) and accepted some wonderful donations that would have been tossed out that day. We may use some of these and/or will offer them to Rotary Gardens' volunteers. We're almost "planted" but can always use some extras and backups. These come in handy for quick color, timely replacements or volunteer bribery. Weeds were quivering in fear (at least in our Color Rooms garden) as Shirley, Kay, Geesje, Heidi and Judy worked their way methodically and stoically thru a nightmare. They collectively pulled out weeds that would form a pile the size of a VW bug. Very impressive. Mary and Roy worked their weeding kung fu in the shade garden and Christine came later to finish the assault. I was very pleased with the team effort today. I was able to spray RoundUp thru some of our worst areas and am starting to make plans for our September plant sale (Sept. 6-14 with a presale for volunteers/members on the 5th).
Above and to the right is our copper cheese vat planter with Oxalis 'Molten Lava', caladium and golden silver fleece vine (Fallopia aubertii 'Lemon Lace') which we use as an annual but is a tender perennial (not as vigorous as the straight species....which is "uber-vigorous"!). Note the perfect (unplanned) match of chartreuse with the obelisk paint color and the vine!
To the left is 'Golden Rocket' snapdragon (Antirhinnum) that is an All-America Selection and has wonderful heat tolerance. This snapdragon tops out over 24" and glows at dusk. The entire 'Rocket' series deserves consideration in the garden.
If you are interested in a sturdy, hardy perennial for part sun that likes damp soils, look in to meadowrues (Thalictrum sp.) in general. Meadowrues can take more sun but resent drying out. My favorite by far is 'Lavender Mist' meadowrue (Thalictrum rochebrunianum 'Lavender Mist') that achieves monumental heights from 6-9 feet tall and has dark purple stems and umbels of small lavender blooms with yellow centers. This is a long-blooming perennial. See the images below and realize you're not seeing the entire scale of the plant. Ours rarely need staking and we've grown them over 10' tall on occasion. The foliage is ornamental in my estimation as well. Remember Thalictrum when you visit the nurseries (local garden centers first!!!).