HARDY PERENNIALS: HELENIUM

These are amongst the indispensibles, but so often one sees them in gardens looking starved and bedraggled. There are usually two reasons for this. Either they are old, over tall varieties, or have been left so long attented that the plants have become lacking freshness and vigour, producing more stems than the roots are able to support. The result is that the stem leaves shrivel by flowering time and the flowers themselves are small and soon fade.

The remedy is of course, to go in for shorter growing varieties if this is a fault, and otherwise to divide and replant after digging and enriching the soil. This is good practice with all Heleniums every 3-4 years and well worth the trouble. When dividing use only the outer younger shoots which easily break away from the rest—an operation best done in spring.

Heleniums provide some very rich colouring nowadays and amongst the newer varieties H. ‘Cold Fox’ is outstanding, with its streaky orange and flame-brown shading. It grows to about 3 feet, as do the very attractive and sturdily upright H. ‘Coppelia’. In the same height range and in the same June-August period H. ‘Mo.erheim Beauty’ is a favourite, with bronzy red flowers and with H. ‘Mahogany’ a similar colour but later flowering and H. ‘Golden Youth’ a warm deep yellow, there is a good selection at this intermediate height. For August-September flowering H. ‘Baudirek-tor Linne’ can be recommended as a tawny orange-red. H. ‘Bruno’ is close to being mahogany red, and H. ‘Butterpaf a rich yellow. These attain 4 feet which is plenty tall enough for any Helenium, for where hemmed in conditions prevail the taller they grow the more likely they are to need support since the flowers are carried on terminal heads, tending to make them top heavy if stems are weakened by lack of air and light.

The dwarfest Heleniums are the earliest to flower—and often the longest flowering.

H. ‘Crimson Beauty’ is more brown than red, but the flowers open on bushy leafy plants barely 2 feet high. H. ‘Wyndley’ has larger flowers in which orange yellow is streaked with reddish brown, also with a bushy habit little more than 2 feet. H. ‘pumilum magnificum’ is 2½ feet and the flowers are self coloured butter yellow. All these three begin early in June and continue well into August, in any good garden soil.

HELENIUM 'Gold Fox'

HELENIUM ‘Gold Fox’

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