Heliopsis scabra

Like it or not, the plants of the family Compositae dominate the late summer garden. ‘The hosts of Helianthus and Heliopsis, with the Michaelmas Daisies, form the battalions of Autumn’, wrote E. A. Bowles, author of the classic My Garden trilogy. To ignore these hardy perennials is to have virtually no flowers in the summer-into-autumn period, and it is better to welcome them and mass them together in a blaze of red and gold, as in a Victorian cottage garden. Heliopsis, golden rod, rudbeckia, softened by Michaelmas daisies, with poppies and red hot pokers from other plant families, make a robust response to those discreet gardeners who settle at this time of year for late roses and foliage plants.

Heliopsis scabra, sometimes listed under H. helianihoides, is one of the best of the yellow composite plants, with single or double bright gold flowers, the fully double ones looking almost like giant zinnias. They are from 3 to 4 feet (90 to 120 cm) tall, need no staking, and can be cut for weeks on end. ‘Golden Plume’ is one of several good double varieties.

Plant 2 feet (60 cm) apart in groups in any garden soil, including quite dry soil.

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