Plant of the Month – September

As the nights draw in and the season ends it can seem all doom and gloom in the garden – so time to look for the fun and hilarity in life.

Leaf collecting. A fairly innocuous pastime to many, but to a clumsy gardener with a heightened sense of the ridiculous it becomes the swirling dance of the wire rakes. You will need: a leaf rake, various scattered leaves and long boot laces where the loops have come free after being tucked into the boots. Sweep leaves elegantly and rhythmically with rake. Catch boot lace in tines of rake. Continue to pull vigorously at rake. Sweep yourself off your feet! A mixture of Torvill and Dean doing the Bolero and Stan Laurel trying to leave a room ( ).

However, if adding yourself to the leaf heap is not your idea of funny, think back to the golden days of summer and all the pretty flowers. In the last post you will see a tall sunflower partly screening the two ‘coy gardeners’. That is Helianthus ‘Sheila’s Sunshine’. It is a tall sunflower in the ‘Lemon Queen’ mode – 6′, self supporting, flowers August to October. Yellow can be anathema to some people but Sheila is a cool yellow, no brown or orange in her, in fact, there is a hint of green or lime in the centre. Quite classy not brassy. Our plants are 2 years old and still a bit leggy, they certainly haven’t begun expanding on the ‘Lemon Queen’ scale (some people complain ‘Lemon Queen’ can be too vigorous). If the plants fail to send up a greater number of stems next spring, I will Chelsea chop it so the few stems we have ‘break’ and give us more flowering heads. The plant will be shorter, probably by about a foot, but will give a bigger impact. We planted it next to Cortaderia selloana ‘Pumila’ a pampas grass. The blue of the stems and leaves and the wonderful plumes of the flowers look particularly good next to the pale lemony/green of the helianthus. Not a pairing for the small garden admittedly but another blue grass such as Panicum amarum ‘Dewey Blue’, which we planted this year on Sheila’s right, would do nicely, up right, very blue and not ’empire building’ as some grasses can be.

A nice autumnal picture to bring a smile to your face and if you’re like me and can only say ‘Sheila’s Sunshine’ with an Australian accent, then a giggle in the throat too.


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