Wildflower Wednesday: Helianthus salicifolius ‘Table Mountain’

Helianthus salicifolius ‘Table Mountain’ sunflower I found on the clearance rack at our local nursery.

A couple of years ago, about this time in summer, on a rack way in the back of my local nursery, I found an interesting plant. It had coarse, willowy leaves, and I think it must hard to be both coarse and willowy. It had healthy foliage and was doing its best in a container so I felt a bit sorry for it and brought it home. Helianthus salicifolius ‘Table Mountain’ sunflower is a cultivar of two native, H. salicifolius so I still consider it a wildflower. From the Missouri Botanical Garden, “It is the result of a controlled cross-pollination that took place in Auckland, New Zealand in 1993 between Helianthus ‘Golden Pyramid’ (female) and Helianthus ‘Autumn Queen’ (male).”

Table Mountain sunflower is a bit of a flopper, but it leans upon ‘Wanda’ phlox. Neither seems to mind the other.

Like all sunflowers and daisies, ‘Table Mountain’ is part of my favorite plant family, Asteraceae. In spite of heat and drought, it blooms steadily each summer. Although it grew in bulk and circumference, it has never spread by seed. I have two plants, and they just hang out in their part of the lower gardens.

The people who measure such things list ‘Table Mountain’ as growing 12-16.” Mine is about two feet in height. It thrives in full sun, and we have plenty of sun each summer. It is drought resistent. It grows in hardiness zones 5-9. It attracts pollinators, no surprise since it sports daisy-like flowers.

I’m pretty sure this is Syrphus ribesii, the hover fly, but I may be wrong. It flew away before I had a chance to inspect it more closely.

If you can’t find it locally like I did, you can buy it at Bluestone Perennials and Forestfarm.

My meadow is spreading like my middle-aged waistline. It seems that as the garden and I mature, I am more interested in planting something closer to the prairie, especially as we move downhill from the house. I’ve placed all the roses, up where I can watch them for any symptoms of Rose Rosette Disease. RRD is like a shadow overtaking the rose landscape in my garden and my state. I’m not too worried because, although I love roses, I love so many plants. I just grow what works.

My meadow, unaffected by disease, has spread from one bed to two, maybe three by this summer’s end. Who knows?

Easy to grow, polite and never overreaching, Table Mountain sunflower is a sunny bargain if there ever was. If you went to your local nursery during the summer doldrums, what do you think you would find on that table, way in the back? You just never know.

Gail from Clay and Limestone sponsors Wildflower Wednesday each month. Head over to her site and see what other wildflowers peeps are growing. Maybe you’ll find something you want to grow too.


How About A Sunday Stroll?

Echinacea 'Pink Double Delight'
Echinacea ‘Pink Double Delight’

Good morning. Grab your coffee or tea and and please join me for a stroll through my little corner of paradise. I’ve always pictured heaven as a garden, and I hope that the good Lord will let me work in His; but then, I wonder . . . what would I do if every leaf and flower were perfect? What if there were no weeds? What if the roses were always in bloom and never needed deadheading?

How could I relax in such a place?

These are the kind of things I ponder about as I stroll. Then, I shrug my shoulders, sip my tea and leave it up to God. It’s out of my hands anyway.

Today is a very busy day, so we should meander in our imaginations for awhile before it begins. Not only is it Father’s Day, it’s also Sunday Stroll, Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day and Green Thumb Sunday. For all of these blogging events, I’m sharing more daylily blooms, along with other garden lovelies. Isn’t Echinacea ‘Pink Double Delight’ (left) adorned in the prettiest frock? Check out those lower petals with their pinked edges. Can you stand it?

Hemerocallis 'Red Suspenders'
Hemerocallis ‘Red Suspenders’

I bought ‘Red Suspenders’ (Webster 1990) (right) from my COHS friend, Stephen. It took off in only one season. ‘Red Suspenders’ is an unusual form; crispate. Crispate refers to the pinch at the end of the petals. As this plant ages, and summer temperatures rise, it should crispate even more. Unusual forms are not the same thing as spiders. The spider aficionados are very clear about this. I have some spider daylilies, but none are camera ready today. If you’d like to see some, go to Tinker’s Gardens Forum and do a search of their database. There are many daylily classifications and descriptions, but I won’t bore you with them all. If you’re interested in terms and other information, please visit the American Hemerocallis website.

Hemerocallis 'Killer'
Hemerocallis ‘Killer’ (Stamile 1992)

I have a thing for red and purple daylilies. It is hard to capture the purple ones (I almost wrote on film, but that would show my age, wouldn’t it?) because they have a lot of red pigment, and often turn out redder than they are in photos. ‘Killer’ (Stamile 1992,) shown in profile, is a favorite of mine. My friend, Wanda, gave it to me a couple of years ago. I don’t just like it because it’s purple. The scapes (stems) and blossoms have tremendous substance. Can you see how well it’s holding up to the rain? It is very hard to hybridize reds and purples that are thick enough to tolerate sun and heat because daylily blooms are comprised of mostly water. A hint: If you want lots of blooms, feed your daylily with a high nitrogen fertilizer in the spring and water it heavily as the scapes form.

\'Bella Lugosi\' with \'Reflection in Time\' in back
Hemerocallis ‘Bella Lugosi’ with H. ‘Reflections in Time’ behind.

At right, are ‘Bela Lugosi’ (C. Hanson 1995) with ‘Reflections in Time’ (Salter 2002) behind it. Bela is another great purple that holds up well in the sun. I planted it next to a brick red/orange daylily and another red one. They’re in the center of this triangle-shaped bed to draw the eye to the middle. I surrounded them with blue and yellow flowers to soften some of the bright color.

Tiered gardens on the right.
Tiered borders on the right.

This border is part of the view we see to our left as we walk out the rear French doors. HH and I finished these gardens last summer and nearly killed ourselves shoveling soil. I’m pleased with how the plants filled in, although I’m running out of room again, so I’m starting to cull some of my flowers, including some daylilies.

Once we walk down the steps and turn to the right, we see this allee filled with pink and yellow daylilies because the Diva said she wanted a place to take her wedding photos someday. (Teen girls dream of these things. I remember.)

allée of pink and yellow daylilies.
Allée of pink and yellow daylilies with Tightwad Red crapemyrtle shrubs.

In addition to the pink and yellow daylilies, I’ve also planted some with love and wedding themes. I don’t like all of the daylilies in this bed, so I’m going to be moving some in September to make the color flow better and look more graceful. As you know, pink and yellow are the Diva’s favorite colors.

Whenever I share this garden, I always think of the allée of apple trees Martha Stewart planted for her daughter’s wedding when Alexis was born. Years ago, in an essay for the magazine, Martha wrote that when her daughter chose to marry elsewhere, Martha cut down all of the trees. For me, that essay was a cautionary tale about expectations. Whether the Diva ends up using her allée or not isn’t important. However, choosing the plants with her was.