Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Fall flowers: Helianthus angustifolia "First Light"

Helianthus angustifolia itself is known as Swamp sunflower, and is a US native... "First Light" is quite stunning, with hundreds of flowers on tall, strong stems. Tall, but not the ten feet of the species. This cultivar has been bred down (by a New Zealander) to a manageable four feet. I still think that's huge. The leaves are long and narrow. Perfect for a sunny spot (sorry...), and suitable for USDA Zones 4-9.

This perfect specimen was growing in the perennial border at Atlantic Nurseries on Long Island, and was about four feet tall. Well known relatives are Helianthus annuus, the common sunflower, and Helianthus tuberosus, the Jerusalem artichoke, which I remember my mom growing against a sunny wall in Bloemfontein.

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