Helenium ‘Sahin’s Early Flowerer’
by Kate van Heel
One of my favourite gardening books is Christopher Lloyd’s ‘Succession Planting for Adventurous Gardeners’. I love the photos of his garden showing the same border at different times of the year. How wonderful to be able to have borders that look fabulous all through the year! However, for mere mortals such as myself it is not so easy to achieve, which is why I look for perennials that keep on flowering for a long period of time. Helenium ‘Sahin’s Early Flowerer’ is one such plant. With streaked orange petals opening from bronze-red buds finally maturing to yellow, it produces a colourful and endless display from midsummer through autumn.
‘Sahin’s Early Flowerer’ was awarded an AGM in the 1999-2001 trial despite being very new.It was found growing in Kaas Sahin’s (a Dutch nurseryman) trial garden and came to notice because it flowered for a much longer period than the other seedlings; it had begun in June and was still going into November when it was given to Bob Brown of Cotswold Garden Flowers, who began to sell it the following year.
Helenium is a genus of about 40 species of annuals and deciduous herbaceous perennials in the Asteraceae family native to the Americas. They bear yellow, red, or orange daisy-like flowers. A number of these species have the common name sneezeweed, based on the former use of their dried leaves in making snuff, inhaled to cause sneezing that would supposedly rid the body of evil spirits. The name possibly means Helen-Flower after Helen of Troy, and legend has it these plants sprang from her tears.
Like most plants in the daisy family, Heleniums prefer full sun but will be fine in part shade. Also, like many daisies, Heleniums still look great when the petals fall because the seed heads are like little globe structures on the end of stems.
Helenium ‘Sahin’s Early Flowerer’ is called “The best and earliest Helenium for garden use” by Val Bourne. She suggests planting it alongside other vibrant coloured flowers such as Crocosmias or Dahlias, or with dark blue flowers such as navy blue Aconitum ‘Spark’s Variety’.
In my garden I have it planted with Crocosmia ‘Walcroy’ (sold as Walberton Yellow) and Persicaria amplexicaulis ‘Dikke Floskes’. In another section it was planted alongside the tall Crocosmia masoniorum but it was time for a change so, with plenty of time on my hands this spring, out came the crocosmia and in its place has been planted Monarda ‘Saxon Purple’. The monarda has yet to flower but Sahin’s Early is starting its long run, popping up between Nepeta ‘Six Hills Giant’ and Veronicastrum ‘Lavendelturm’. I just love it!
Images courtesy of the Hardy Plant Society Image Library