Helenium ‘Wyndley’ (Compositae, Asteraceae)
Helenium ‘Wyndley’ is a possibly the shortest and earliest to flower of the Heleniums. The flowers are a warm orange, suffused with red and set off with a dark centre. They are produced in abundance from June through July on relatively stiff, well branched stems. Easily grown in any good soil. 60-80cm
The breeding on Heleniums draws from a wide range of species such that most cultivars aren’t assigned to one single species. As a rule, those species that are tall derive a lot of their stature from Helenium autumnale. They are all good reliable perennials, enjoying a moist soil in full sun (in fact growing in any soil short of a bog). The foliage is never anything great to look at, but the flowers do a great deal to add colour to the summer border and are an absolute magnet for the bees.
Heleniums are one of a group of warm coloured late summer daisies that are often confused.
Of the daisies with a pronounced central nose, there are three main genera, Helenium, Rudbeckia and Echinacea.
Echinacea are the easiest to identify as they have a cone centre which is spiky to the touch. They used to come mainly in pinks and white, but with modern breeding yellows and oranges have been added to the mix.
Rudbeckia have similiar shaped cones to the Echinacea, sometimes more elongated, but the cones are soft to the touch. Rudbeckias come in yellows and oranges, touching on brown.
Heleniums have a much rounder, bun shaped brown or yellow nose with a lovely felty feel. As the flower ages and the fertile flowers mature a ring of yellow stamens pops out. It always looks to me like embers chasing over a burnt log. They cover yellow, orange and red.
Helenium ‘Wyndley’ – (Sneezeweed) Helenium comes from the greek ‘helenion’, the name used for another plant, possibly Inula helenium. Ultimately the name refers to Helen of Troy as the plant is said to have sprouted from the ground where Helen of Troy wept tears. The common name ‘sneezeweed’ comes from the use by the American Indians of the dried leaves as a snuff to promote nasal discharge – ridding the body of evil spirits (errhine). It is only one of several other plants that share the name sneezeweed, including Achillea ptarmica, Hymenoxs hoopesii and Centipeda cunninghamii.