Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Willow-leaved sunflower

I took a quick snapshot of my perennial sunflowers before I went on vacation. I'd hoped to get a better photo when I returned, but most of them have flopped and gone to seed now. The willow-leaved sunflower, Helianthus salicifolius, is among several native perennial sunflowers that are, as garden author Peter Loewer puts it, “akin to many American originals: tough, rugged and, like the American skyscraper, tall and bold.”

The North Carolina Botanical Garden selected a cousin of the willow-leaved sunflower, the swamp sunflower (H. angustifolius), as the 2007 Wildflower of the Year, calling it “the giant exclamation point at the end of the growing season.” As its name suggests, swamp sunflower lives in the wild in swamps, marshes and savannas, but it will thrive in wet to average soil.

In exchange for a self-addressed stamped envelope, the Botanical Garden will give you free seeds of its Wildflower of the Year selections. The 2008 flower is white wood-aster. Send your request with SASE to: 2008 NCWFOY, North Carolina Botanical Garden, CB 3375 Totten Center, UNC-CH, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3375. I don't know whether they still have any sunflower seed, but it wouldn't hurt to ask. You can e-mail them at ncbg@unc.edu.

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