The truly wonderful Henryk Eilers

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Rudbeckia subtomentosa ‘Henryk Eilers’, Tostat, July 2015
Rudbeckia Henryk Eilers 815
Rudbeckia subtomentosa ‘Henryk Eilers’, Tostat, August 2015

Apparently, according to the ‘English Garden’, this very agreeable plant, Rudbeckia subtomentosa ‘Henryk Eilers’ is one of Nigel Dunnett‘s favourite plants of the last two decades- I would agree wholeheartedly.  It is not a ‘blingy’ plant- rather, it is a good, strong grower that has even come through our terrible drought this summer, though, admittedly, the flowers are the size of a fingernail, tiny in comparison with these photographs of 2 years ago.

It grows as well as ‘Goldsturm’, and like ‘Goldsturm’, will take pretty much whatever is thrown at it, in terms of weather and conditions.  But it should become a slender giant, up to 1.5m or taller, with supple, strong stems that bounce back, and these lovely, quilled flowers with the typical dark chocolate Rudbeckia centre.  The yellow is softer than ‘Goldsturm’, and the quilling gives the whole flower a delicate appearance.  But delicate, it ain’t.

It was discovered alongside a stream near railway tracks in open prairie in Illinois by a retired nurseryman, Henry Eilers.  It first appeared on the commercial market in 2003 and has won hearts across the world ever since.  I bought it in, maybe, 2007, when I found a small nursery, Groenstraat 13, in Belgium that specialised in Dan Hinckley introductions, and it arrived safe and sound in the post.  Rik from ‘Groenstraat 13’ called it ‘Henryk Eilers’ and because it reminds me of Sondheim’s ‘A Little Night Music’, I like to keep the Flemish version of the name.  For more about this great plant, see this article by North Creek Nurseries in Pennsylvania.

It has toiled this year, but, I have a mind to dig it up and divide it sooner rather than later.  My experiment, inspired by Monty Don’s visit to Jimi Blake and Hunting Brook Gardens in Ireland, in early division of two clumps of Stachys officinalis ‘Hummelo’ has been a real success- I am now a proud parent of 35 rapidly growing small plants in pots as opposed to two rather exhausted parent plants in a dried out garden.  Not bad, eh?!

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Stachys officinalis ‘Hummelo’, Tostat, June 2016

And, to remind myself about the great Nigel Dunnett, here are a couple of photographs from his RHS Chelsea gardens in 2011 and 2013.  I love his work.

Dunnett 2011
Nigel Dunnett’s Habitat Walls appearing through the planting, The New Wild Garden, RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2011.
Dunnett 2013
Nigel Dunnett’s Blue Water Garden, RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2013.



Call to action..owning up and heaving a sigh of relief

I was humbled on reading a new blog I follow this morning by ‘Frogend dweller’ entitled ‘Weeding- The Job of Heroes’. Mainly because, the blog is so right, it’s lovely to focus on what’s working, what’s new and bask a bit in the lovely bits of gardening.  But that does ignore the drudgery of some things….like weeding.  I am not the world’s most energetic weeder, things have to have got to get to a pretty pass before I muscle in.

And yesterday was not the right day for it. Blazing sun, earth dry as a bone, but like a dog with a bone, I was determined to deal with….a perennial sweet pea, Lathyus latifolius, which, despite my valiant attempts to hoik it out 2 years ago, is still returning with a vengeance.  I planted it where it was destined to go for world domination. In doing so, it does produce masses of mauve-pink unscented flowers, but it will quickly escape any restraints and sit firmly on, or smash, depending on how kind I am feeling, anything in its path.

Lathyrus latifolius credit: wikipedia commons
Lathyrus latifolius
credit: wikipedia commons

It had to be stopped. I was purple in the face, sweating cobs, and swearing loudly when Andy came out and clapped a hat on my head.  Not a pretty sight.  I had already used my water-weeding technique where I spray water from the ruisseau intensively, and then get in there with a fork and trowel by hand. Normally this works quite well even with our dry, stony soil, and it is the only way to do it once it starts getting hotter.  But it was having none of it.

So I retired from the scene, defeated. And yes, dear reader, on this occasion, I am giving in and going chemical. I will buy some spot weedkiller and dob it on the leaves which will not affect anything else. Don’t be too shocked, I wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t really neccessary.  The link above to gives a truthful picture of this pea, which I had not read or digested when I grew it from seed.  Trust me, it is a thug.

So, in an attempt to cheer you all up, I am showing you a photograph of a plant that has succeeded all on its own. Carpenteria californica should have been well up to the job of making it in my hottest spot, but it has really toiled.  Now, to be honest, there is a reason for this.  I adore the massive clump of japanese Anemone, Anemone x  hybrida ‘Honorine Jobert’ which it sits next to, and haven’t the heart to take out, I love the flowers and I really admire it for dealing with a spot it shouldn’t really be able to deal with. But the Anemone has not been kind to the Carpenteria and hugs it way too vigorously. However, the Carpenteria has hung in there, and I think it is going to make it. Hooray.  Could have made life easier for it, but I didn’t.

Carpenteria californica, Tostat, May 2015
Carpenteria californica, Tostat, May 2015

And lastly, another plant that also does it’s own thing, and makes a real contribution. Oenethora ‘Lemon Sunset’ is a great plant, Clear, pale lemon big flowers that only last a day, but who cares? Comes back each year, though I will need to grow some more for next year as they don’t come back in such numbers. Loves rubbish soil and dryness.

Oenethora 'Lemon Sunset', Tostat, May 2015
Oenethora ‘Lemon Sunset’, Tostat, May 2015

I first saw it years ago in Nigel Dunnett’s 2011 Chelsea garden, though, sadly, I didn’t take a photo of it there.

Loved these circular pools, Nigel Dunnett, Chelsea 2011
Loved these circular pools, Nigel Dunnett, Chelsea 2011

Chelsea next Wednesday, here I come.