This year I’ve really enjoyed the usual spring flush of color in the garden. One plant, in particular, has attracted my admiration more than any of the others.
Wooly Sunflower (aka Oregon Sunshine & Eriophyllum lanatum) started blooming mid-May and didn’t stop until the end of June! The sunny, yellow, daisy blooms lasted as the peonies & rhododendron spectacles came and went. Hooray for Staying Power.
There are more reasons to admire Wooly Sunflower:
Deer leave it alone – – no missing flowers or over-pruned foliage.
- It attracts & feeds the local pollinators especially well because it’s native to our part of the world (southern BC & through the states to Mexico).
It’s very drought tolerant. I’ve seen them in Strathcona Park, growing in the gravel of a roadside pull-out! They actually seem to do better with LESS water in our garden. The plants that I watered more regularly sent out long blooming stems that flopped over under the weight of the blooms.
- Once established, it’s easy-care. all I do is sheer off the spent flowers in July or August, creating a well-groomed look.
In our climate, it’s evergreen – – or shall I say, ever-grey. It’s so nice to have the tidy mounds of foliage through the more barren garden of winter.
Originally, I thought it would be an easy addition to our garden. I had a tough time getting the small 4-inch pots of Eriophyllum lanatum established. Although I watered them weekly, they struggled on our rocky outcrop – – a match to their natural habitat! After a couple of years, I was frustrated. What worked, in the end, was shifting the small starts to an area with deeper soil, that was still watered weekly but not baked in as much sun.
The plants quickly grew, spreading to a foot wide in one season. They were a bit lanky & not terribly attractive, but had established a stronger root mass. In the fall I divided them, keeping deep rootballs, & planted them into drier areas. They settled into their new homes over our moist winter & flourished with very little water through the following dry summer.
Now we have Wooly Sunflower in several areas: the boulevard, the rocky outcrop, & our more traditional flower garden. I’m on the lookout for even more easy-care native plants that suit…..
Other native plants that I’d welcome into our garden: