As the last of the daffodils open (mid-April in Victoria), Leopard’s Bane joins the spring cacophony of colour. The sunny-faced flowers sway on tall stalks above the burst of Bluebells, Tulips and Hyacinth.
They’re happy yellow flowers -undaunted by seasonal showers.
The exuberance of Leopard’s Bane (Doronicum) lifts spring to new heights.
By mid-May, their enthusiasm wanes, but the show is certainly not over. For me, the progression is beautiful. The varied stages of seeding are almost as enchanting as the flowering.
- First, the petals of Leopard’s Bane wither a bit.
- Then somehow the rays turn to fluff & float away…
- The fluorescence of the central disk holds out for a while longer before it also turns to fluff and flies off.
- Even the remaining bracts are decorative – still catching enough breeze to add movement in the beds. That’s a couple extra weeks of pleasure & value.
By the time school wraps up in mid-June, Leopard’s Bane has dispersed its seed. The heat withers its foliage. Doronicum disappears on holiday, too. Summer perennials elbow into its space as if it was never even there.
By the time we’re carving Jack-o-lanterns in October, the leaves are falling from above. It feels like the garden is dying, too. But autumn’s moisture tickles the rhizomes below the soil. New leaves peek out. Leopard’s Bane is re-awakening. As so much else fades away, Doronicum stays fresh, green & alive right through the doldrums of our West Coast winter.
In our garden, Leopard’s Bane is indispensable because:
- It has happy yellow flowers
- Our brazen urban deer ignore it. (It’s reputed to be poisonous, but also medicinal !?!)
- I never have to water it – – it’s summer drought-tolerant in the Pacific Northwest… and yet, it’s not invasive.
- It’s as happy under shade trees as it is in full sun.
- It’s an unusual cool-season perennial:
- it comes to life when the rest of the garden is dying back in the fall…
- it stays green through our mild coastal winters…
- and it promises the return of vigour in the spring warmth.
- It boasts 8+ months of interest to a garden –one of the longest-lasting spring ephemerals.
- It’s low maintenance.
- And, most of all: The deer ignore it.
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