From February 1998

Previous Page

Low tidy plants with masses of flowers in late spring are always popular with gardeners. Sunroses can be used as edging plants, or in sunny banks and borders to provide clear bright color in May and early June. Their evergreen nature and matting habit makes them valuable in every season for small scale groundcover and low borders.

Planting during the time of late winter rains allows Helianthemum, the Sun Rose, time to establish their roots and by spring they'll be spreading their low branches wide (approximately 8 to 12" high by 3'+ wide) in time to really display their bright flowers. They are in the rockrose family and appreciate the same full sun, well-drained soil locations (also fine on limestone) favored by other rockroses. They are equally undemanding in care, with a once a year shearing back after the major flush of blooms is finished, just to maintain that low tight mound and to encourage a bit of fall bloom. Again like the Cistus, they are wonderfully drought tolerant, once established. They are lovely along a sunny bank, draping over a wall, or creeping amongst small rocks.

The majority of cultivated Helianthemum plants are hybrids of H. apenninum and H. nummularium, the former from south and west Europe, the Mediterranean and Asia Minor. The latter is native to Europe, Asia Minor, Armenia and the Caucasus and Atlas mountains. Many of the hybrids were made and selected at the Royal Horticultural Society garden, Wisley, just outside of London. Other new selections have recently come from the Bloom family, from their trials at Blooms of Bressingham, north of London by a few hours.

The 1" flowers open for one day, closing in the afternoon or evening, yet they bloom in great profusion, giving us mounds of massed color. In our region they start showing color around mid May through July or so, then with a scattering of flowers in fall. After the colorful show, they remain tight hummocks of dark green or silvery green foliage. They perform well at coastside and well inland, possibly giving more flowers in the hotter regions.

We now offer 'Annabel' with double pink flowers and greyish-green foliage, 'Belgravia Rose' with blue-green leaves and striking rose-pink flowers, 'Dazzler' with narrow grey-green leaves and "dazzling" red blooms, 'Henfield Brilliant' with silver-green leaves and coppery-orange blooms, 'St. Mary's' with green foliage and white flowers, 'Stoplight' with grey-green leaves and brick-red flowers, and 'Wisley Primrose' with grey-green leaves and primrose-yellow blossoms.