Horticulture Supervisor, Kyle Cheesborough
For the cutting garden in Bellefontaine Cemetery’s Garden of Angels, a consistent supply of blooming plants is necessary. The summer beauty onion, Allium ‘Summer Beauty’, is a reliable summer blooming bulb, producing numerous globe-shaped flower clusters sitting about eight inches above the rosette of narrow foliage. As the name suggests, the summer beauty onion is in the onion family (Amaryllidaceae), and all parts of the plant have a distinct onion aroma when bruised or crushed. The taste and smell of the summer beauty onion are detested by deer, making this an excellent flowering plant for the deer-riddled garden. Provided with good drainage to avoid bulb rot and full sun, Allium ‘Summer Beauty’ will provide consistent summer color, and interesting texture with its narrow foliage and whimsical, globular flowers. Be sure to plant the summer beauty onion in the fall, as the leaves are going dormant.
Another dependable summer bloomer is the sweet coneflower, Rudbeckia subtomentosa ‘Henry Eilers’. Discovered growing wild in a remnant Illinois prairie, the sweet coneflower can reach up to five feet in full bloom. The blooms are held on sturdy stems, featuring a composite flower made up of a dark-brown central disc, surrounded by brilliant-yellow floral rays that serve to attract pollinators.
Unique to the Rudbeckia subtomentosa ‘Henry Eilers’ are the rolled floral rays, giving the appearance of small, golden quills shooting from the flower’s eye. Another plant preferring good drainage, be sure to site the sweet coneflower in full sun, and remove dead or dying blooms to extend the flowering season.
The blackberry lily, Belamcanda chinensis ‘Freckle Face’, is another superb cut-flower perennial. In mid-to-late summer, rising above the iris-like foliage, the true-orange blossoms open. About an inch across, each bloom is speckled with red-orange dots, giving this cultivar the name ‘Freckle Face’. As flowering stops, small, 1-2 inch fruits develop, eventually splitting open to reveal glossy-black seeds, clustered in such a way to resemble a fresh blackberry.
The common name is a bit misleading, as this is neither a blackberry or a lily, and the foliage can be deceptive, as this plant is very easily confused with an iris when not in bloom. Belamcanda chinensis ‘Freckle Face’ is somewhat adaptable, but will not tolerate wet soils. Be sure to not remove the spent blooms, as they will put on a show with the seed-heads in fall.
compiled by Cara L. Crocker