Following up on last night's post, tonight I thought I'd skip the "suspense" and reveal the name of this one: Ligularia dentata 'Desdemona.'
It's one of two species of Ligularia that we have planted out in the woodland garden on the north side of our house. Sometimes you will see it referred to commonly as Ragwort -- not be confused with ragweed, though I've read that some are allergic to the other species we have Ligularia stenocephala, which you can see in the background of the first shot.
We've really become big fans of 'Desdemona' since we first discovered it several years ago in another shade garden we pass every day. We saw it when blooming and were struck by the brilliant yellow flowers (oddly suggestive of Black Eyed Susans) and bronzy red foliage, so we just had to find out more. With a little research we were surprised to find that it was a Ligularia! At that point all we had was L. stenocephala and we were already quite fond of it, so we set out to find a 'Desdemona' to keep it company. It took a bit of looking beyond the typical garden centers to find it, but this plant does have a bit of a following among gardeners (especially in shade gardens) and seems to be more widely available the past few years. It's definitely most suited for shady areas where the ground never really dries out completely, as it's very prone to wilting and will die if left in dry conditions for too long. Nevertheless, it's a very hardy plant once established, and it tends to spread relatively quickly, so give it some space the first few years. With a little regular watering during dry spells in summer, it will reward you with plenty of flowers beginning in July, often into the fall months with a little deadheading and luck. Ligularia dentata makes a great companion for ferns as well, and though you can't see them in these shots, it's very close to a stand of Maidenhair Ferns.
The first shot gives a sense of what the overall plant looks like, though this is really just a detail showing the foliage and buds opening ... they don't look quite as sinister in this one do they?
The second shot is a marvelous close up Fernymoss got of the party going on in this bloom ... just look at those dancing anthers! He also caught a party-goer sneaking away, but not fast enough to escape the lens (fortunately)!
These shots were taken 5 August, 2007, courtesy of Fernymoss.