Staying Power and Story of the Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckias)

So sorry I’ve been MIA. Back now with much to share!
Let’s start with a lovely and tough city beauty – the Black-Eyed Susan. 
Black-eyed Susan's poking through a black iron fenceFor the past several weeks I’ve been noticing the abundance and health of this perky perennial in gardens all over the neighborhoood. With so many colorful flowers past their peak, these bright yellow and sometimes purple flowers with the dark centers are finally getting attention!  I did a bit of research on these wildflower stunners and found out they are long-lived, low maintenance plants with a tolerance for clay soils. They prefer full sun but tolerate partial shade.  When they are planted in large groups, butterflies love them.  One article I read said they are considered bioremediators.  It seems that their roots and foliage tie up toxins from the soil and air.  What a great benefit for a city flower! 
Now here’s the back story on Black Eyed Susan.  According to the American Meadow website, the name first appears in an Old English romantic poem by John Gay.  It begins:
All in the downs, the fleet was moored,

Banners waving in the wind.
When Black-Eyed Susan came aboard,
and eyed the burly men.
“Tell me ye sailors, tell me true
Does my Sweet William sail with you?”

To read the whole poem and more, click here.
You may have heard of Sweet William. It’s the name for another flowering plant.  It appears that if you “seed wild Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus) with common Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), they’ll bloom beautifully at exactly the same time.”  Now that’s romantic!  Great flower, great story. 
Til next time… keep your garden watered!

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