Rudbeckia: Garden Sunshine

photo taken by Spokane Photographer Alan Tower

Rudbeckia hirta ‘Cappuccino’ is a vibrant addition to the sunny border.

Rudbeckia as a genus is perhaps the single most colorful perennial offering for the late summer garden.  Gardens featuring this plant are sometimes prone to “too much of a good thing” (such as my own home garden where we let a few too many come to maturity in front this year).  There are other species besides fulgida and hirta, but I’m going to focus on these two because they are by far the most popular ones.  Rudbeckia hirta ‘Cappuccino’ is one of the most colorful and popular varieties of this easy, deer resistant perennial.  The bicolor flowers are vibrant and give interest up close as well as at a distance in the garden (for distant viewing, be sure to use white or yellow).

Spokane photographer Alan Tower

The relative sizes of the petals and flowers are shown with Rudbeckia hirta being larger than Rudbeckia fulgida

All the rudbeckias are going to give mass displays of color.  Rudbeckia fulgida v. sulivantii ‘Goldsturm’ (commonly known as ‘Goldsturm’) is the ever popular black (brown) eyed Susan.  There are masses of yellow flowers with the dark brown eyes.  The petals are smaller than those of Rudbeckia hirta cultivars.  Note the difference in the photo at right which contains both  Rudbeckia hirta (two top flowers) and ‘Goldsturm’ (the bottom flowers that are smaller).

Besides size and petal color, Rudbeckia hirta also offers different colored eyes.  ‘Irish Eyes’ and ‘Prairie Sun’ both have yellow/green eyes instead of the dark brown ones.

Spokane photography Alan Tower

Rudbeckia hirta ‘Prairie Sun’ has a green/yellow eye instead of the dark brown version.

They require low to moderate watering and sun.  You’ll be wise to thin out the seedlings if you don’t keep seed production down by regular deadheading.  Next spring there is typically a small patch formed around the area planted the year before.  Just decide how many you want, but remember they will look much bigger in July than they did when emerging in spring.

We use these to naturalize in some otherwise wild areas of the garden that receive some modest amounts of water.  Very good for that function despite the fact that our garden is surrounded by deer.  These have been consistently left alone–the deer prefer the more rare and expensive fare.

Spokane Photographer Alan Tower Close up photo of  Rudbeckia yellow bloom.

Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’ is a former Perennial Plant of the Year and always popular.

Evening Primrose: Oenothera macrocarpa

Huge, delicate blooms that last only 1 day...that seems like it might hardly be worth growing. However, there are many every day all summer and the plant persists even with deer herds and drought.  Not delicate after all! Though there are a number … [Continue reading]

Dicentra The Bleeding Heart

The genus Dicentra includes the ever popular bleeding heart.  Each pendulous flower has a perfect heart shape, and the long sprays of blooms are simply beautiful in spring.  Dicentra spectabilis is the most popular species, growing to 5' diameter … [Continue reading]

Hakonechloa (Japanese Forest Grass)

Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola'   Isn't that a mouthful?  Yet despite the difficult pronunciation, Hakonechloa or Japanese Forest Grass is one of only 2 ornamental grasses ever awarded the prestigious Perennial Plant of the Year honor.  So what is this … [Continue reading]

Hellebore Hoopla

Hellebores are among the most popular of perennial plants for good reason.  They will grow in shade (Helleborus foetidus will grow just about ANYWHERE), they remain resistant to deer, and they are one of the earliest blooms in spring.  There are many … [Continue reading]

Flower Bed design: Contours

There are many factors in flower bed design, one of which is the contour of the beds.  Other key factors include placement, materials used and scale of the bed, but today I'll talk about contour. I start by laying out the form of the bed.  Unless … [Continue reading]

Doomed Weeds

Doomed weeds, now that sounds promising!  The one I have labeled "doomed' is one that just got a spring glyphosate (RoundUp or equivalent) dose.  I do a "surgical" strike on my beds before all the plants grow out for the season.  Luckily, grass and … [Continue reading]

Evergreen Shrubs

Selecting evergreen shrubs is a task that is crucial to the garden's appearance.  These shrubs comprise the primary color for the winter garden as well as the structure for the garden year round.  If your garden has been lackluster this winter (look … [Continue reading]

Opening the Garden: Spring Cleaning

I had an employee who had previously worked in the UK who shared the phrase "Opening the Garden" as the British equivalent of "Spring Cleaning".  Winter's debris is removed and the grasses and other plants left up for winter interest are cut back. … [Continue reading]

Choosing a Tomato Plant

Yes, choosing a tomato plant is a very easy task.  It is in the "self-help" department since everyone knows what a tomato is and there are no true right and wrong answers.  Who is to say a slicer is better than a cherry or vice versa?  And if you … [Continue reading]