Friday, September 17, 2010
One Heckuva Rudbeckia
A few weeks ago, I posted about my ongoing love affair with Black-Eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta). Now, I still maintain that the common BES is a standout garden plant, being tough, vigorous and free-flowering. There is, however, a Rudbeckia I like even more...Rudbecia triloba, the Brown-Eyed Susan. Pictured above just as it started flowering about a month ago, it is reputed to be a short-lived perennial (sometimes biennial). The triloba part of it's name comes from the fact that the basal leaves have 3 lobes, however, the rest of the leaves look like regular Rudbeckia leaves. I remember first seeing them growing a few years ago in a neighbor's garden on Alberta St. in NE Portland. There was just something about their loose, open branching habit and intensely heavy flowering that really struck me. They get between 3-5 feet tall, depending on garden conditions (mine are almost 6' tall...probably thanks to the partial shade).
Above you can see them a few days ago, they are now flowering heavily and are a veritable cloud of yellow blossoms covered in bees. This is the biggest difference between this Rudbeckia an the more commonly grown variety. While it's flowers are significantly smaller, they are borne is an amazing profusion...instead of dozens of blooms, you get HUNDREDS! This is one plant that I don't stake...I really enjoy how it opens up as it gets larger and sort of insinuates itself amongst neighboring plants. At this point in the season it's almost 6' across, if you count all the sprawling branches. I love the diffuse effect it has...it's a lot of color, but in such small doses. The photo below, believe it or not, is only 1 SINGLE PLANT!
I'm hoping it does self-seed a bit, I'd really like to have more next year, especially if we plant the parking strips. I have a wonderful vision of tall grasses interplanted with these Rudbeckias, Joe Pye Weed, Ironweed, etc., a wonderful, no-holds-barred, prarie-esque planting.
Although easy to grow, Rudbeckia Triloba is not so easy to find. After searching all last summer for some, I finally found a plant at the Fall HPSO sale (which is this weekend...YAY!) and snatched it up without hesitation! Of course, I always recommend you get plants locally whenever possible, for numerous reasons, but if you can't find it locally, I've seen it offered online at Annie's Annuals, which is one of the coolest nurseries out there...I can spend hours ogling the plant selections!