The Rudbeckias come with impeccable credentials – named by Linnaeus after his predecessors and mentors at Uppsala. here they are placed side by side for comparison. I’ve set them out shortest to tallest.
- Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii ‘Goldsturm’ is one of the last flowers of Summer with rich glowing yellow daisies each enhanced by its black central cone. There is a warmth to the tone of this plant that assorts so well with all the other colours of late Summer Autumn. Reliable cheerful colour for the late season. 1m. Any soil in full sun. Leave the spent flower stems on for a winter decoration and to provide food for the birds – Goldfinches love the seeds.
- Rudbeckia ‘Berlin’. One of a new series of Echinacea / Rudbeckia crosses made by Brian Kabbes which are both sterile and perennial. Rudbeckia ‘Berlin’ has flowers that are broad flat discs, sunny yellow, mottled with browns, at the tips surrounding a perfect circle of rich mahogany red – Van Gogh would have approved of the colouring, I’m sure. The center is a darkest peat-brown dome, starting smooth , becoming shaggier as the florets open from the edge inwards with the leading edge sparkling with bright yellow anthers. If you look sidewards at it, it’s reminiscent of a monks shaven head. 55cm. July to September
- Rudbeckia triloba ‘Prairie Glow’. A real beauty for the Summer and Autumn garden. A mass of small, black-eyed daisies are well spaced out all over a bush 3-4ft tall like a warm glowing sunset. The new flowers are reddish with yellow tips but as they mature the red bleeds until no two flowers are alike. A plant taht manages impact without being over dense. July-September
- Rudbeckia laciniata ‘Herbstsonne’. A brilliant splash of sunshine for late summer into early Autumn. 7.5cm shining yellow, cone centred daisies top 5ft+ high stems in dense clusters. The petals are well rouned and lax in their demeanour. The habit of the plant is to flop somewhat and to me the flowers always have a quality of the sort of over-large floppy brimmed hats that ladies sometimes wear to Ascot. Plant in rich soil in sun for best effect.
- Rudbeckia paniculata . Lovely rich-yellow daisies sway gently on 2m+ high branched stems, perfect to accompany the warm tones of Autumn. Equally suited to modern prairie planting schemes or to the traditional mixed border. Makes a genreous spreading clump that throws numerous flowering stems. Similar to R. ‘Herbststonne’ but with more smaller flowers to the head, each of which is flatter with more pointy petals. Plant in full sun.
They are Cone-daisies, similar too and related to the Echinaceas. Unlike the Echinacea they have members that grow much taller, some of them to 2m and more. They all have a large central cone in each flower that persists after the petal fall and can be left as an attractive winter feature. We observed this year that Goldfinches are rather partial to the seeds of Rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’. Unlike Echinacea they don’t do pink. Yellows are their mainstay be they sunshine lemon as in R.’Herbststonne’ or warm chrome yellow in R.’Goldsturm’, creeping into warm browny reds in Rudbeckia triloba.
They are excellent to combine with grasses in the rather trendy prairie style planting. However it’s worth noting that they do not enjoy dry conditions, preferring a moisture retentive soil to give of their best. They really excel in long warm late summers where they also have access to moisture in the soil. Rudbeckia fulgida var. deamii is perhaps the most drought tolerant of the bunch.