Black-Eyed Susans

What's not to love about Black-Eyed Susans (Rudbeckias), Maryland's state flower?  Their blooms are beautiful and last for months - from late June through September.  The photo below was taken in Wheaton, MD on September 30.

They couldn't be easier - drought-tolerant and virtually pest-free.  They're also native to this region.

The most popular ones stay compact, under 3 feet, and don't flop over.

(Above, some taller ones that will flow over if they're not supported.)

They look great in masses, as part of the New American Garden style of gardening that became popular in the '80s and is still going strong.   Above, they're paired with masses of grasses and Monardas.  And because they self-sow reliably, it takes just a few starter plants to become an impressive mass within a few years.

They come in a variety of forms, like the long-petaled one above.

And they attract the garden critters we love, like hummingbirds.

Award Winner

And curiously, the Black-eyed Susans are the official flower of the famous Preakness race at the Pimlico racegrounds.  What's curious is that the race is held in May, long before the Susans are blooms.  So, to create the traditional garland of Susans to drape over the shoulders of the winning horse, 80 bunches of Viking daisies are attached to a base of spongy rubber matting.  Then the centers of the daisies are daubed with black lacquer to simulate the Black-Eyed Susan look.  

Photo credits:  long-petaled rudbeckia,  Rudbeckia with hummningbird, Preakness winner.

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