Archive for 11/10/2013



Giant sculpture made of waste
The WEEE Man is a 3.3-tonne structure which represents the amount of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) the average British household throws away in a lifetime.


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rudbeckia via thegardendeliRudbeckia is a plant genus of 23 species, commonly called ‘Coneflowers’ and ‘Black-eyed-susans’. They are native to North America (‘prairie plants’) and are cultivated for their showy flower heads of yellow and orange, with a dark centre seed head, but there are also russet, bronze and mahogany tones. Mainly herbaceous perennials, some are annual or biennial.

They grow to between 0.5m and 3m tall, with simple or branched stems. The leaves are spirally arranged, and are between 5cm and 25 cm long. The flowers are daisy-like, with yellow or orange florets arranged in a prominent, cone-shaped head; “cone-shaped” because the ray florets tend to point out and down as the flower head opens.

A large number of species have been proposed within Rudbeckia, but most are now regarded as synonyms of a more restricted list. Several of these currently accepted species have a number of accepted varieties. Some of them (for example the Black-eyed Susan, R. hirta), are popular garden flowers, and prized for their long flowering times. There are many  cultivars of these species.

The name Rudbeckia was given by Linnaeus in honour of his botany teacher at Uppsala University – Professor Olof Rudbeck (1660-1740), and his father (also Professor Olaf – 1630-1702). Rudbeckia shares the common name ‘coneflower’ with other plants in the Asteraceae family – Echinacea, Dracopis and Ratibida.


Rudbeckias are not particular about soil, but do best in soil that is not too rich, with well-draining conditions. Rudbeckias love sunshine but R. laciniata and R. hirta (syn. gloriosa) will grow happily in dappled shade provided they have adequate moisture. Their blooms brighten up shadowy places wonderfully.  The flowers are daisy-like and can be single, semi double and fully double. Rudbeckias flower for a long period from late July well into autumn. Some of the varieties available include:

  • R. fulgida var. sullivantii ‘Goldsturm’ – The standard for Rudbeckia. Long blooming and virtually pest free (60cm)

  • R. hirta ‘Cherokee Sunset’ – Double and semi-double flowers in shades of yellow, orange, red, bronze and mahogany. Short lived, but re-seeds itself (60cm)

  • R. hirta ‘Indian Summer’ – Traditional daisy-like, large yellow flowers. Short lived, but re-seeds itself or grow as an annual. (1m-1.2m)

  • Rudbeckia ‘Toto Rustic’ – A dwarf Rudbeckia in autumn colors. There are also golden ‘Toto’ & pale ‘Toto Lemon’.

  • R. maxima Giant Coneflower – 12cm flowers and large leaves on an imposing plant (1.3m – 2.5m)

R. maxima (the ‘Great Coneflower’ or ‘Cabbage-leaved Coneflower’) is a favourite variety – It is an elegant plant with flowers with tall, black central cones which launch themselves upwards as its long petals droop downwards. Its foliage – unique among coneflowers – is a rosette of long paddle-shaped glaucous leaves, each with an elongated stem. Because it is late into flower it sometimes gets put at the back of a border, but it is a star performer that should be used nearer the front where its beautiful blue-grey foliage can be appreciated. Another advantage is that its flower stems are almost bare, so are easy to see through.

Rudbeckia maxima

Rudbeckia maxima

Rudbeckia work equally well as a complement to blue and purple flowers, like Russian sage and Veronica and mixed in with other jewel tones, like Sedum ‘Herbstfreude’, Purple Echinacea and Asters. Rudbeckia also make great cut flowers and even the seed heads will hold up in arrangements. Some plant combinations to try:

R. fulgida var. deamii with aster ‘Little Carlow’.

R. ‘Goldquelle’, lightened up with the airy wands of Gaura lindheimeri among it and foamy Calamintha nepetoides at its feet.

R. maxima with big-leaved plants such as bananas, hedychiums and ricinus for a late-summer ‘jungle’ effect.


Keep plants well watered the first season, to get them established. Once established, they will be quite drought resistant. A mulch of compost should be all the feeding they need. Regular deadheading of the faded flowers will keep the plants in bloom longer. You can let the last flowers of the season remain on the plants to go to seed and feed the birds, but you will also get a good deal of self-seeding. All perennial Rudbeckia can be increased by dividing clumps in spring or taking basal cuttings.


Sources and further information:


Growing R. laciniata ‘Herbstonne’ – RHS

Growing R. fulgida– Daily Telegraph

Choosing and growing Rudbeckia-

Rudbeckias- special

Old School Gardener

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