Tag Archive: yellow

Green-eyed Rudbeckia: picture by Ellen Zillin

Green-eyed Rudbeckia: picture by Ellen Zillin

Picture: Dario Fusario

Picture: Dario Fusaro

john aspley

Picture by John Aspley

gleditsia triacanthos matureI bought a Gleditsia triacanthos ‘Sunburst’ some years ago as a young plant through the post. It’s now about 2 metres tall and beginning to find its feet in Old School Garden. I love its bright yellow foliage which is a great contrast to the maroon foliage of plants like Lysimachia ciliata ‘Firecracker’.

Common name: ‘Honey Locust’ or ‘Thorny Locust’

Native areas: A deciduous tree native to central North America,  it is mostly found in the moist soil of river valleys ranging from southeastern South Dakota to New Orleans and central Texas, and as far east as eastern Massachusetts. It was introduced into Britain in 1700, with the cultivar ‘Sunburst’ introduced in the 1950’s.

Historical notes: The Honey Locust, despite its name, is not a significant honey plant. The name derives from the sweet taste of the legume pulp, which was used for food by Native American people, and can also be fermented to make beer. The long pods, which eventually dry and ripen to brown or maroon, are surrounded in a tough, leathery skin that adheres very strongly to the pulp within. The pulp—bright green in unripe pods—is strongly sweet, crisp and succulent in unripe pods. Dark brown tannin-rich beans are found in slots within the pulp. Honey locusts produce a high quality, durable wood that polishes well, but the tree does not grow in sufficient numbers to support a bulk industry; however, a niche market exists for honey locust furniture. It is also used for posts and rails since it takes a long time to rot. In the past, the hard thorns of the younger trees have been used as nails! The tree has been used in traditional Native American medicine.

Gleditsia triacanthos 'sunburst' in Old School Garden- with Lysimachia ciliata 'Firecracker' in front and Monarda 'Cambridge Scarlet' and Crocosmia 'Lucifer'
Gleditsia triacanthos ‘Sunburst’ in Old School Garden– with Lysimachia ciliata ‘Firecracker’ in front and Monarda ‘Cambridge Scarlet’ and Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’

Features: A large, oval and elegant tree growing to 20 metres plus and quick growing. It’s leaves resemble fronds and when mature, it looks most striking with its shiny, long seed pods. Leaves are bright green turning to golden yellow in autumn. The variety ‘Sunburst’ has bright yellow foliage in early summer and this turns greener as the season progresses.

Uses:  A wonderful choice for heavily polluted environments prone to vandalism and a good choice for parks and industrial areas, it is also a great garden tree, doing well on most types of soil. It’s fast growth rate and ease of transplanting make it a good choice for new gardens where shade or a feature is wanted relatively quickly. The tree needs careful handling though, because of its thorns (however, most cultivars are thornless). The cultivar ‘Sunburst” has gained the RHS Award of Garden Merit (AGM). This cultivar grows to 15-20 metres and has a rounded, rather spreading form, a good substitute for the rather more damage-prone Robinia pseudoacacia ‘Frisia’.

Gleditsia triacanthos - autumn colour
Gleditsia triacanthos – autumn colour

Growing conditions: The cultivars (e.g. ‘Sunburst’, ‘Skyline’, ‘Inermis’) are popular ornamental plants. It tolerates urban conditions, compacted soil, road salt, alkaline soil, heat and drought. The popularity is in part due to the fact that it transplants so easily, its fast growth rate and tolerance of poor site conditions. It is also great where shade is wanted quickly, such as new parks or housing developments, and in disturbed and reclaimed environments, such as mine tailings. It is resistant to gypsy moths but is defoliated by another pest, the Mimosa Webworm. Spider mites, cankers and galls are also a problem with some trees.

Gleditsia triacanthos 'Sunburst'
Gleditsia triacanthos ‘Sunburst’

Further information:

Wikipedia- Gleditsia triacanthos

RHS- Gleditsia triacanthos ‘Sunburst’

Barcham trees directory

Old School Gardener

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- About.com

Rudbeckias- special perennials.com

Old School Gardener

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