Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
There are a number of exceptional rudbeckias or black eyed susans. Some of these received various awards recently. The rudbeckias are among the top five perennials in several states and regions, including Colorado and New England. These were a favorite of visitors to the Stokes Seeds Trial Farm in St. Catherines, Ontario.
Henry Eilers Rudbeckia
This species is known as sweet coneflower. It was a top performer at the University of Georgia trial gardens in Athens where it was a favorite among visitors. Hardy to zone four, this plant can reach five feet in height. These are majestic upright plants with a narrow outline. There are two unique things about this plant. First, there’s the foliage that releases a delicious sweet fragrance. Both the fresh and dried leaves have the scent.
The blooms are quite exceptional as well. These are quilled, and unlike those of other rudbeckias. Produced on very graceful flower stalks, the flowers have vivid golden yellow petals. These blooms are up to two inches wide with lovely brown centers. This variety blooms from July through September, and is at its peak in mid to late summer.
There were two other popular perennial rudbeckias at the Athens trials. These included Pot of Gold and Early Bird Gold.
Denver Daisy Rudbeckia
Denver Daisy was originally released in 2010, and was among the best performers at the Colorado State University plant trials. It was a favorite of visitors to the gardens.
Denver Daisy was released in honor of Denver’s 150th anniversary last year. It was seen everywhere in plantings around the city. This was also among the top five favorites of visitors to the University of Georgia trial gardens in Athens where it was rated number two by the public.
In addition Denver Daisy received a 2010 American Garden Award. The plants were displayed at 18 public gardens around the country, and the public was asked to vote on their favorite varieties. Denver Daisy was one of these selected, and it was awarded the American Garden Award Grand Prize.
Very early to bloom, this was hybridized from native species in the state of Colorado. Quite heat tolerant, it reaches two feet in height with a spread of over a foot. This has huge, flamboyant blooms, up to six inches wide. These have very dark eyes. The petals are golden with reddish-brown, especially near the center. This plant tolerates all sorts of extreme weather conditions, and is suited to most areas of the country. The lush, vigorous, healthy plants are a tender perennial. They’re the earliest variety to bloom in their height category.