Radiant yellow daisies dominate my August gardens. The wanton, golden Showy Black-eyed Susan, the color of marigolds, is everywhere, anywhere its seeds have found a bit of bare dirt in which to sprout.
Every year I think I have way too many Showy Black-eyed Susan–until August, when their ravishing blossoms fill my sunny gardens. The golden-petaled daisies with chocolate centers bloom from mid-to-late July until mid-September on a bushy plant 2-3’ tall and up to 4’ wide. Rare in the wild, it is Indigenous to wet, calcareous habitats; it nevertheless thrives in ordinary garden soil. Due to a shallow root system, it is not, however, drought-resistant–a dry summer without water input will cause severe wilting and even death.
A ribbon of Showy Black-eyed Susan grows next to a driveway and sidewalk edging of Prairie Dropseed.
This is where my Black-eyed Susan’s came from. Absolutely brilliant design by Kerry Leigh for Marianne Nelson–the very first Prairie Garden in Elgin.
Showy Black-eyed Susan and Prairie Baby’s Breath (Euphorbia corollata) in bloom at the former grounds of The Natural Garden.
My side yard in bloom in August, dominated by Showy Black-eyed Susan .
View from my front porch of Showy Black-eyed Susan, Prairie Baby’s Breath, and various prairie grasses.
My front walk in August with Little Bluestem.
Intimate hide-away in my side yard–only a few feet from the public sidewalk, but completely private. Showy Black-eyed Susan with Purple Coneflower and Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium purpureum). The giant leaves in front are those of Prairie Dock (Silphium terinbinthinaceum).
Yellow Coneflower (Ratibida pinnata) is still in bloom, as well. Long, notably reflexed, yellow petals surround a tall prominent cone, in bloom from early July until mid-October. Growing 3-5’ tall, it is common in dry prairie and along railroad tracks. Prolific in the home garden, it has seeded itself into my my west side garden, combining with Blazing Star. This was August, 2009.
The broad petals of False Sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides) are the same fiery yellow-orange as the Black-eyed Susan, but its disks are bronze-gold rather than brown. The 3-4’ tall, loosely-branched clump begins to bloom in late June and carries on thorough August. It is found in prairies and woodland edges. It’s an aggressive seeder–I thinned mine out quite a bit this spring in order to plant other species of plants.
Helen’s Flower or Sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale) is also in bloom. Its yellow daisy is dIstinguished from other yellow daisies by its light brown disc surrounded by strongly reflexed, scalloped (or notched) ray florets (or petals) in bloom from late July into early Nov. (Its species name tells us it is autumn blooming.) Growing 2-5’ tall., it requires a moist situation, which I don’t have in any of my gardens, so I have never grown it. In nature it is found in marshes, fens, and moist meadows.
Sneezeweed does not derive its common name from the effects of its pollen. It was crushed to make a snuff that promoted sneezing. (Ontario Native Plants 2002)
The genus is thought to have been named by Linnaeus for Helen of Troy.
If you want to read more about the Daisy Family, I strongly recommend the Sunflower Family in the Upper Midwest by Thomas M. Antonio & Susanne Masi.