In a Vase, on Monday – Rudbeckia and Ratibida

The interesting thing about Rudbeckia – commonly known around here as Black Eyed Susan – is that, although native, it’s not terribly drought tolerant. Without a regular watering, or regular rain, the leaves wither, the flower stems droop, the flowers stay small and shriveled. I’ve had large patches just turn to dust some summers.

Come mid summer, I often need to ration the well water – making sure there’s enough for showers, cooking and dishes and using it sparingly in the garden, usually on the tomatoes. Ornamental annuals and even perennials need to fend for themselves. Since we seem to be in the middle of a mini drought I thought I should snip some Rudbeckia while they’re still half decent looking. I have two species – hirta and fulgida. My eye can’t distinguish the flowers but their habit is quite different. The R. hirta has many flowers branching off a single stalk, while R. fuldiga tends to have a single flower atop its stem. I think I have that right!

The taller daisy-like flower is Ratibida pinnata – Prairie Coneflower, or grey head coneflower. It self seeds EVERYWHERE here! I also have three white spires from an unusual native perennial – Canadian Burnet – Sanguisorba canadensis. In nature it’s found in boggy areas, which I can’t provide, yet it’s adapted quite well to my wet spring, very dry summer garden. Plus a few sprigs of a peach snapdragon, just because. The vase is a jar found during an excavation about 20 years ago in Toronto. I like its art deco feel.

My patch of Sanguisorba candensis.
Wilty Rudbeckia below tall Ratibida

Thanks to Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for hosting the Monday In A Vase meme – her site is loaded with vases from around the world!

19 Comments

  1. Yes, that IS a pretty jar, Chris, such a lovely shape! Interesting to read what is native with you. Cultivated perennial rudbeckias don’t seem to do well in my garden but I have grown R hirta from seed although it doesn’t seem to last more than a couple of seasons. I do grow the annual rudbeckias from seed and realise mine are perhaps producing smaller flowers because of some very dry periods here. Useful to have the sanguisorba as a native as it always looks lovely in a vase. Thanks for sharing today

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  2. Another lovely arrangement with the attractive Sanguisorba adding height. I’ve always found it frustrating that so many plants that can take the heat are thirsty devils. Water has become a constant issue here in Southern California, where drought nips at our heels even in years like this one in which we had a healthy amount of winter rain. I’ve had minimal success with Rudbeckia, which is mostly an expensive annual here. I do love it, though.

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    1. I’ve grown more selective in my purchases in recent years….if there’s any mention of ‘likes moisture’ I stay away…just means a bit more research and perhaps starting with one, instead of three or five, of any given plant. Not much different than looking at temperature zones though, I guess eh?

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  3. Love the vase and the container..you never know what you’ll find digging around. I try to grow Rudbeckia hirta here, in sugar sand! It gets fungus, turns brown and dies yet grows in drainage swales further south of here on the interstate. Go figure.

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  4. Lovely arrangements–and a really fantastic jar! I feel your pain about moisture needing plants. Very little rain here recently, with temperatures well into the the 90sF. Yesterday was 98F with a “feels like” of 105. Try keeping coleus alive in that!

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  5. In our chaparral climate, and even in desert climates, there are species that are native to riparian situation. The red willows that grow like weeds along the creeks would not survive out in the open in the Santa Clara Valley. Also, there are natives that do their thing only in spring, than then go dormant by summer.

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