Black-Eyed Susan

Black-Eyed Susan

Rudbekia fulgida ‘Goldstrum’


I have’ Goldstrum’ rudbekia growing on each side of the front steps.  What a show they put on from middle to late summer!  What a cheery welcome they give!

Rudbekia is in the sunflower family, and many a young man has picked a flower and pulled off the petals, asking on each one, She loves me, She loves me not.

Rudbekia is a lovely perennial plant, native to North America, and a daughter of the prairies.  The early pioneers found them growing wild in the meadows, and named them after an old English poem, Black-Eyed Susan, by John Gay.  (The poem is at the end of this post.) The dark black, or brown eyes of this coneflower reminded them of the poem.


This variety, ‘Goldstrum’ , was developed in Germany in 1937;  the name means ‘Gold Storm’.   There are other varieties of rudbekia, but this is the most popular variety grown, and for good reason.  It is hard to beat such a strong growing, beautiful flower.  It has performed well for many years.


Rudbekia fulgida, ‘Goldstrum’

Easy to grow, even in poor soil, but prefers a moist, loamy soil that drains well.

It takes drought well once established, but the leaves do droop some.

Likes full sun, but will grow in partial shade with fewer blossoms.

Hardy to zone 4 and below.

Grows to 2-3 feet high.

Has an upright habit.

It is long blooming, and bloom time is mid to late summer.

It multiplies readily into a large clump that will crowd out weeds.

I consider this perennial a ‘well-behaved’ perennial, though it can misbehave a bit.

It bears yellow, daisy-like flowers with dark brown-black centers.

The flowers can be up to 3 inches wide.

It bears in profusion, covering the clump in a glorious glow.

It can be propagated by root division in the early spring,

or by seed.  It has popped up in surprising places in the garden,

and is usually welcome.

It can be cut to the ground after it blooms,

or the seed heads can be left for winter interest and food for the birds.

I have found that there is some lack of vigor in the center of the clump after a number of years,

and the new, fresh outer edges need to be dug and plopped into the center to refresh it.

It can be used in meadow plantings, or mixed beds and borders,

and it makes a good cut flower.


I don’t know what there is to not love about it.  During the ‘magic’ light of twilight, it seems to ‘glow’.

And I don’t know which glows more- the blooming rudbekia, or the three beauties in the matching pink jumpers!  I’m thinking the three beauties!



Black-Eyed Susan

John Gay (1685-1732)

All in the Downs the fleet was moor’d

The streamers waving in the wind,

When black-eyed Susan came aboard;

“O! where shall I my true love find?

Tell me, ye jovial sailors, tell me true

If my sweet William sails among the crew.”


William, who high upon the yard

Rock’d with the billow to and fro,

Soon as her well-known voice he heard

He sigh’d, and cast his eyes below:

The cord slides swiftly through his glowing hands,

And quick as lightning on the deck he stands.


So the sweet lark, high poised in air,

Shuts close his pinions to his breast

If chance his mate’s shrill call he hear,

And drops at once into her nest:-

The noblest captain in the British fleet

Might envy William’s lip those kisses sweet.


O Susan, Susan, lovely dear,

My vows shall ever be true remain:

Let me kiss off that falling tear;

We only part to meet again.

Change as ye list, ye winds: my heart shall be

the faithful compass that still points to thee.


“Believe not what the landmen say

Who tempt with doubts thy constant mind:

They’ll tell thee, sailors, when away,

In every port a mistress find:

Yes, yes, believe them when they tell thee so,

for Thou art present wheresoe’er I go.


‘If to fair India’s coast we sail,

Thy eyes are seen in diamonds bright,

Thy breath is Afric’s spicy gale,

Thy skin is ivory so white.

Thus every beauteous object that I view

Wakes in my soul some charm of lovely Sue.


‘Though battle call me from thy arms

Let not my pretty Susan mourn;

Though cannons roar, yet safe from harms

William shall to his Dear return.

Love turns aside the balls that round me fly,

Lest precious tears should drop from Susan’s eye:


The boatswain gave the dreadful word,

The sails their swelling bosom spread,

No longer must she stay aboard;

They kiss’d, she sigh’d, he hung his head.

Her lessening boat unwilling rows to land;

‘Adieu!” she cries; and waved her lily hand.


There is another beloved flower mentioned in this poem.  Can you name it?  They say that this flower and rudbekia ‘Goldstrum’ make a beautiful color combination….I will have to try it!


Revelation 21:7

“He that overcometh shall inherit all things

and I will be his God,

and he shall be my son.”



  1. Barbara beat me to it. 🙂
    The story of how black eyed susans got their name is interesting. They grow wild here in Virginia too.

  2. I like your posts about flowers. I love black eyed susans.

  3. Sweet william

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Who am I ???

Child of God, pastors wife, mother of five, grandmother of ten (and counting), gardener, quilter, homemaker, reader, homebody and dreamer…

September 2017
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