Black Eyed Susans

Look what I found growing in Paris.

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It seemed like a reminder of home.

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Thousands of miles away a week earlier, on White Flint Farm. These were showing their late summer age.

Just before going on vacation I’d read this interesting post on Margie’s Garden, all about black-eyed Susans. Evidently English colonists gave them their name, taking it from a popular poem of the day, “Black Eyed Susan” by John Gay. The poem begins:

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.’

So perhaps Sweet William originates with that poem too.

Shortly after returning from vacation I read this moving poem, by Bussokuseki

the rudbeckia aren’t usually still in bloom,
so close to my birthday,
and even these are brittle –
but in the patch near the small gravel pile,
perhaps sheltered by the overgrown viburnum,
a few stragglers remain.

if I’d noticed them last year I might have arranged
one more vase
and placed it by her bedside,
so she could have turned her head
and thought to herself,
how I love those black-eyed susans.

A few days ago this year’s Fedco catalog arrived. I always look forward to reading it. This time I came across this blurb:

Black-eyed Susan seems demure enough to human eyes, but she’s slyly signaling her availability to the pollinators of the garden. Bees and other insects that are able to perceive ultraviolet colors can clearly see a highlighted bullseye guiding them in the center of each flower.

It’s funny though. Whenever I think of black-eyed Susans, what pops into my mind are not photos, poems, or scientific or historical facts. Instead I’m reminded of being a 12 year old country boy, and believing that Elton John was the coolest man on the planet.

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