Black Eyed Susans

Look what I found growing in Paris.


It seemed like a reminder of home.


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.

13 comments on “Black Eyed Susans

  1. NebraskaDave says:

    Bill, ha, interesting post for Winter contemplation. I do love Back-eyed Susan flowers. It rates right up there with Hollyhocks and purple daisies. This year I’m going to try some bee balm to draw in the pollinators to Terra Nova Gardens.

    I heard an interview with a person that knew Elton John well. During the interview he said that it was not uncommon when Elton played the piano to hit the keys so hard that strings would break. I’ve never heard of a piano breaking strings except for him. He is an amazing entertainer for sure.

    Have a great Black-eyed Susan memory day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bill says:

      Elton John was my favorite artist back in the early to mid 1970’s. I loved his music and his crazy style. Many years later my wife and I saw him in concert in Tampa. He put on a great show and even dug deep into his archives for the benefit of old-timers like us. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. shoreacres says:

    We sometimes forget that our native plants did a bit of traveling, too. All the species of Rudbeckia are native to North America, and were carried to Europe by settlers. They apparently took hold in England first, and then jumped the Channel, where you found some in Paris. I was surprised to see how many cultivars have been developed. There are a couple of species that predominate here — I suppose Rudbeckia hirta is the most common. They are a bright spot of sunshine, aren’t they?

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Black-eyed Susan is M’s favorite flower so we will be planting them out at the farm. The bullseye is pretty cool – I did not know about that.
    I was a huge Elton John fan at age twelve too. ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’ was my very first album. I memorized the words to every song – and you may recall it was a double album!
    Thanks for the memories…


    • Bill says:

      I loved that record too. I knew every word too (still do actually). I used to play it in my room over and over. But Honky Chateau was my first Elton John album and that’s the record this song came off of. Such a long time ago…


  4. avwalters says:

    Ah yes, Black-eyed Susan, our deeply rooted late season pollinator friend. Paired with goldenrod, it makes for a deeply colored, strong and rich flavored honey. Don’t know how it happened, but somehow I missed the Elton John connection.


  5. And, I might add, Bill, used by Native Americans for snakebite! –Curt


  6. Bob Bushell says:

    The flowers are tremendous Bill.


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