Every season has its own set of associated colours and oranges, yellows, reds and browns are definitely the tones for autumn. I love this time of the year; the colours only intensify as the nights get cooler. Garden mums are available in these colours and they’re so popular right now. But there are other plants that will bring the shades of fall to the garden. Rudbeckia hirta, aka Black-eyed Susan or Gloriosa Daisy, delivers big blooms in all variations of the above colours. They’re ideal for filling spaces vacated by annual bedding plants or for fall containers.
Technically Rudbeckia hirta is an annual in our valley, but they will survive for a few years during warmer winters. Not to worry, they’ll definitely self-seed if left in place until hard frosts. Plants do well in most soils, they’ll tolerate periods of drought and with their rough and hairy leaf surface they’re not attractive to deer. Plants will grow two to three feet tall and the blooms make long-lasting cut flowers. Plant them in full sun and pinch out the growing tips if you’re starting with small plants to promote branching and more flowers. The seed heads persist through the winter and are appreciated by winter birds.
A container filled with Black-eyed Susan on a sunny patio is a glorious sight in autumn. I planted a mix of these, plus ‘State Fair Mix’ zinnias and gazanias against the back wall of my house where temperatures reach well into the 30’s in summer. The big sunny yellow blooms of the rudbeckia look wonderful amongst the pinks, yellows, reds and oranges of the zinnias. I’ll just leave everything alone in this bed and let the seeds fall where they may so the same show can be repeated next year. You can find blooms with shades of mahogany and bronze as well as those ringed with dark centres, all surrounding the chocolate-black centres; an ideal combination of colours for a wonderful time of the year in our valley.

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