Saturday, April 08, 2006


Noah was in first grade, it was the Friday before Mothers Day. I went to pick him up at school, and stood outside Mrs. Johnson's classroom with a gaggle of other mothers. Each child was clutching a styrofoam cup and looking very proud. There was a bit of a scuffle as Ali elbowed Noah to get out the door ahead of him. Noah's cup went flying, when it landed on the hall floor, there was a small pile of potting soil and a tiny green seedling, a Black-eyed Susan.

"No problem, we can put this back together and it will be just fine." Back then, he believed everything I said, but in fact I wasn't very sure. We stuffed the plant back in the cup, dumped the soil on top, and headed home.

A little over two years later, Mrs. Johnson walked by the house one day when I was working in the front yard. She told me how much she liked my garden, and I invited her to see the "real" garden, in the back. I think that was the first time I noticed that my garden was full of Rudbeckia. There were pure yellow, yellow streaked with orange, red with yellow markings, and every possible combination of yellow, red and orange imaginable.

This was twenty years ago, and Noah's Black-eyed Susans still hold sway in my gardens. I eventually started pulling a few of them, for their own sake as well as to leave some room for other plants, but I always have hugh drifts of these. I collect unusual perennials, and have lots of favorites, but I can't say that there's a nicer, more hardworking plant in my garden than Noah's Black-eyed Susans.


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