Friday 15 November 2019

'Goldsturm' ticks all the right flower boxes

SOME plants just have what it takes to become a popular garden flower. It must be easy to grow, not fussy about soil, robust when it comes harsh weather, pest and disease resistant, and most important of all, produce quality flowers of good size and shape over a long flowering period.

Rudbeckia 'Goldsturm' ticks all the boxes and it is now widely seen in gardens. The name is German for golden storm. Rudbeckias are native to North America, where they are found growing in moist grassland and open light woodland.

The name Rudbeckia honours a Swedish botanist called Rudbeck. The original plant of 'Goldsturm' was found by a German nurseryman in a nursery in the Czech Republic and it was eventually named and released in Germany.

'Goldsturm' is about 60cm tall, an ideal height that has helped to make it popular in gardens. In August and September, it makes a clump of long-lasting, flat-topped daisies that make a pool of bright golden-yellow, a warm deep shade.

In nature, the daisy flower shape is very striking and effective in attracting pollinating insects. The central cone of the flowers is deep chocolate-brown, almost black, which makes a strong contrast with the yellow petals, eye-catching and very distinctive.

There are other kinds of rudbeckia, much bigger, such as the variety 'Herbstsonne', which makes a big mound of leaves topped out with large daisy flowers at two metres tall. The double-flowered, dahlia-like 'Goldquelle' is pale yellow and about half that height. These rudbeckias are also very hardy.

There are annual rudbeckias too, used for bedding purposes. These are grown from seeds each spring and discarded after the summer, as they are so easy to raise and quick to develop. There is a range of varieties, many of which are red or red-brown as well as yellow. Most have black or dark-brown cones.

Rudbeckias of all kinds look very well when planted with other daisies. Their strong yellows look great with dahlias, also part of the daisy family. They sparkle with any sort of grasses or sedges, which makes sense because rudbeckias were prairie plants originally. Annual rudbeckias are great fillers in front of grasses. Blue agapanthus flowers make a fine contrast with the yellow shades.

While 'Goldsturm' and the rest are easy to grow in any reasonably good garden soil, they like full sunshine to flower best, and soil that does not dry too much in summer, which can cause wilting and shortens the life of the flowers.

Sunday Independent

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