Thursday, 9 August 2012

How Cliches Get That Way

Cary Grant said that cliches become cliches because they're true. Rudbeckia 'Goldsturm' and aster 'Mönch' or else 'Little Carlow' have become gardening cliches, or if you prefer a classic plant combination, because they work so well together. 

Rudbeckia fulgia 'Goldsturm'
Rudbeckia fulgia var. sulliviani  'Goldsturm',  photo by Lukas Riebling

Aster x frikartii ‘Mönch’'
 The two work so well together because the aster not only looks good with the rudbeckia, its blue cooling the  other's brassy yellow, but because it can stand up to the somewhat bullying demeanour of black-eyed susans, who tend to run at the roots. Although, having said that, 'Goldsturm' is pretty well behaved. It runs a bit, but not uncontrollably.

They`re also both extremely generous flowerers, going on and on from about July to October. They coexist well in the garden too, each finding its way into the other's arms.

They flower when blue is at a premium, while yellow is on discount. There must be some reason why there's so many yellow daisies around at that time of the year. I`ve always liked Carol Klein`s comment that if yellow is the colour of spirituality, then rudbeckia fulgida must be the most spiritual of all plants.

Here's another picture I found online while researching this. Those who find 'Goldsturm' and similar rudbeckias too strongly coloured might want to consider this pairing. These green-eyed susans, such as 'Irish Eyes' have a subtler colour, and in zones 7 and 8, will overwinter. I used to try to grow these next to my yellow daylilies and green-flowered kniphofia, but it was too shady, and they would end up flopping over on the grass. You can't help but love something that looks so cheerful and is so willing to flower, though.

Rudbeckia and Stokes' Aster
Rudbeckia and Stokes Aster by Melody Lee, Flickr
I haven`t tried to grow Stokes`aster, but it looks pretty in a powder-puff sort of way. It`s named for Dr. Johnathan  Stokes, a 19th century botanist. They also flower from July to October. (And, I`m sorry to say, Stokesia laevis is not really an aster.) Another name for it is the cornflower aster, and the flowers do look a lot like centaurea montana.

All the plants mentioned in this post are extremely easy to grow, and reward you with loads of flowers. So for once a cliche worth repeating?

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