Friday, October 3, 2008

Rudbeckia 'Henry Eilers'

Well, I've done it! I've found ANOTHER new favorite plant. Are you surprised? I didn't think so. This time it's a Rudbeckia.
Rudbeckia is a genus that I have always been incredibly fond of. Rudbeckias get a bad rap sometimes because of the market saturation by 'Goldsturm' (which is an outstanding plant, by the way.) There are, however, a LOT of other rudbeckias out there, many of which are simply fabulous garden plants. 'Henry Eilers' is no exception.

I first saw this plant on a garden tour in Columbus, OH about a year ago and was incredibly impressed by it then. We were able to get a few plants of it this spring at the garden center and I planted a few in the display garden where it performed very satisfactorily and was stunning this fall when paired with the royal purple berries of the American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) that it had woven its way through during the course of the summer.

Where it really performed, though, was in the garden at Christ Church Cathedral in downtown Nashville. I'm not sure if it was the exposure, the irrigation, the good soil, the extra fertilizer or a "perfect storm" of all of the above, but 'Henry Eilers' was the buzz of the garden from July onward and is just now (Oct. 3) finishing up its show!

It's a little taller than some rudbeckias, but considerably shorter than others, so it makes a nice middle-of-the-border plant. When it reaches blooming height, about 4 feet, it's just a tiny bit on the lax side, so I'd recommend pairing it with something shorter and sturdier in front of it that will give it a bit of support. Or pair it with a shrub like the beautyberry in a way that the stems of the rudbeckia can grow up just through the edge of the shrub and be supported that way. Otherwise, you may have to stake. (Well worth any effort it might take.)

In the display garden at Moore & Moore ( it was in a leaner, drier part of the bed, so that may have accounted for it being just slightly, slightly less showy. In the other location it was in the richest, blackest, most organic, well-fertilized and irrigated soil we could give it and it absolutely shined! You can see for yourself in the photos above, and I think you'll agree. Put this one on your list for next year! See you in the garden!

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