H. Perennial & Old Fashioned Garden Plants & Flowers by John Wood
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Rudbeckia Californica - Hardy Perennial
Author: John Wood
Rudbeckia Californica Described.
Rudbeckia Californica - Californian Cone-flower; Nat. Ord. Compositæ.
This, in all its parts, is a very large and showy subject; the flowers are 3in. to 6in. across, in the style of the sunflower. It has not long been grown in English gardens, and came, as its name implies, from California: it is very suitable for association with old-fashioned flowers, being nearly related to the genus Helianthus, or sunflower. It is not only perfectly hardy in this climate, which is more than can be said of very many of the Californian species, but it grows rampantly and flowers well. It is all the more valuable as a flower from the fact that it comes into bloom several weeks earlier than most of the large yellow Composites. Having stated already the size of its flower, I need scarcely add that it is one of the showiest subjects in the garden; it is, however, as well to keep it in the background, not only on account of its tallness, but also because of its coarse abundant foliage.
It grows 4ft. to 6ft. high, the stems being many-branched. The flowers have erect stout stalks, and vary in size from 3in. to 6in. across, being of a light but glistening yellow colour; the ray is somewhat unevenly formed, owing to the florets being of various sizes, sometimes slit at the points, lobed, notched, and bent; the disk is very bold, being nearly 2in. high, in the form of a cone, whence the name "cone flower." The fertile florets of the disk or cone are green, and produce an abundance of yellow pollen, but it is gradually developed, and forms a yellow ring round the dark green cone, which rises slowly to the top when the florets of the ray fall; from this it will be seen that the flowers last a long time. The leaves of the root are sometimes a foot in length and half as broad, being oval, pointed, and sometimes notched or lobed; also rough, from a covering of short stiff hairs, and having once-grooved stout stalks 9in. or more long; the leaves of the stems are much smaller, generally oval, but of very uneven form, bluntly pointed, distinctly toothed, and some of the teeth so large as to be more appropriately described as segments; the base abruptly narrows into a very short stalk. The flowers of this plant are sure to meet with much favour, especially while the present fashion continues; but apart from fashion, merely considered as a decorative subject for the garden, it is well worth a place. There are larger yellow Composites, but either they are much later, or they are not perennial species, and otherwise this one differs materially from them.
I need not say anything respecting this form of flower in a cut state—its effectiveness is well known. If planted in ordinary garden loam it will hold its place and bloom freely year after year without further care. Smaller subjects should not be set too near it; it may be unadvisable to plant too many clumps in the same garden, but it can be allowed to spread into one bold patch. The best time to divide or transplant is in early spring, when growth is just pushing, for vigorous as this and many other perennials are, I have often found them to rot, when the dormant roots, after being cut into pieces, have had to face the winter.
Flowering period, July to September.
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