I can’t remember how many times I have grown Rudbeckia hirta ‘Rustic Dwarfs’. It is a garden staple for so many reasons. It is long flowering, easy to grow, is tall enough to cut and for mixing in the border as well as in bedding beds and I like the mix of colours. It is also cheap. The downside is that, like all cheap annuals, the stock is not well maintained and there is often variation in the predicted 60cm height and often the flowers have relatively few petals (ray florets). This year there are even some with quilled ‘petals’ like the strain ‘Chim Chiminee’ which I know is popular but I am not a fan of.
Rudbeckia hirta is strictly perennial and, perhaps, in a milder climate and with very well drained soil it may survive, but in the UK and Ireland it should be grown as a half hardy annual.
Anyway, I was looking at the beds today and noticed one plant that is unlike any I have seen before.
Unlike most rudbeckias, the dark area of the petals is not around the central ‘cone’ but at the tip of the petal. This means there is a pale, yellow zone around the cone to give a really striking effect. I could be irrationally excited about this and it may be common but I have never seen anything like it. Even better the plant has a good habit and the flowers are of good shape and size. This is unlike the sensational ‘Cherry Brandy’ which, though a new colour, has small flowers, in my experience, and although a novelty, is not a plant I would grow often.
I need to hone my seed-saving skills to try to keep this one going and I may even try to keep the plant over winter.