Category Archives: Hmm…

Rudbeckia Hirta

This year my garden exploded literally with Rudbeckia hirta aka Black-eyed Susan (terrible name by the way when you think about it) RRGH!  But legend has it, the name did not refer to violence upon Susan but rather it referred to an Old English poem describing a dark eyed woman Susan, looking for the love of her life on a ship going into battle. Pretty interesting huh 😊

So I would say the excessive masses of this particular plant in our gardens, probably had something to do with all of that rain earlier in the season.  My Mom and I attend an annual garden tour and this year one of the gardens featured unique and familiar herbs and yes some were in the form of what we would consider typical garden flowers or wildflowers, and guess what? The Black-eyed Susan was featured as a herb in this garden and labelled for its medicinal benefits.  I must say out all the herbs we were exposed to in this beautiful garden I did not expect this plant to be on the list, but it is actually an herb!


This plant is in the Asteraceae Family (Aster family) and is to say the least a cheerful and widespread wildflower, for some it is considered an annual for others a short lived perennial. It’s characteristics are bright-yellow, 2-3 inch wide daisy like flowers with dark centers which is it’s claim to fame. They are indigenous to many areas of the United States and were introduced into Europe after Columbus’ visits. They were named by Linnaeus in 1753 , he gave them the Latin name Rudbeckia Hirta after his mentor Olaf Rudbeck and hirta means rough and hairy. The leaves are alternate and mostly basal covered by coarse hairs, so hirta makes sense.


Native Americans used the plant to wash sores and soak swellings, it was a poultice for snake bites, treating worms and for children with colds.  A poultice is just a soft, moist mass of material usually made out of plant material or flour. They also used it as a diuretic to increase the flow of urine and extracted juice from the root to treat earaches.


Recent studies state that the extract from the root of this plant can help benefit the immune system and can stimulate higher effects than Echinacea.

Rudbeckia Hirta is the floral emblem of the State of Maryland


and each year this flower shines in full glory for the world to see as a drape made of hundreds of black eyed susans placed on the back of the horse that wins the Preakness; one of the second jewels of the triple crown of horse racing. This year’s winner was War of Will in May of 2019 won at the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, MD. Notice the flowers on the horse, had you ever paid attention to which flower it was before?


In our area it is a annual that self seeds prolifically (therefore we THINK its an perennial but that’s another lesson to be learned 😊) It grows in full sun or partial shade.  It is drought, heat and soil tolerant.  My kind of plant, LOL!!!  Seeds can be planted in the spring after the threat of frost has long gone, seeds can be planted about ¼ inch deep and the seeds germinate in about 2 weeks.  Separate plants by at least 8 inches apart.  These plants will produce flowers by mid-summer and will continue to bloom until the first hard frost. Now is a great time to harvest seed heads and you could share them at our seed exchange in November.  What a great way to share a plant with so many hidden benefits, it definitely makes me look at this plant differently now, it is not only beautiful visually in its massive wonder but beneficial to us as well internally in promoting a healthier immune system. It is for sure listed in my book as a whole body plant to enjoy both in mind, body and soul.  Till next time, get out there and get dirty in the garden!

Photo credits: NBC, Chestnutherb, Eden Brothers, Google pics. 

Spring Clean Up Find

I don’t know about you but it’s been a challenge doing Spring Clean Up with all of this liquid sunshine.  The good news is I managed to get in about 8 hours of clean up recently and to my surprise found some new friends in the garden. One in particular made me shout out for joy, the unwonted(for my garden that is) Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum) hidden behind a nice pile of winter decorative foliage aka, a disassembled winter wreath or swag of some sort under a pretty dense shrub. Once that was all cleared out; there in an eye’s view was this little beauty, quite tall and proud indeed!  I was quite surprise it had not been damaged in my not so careful removal of the winter debris since I did not think anything was there to be cautious about. I’m still trying to figure out how it got there, but we will get to that later 🙂


So Jack-in-the-pulpit is a pretty cool looking plant for sure, it’s botanical name is Arisaema triphyllum as I mentioned earlier, it is phonetically pronounced air-iss-EE-muh  try-FY-lum. We need to practice our Latin pronunciation of the true botanical names when we can, so count this as today’s lesson, LOL.  

Anyway, this herbaceous perennial plant grows from a corm, which could have three parted leaves and a flower contained in a spathe.  Ok let’s break it down a bit; a corm is a rounded underground storage organ that some plants use to survive winter or other extreme conditions such as a summer drought and high heated temperatures sometimes experienced in nature; it has a swollen stem base covered with scale leaves. You will also find corms in crocuses, gladioli and cyclamen. Corms are also called bulbo-tuber or bulbotuber it is short, vertical and a swollen modified stem, other types of modified stems are rhizomes, tuber, stolons, and bulbs.

Illustation of an elephant's ear corm, with the following associated parts identified: remnants of tunic, lateral bud, fleshy roots, node, new developing corm, and flower stem.

Photo of a gladiolus plant, with the old and new corms, and cormel identified.

The bloom consist of a very deep cylindrical pouch called a spathe- the “pulpit” it will have alternating strips of lighter and darker green sometimes purple.  When you lift up the flap at the top of the spathe you will see a round headed slender spike this is our friend “Jack” this spike is called a spadix.


If the plant has three parted leaves it is usually a male and at the base of the spadix will be thread like male flowers that yield yellow pollen, if it is large and has only two parted leaves it is a female and at the base of it’s spadix will be tiny green berry like structures. In the female once the flowers have faded a cluster of bright red berries will appear and last till the end of summer. These seeds will seed themselves or you can remove them and plant elsewhere. The female is called Jill-in-the-pulpit.


My guy is definitely a boy.


Jack-in-the-pulpit is pollinated by tiny fungus flies that are attracted to the flowers by a faint odor that smells like mushrooms. The flies enter at the top of the spathe are trapped and then covered with pollen, once they relax they realize they can exit at the base of the spathe by leaving thru a small slit.

Fungus Gnat

So I’m not sure how my flower ended up in my front garden, I could have planted it there maybe two years ago cause that’s when I remember a friend sharing it but this was the first time I’ve ever seen one survive the transplant.

There are two other reasons it may have emerged this season one could be all of this consistent liquid sunshine, the end of the winter heavy rains apparently has a lot to do with mature plants (which take about two years to grow) sprouting into big healthy blossoms. That particular area of the garden gets soaked due to a never ending clogged gutter and poor landscape grading; at least this flower brought joy amidst the trials of this soggy area.

Secondly, it could have ended up in this area due to a local native creature; a box turtle.  Yup, that’s right our native eastern box turtle is known to transplant these flowers via seed disbursement passing thru their digestive tracts. They love muck gardens, that are wet,with lots of leaf litter, trees and shrubs to hide in, with a little area to sunbathe too, which is totally the description of this front area. They also transplant may apples which might explain my explosion of may apples on the other side of the house. So yeah Mr. Turtle might be the culprit.  How cool is that! I’m leaning towards the latter reason, since I don’t remember putting it there (cause I sort of keep a semi-good log of where I plant stuff) plus it sounds better saying the turtle put it there, LOL what gardener wouldn’t want to tell that story (giggling) thanks Mr. Turtle 🙂

Eastern Box Turtle ( Terrapene carolina carolina ) -  I've been hoping to photograph a Box Turtle pretty much since I bought my camera... so it's kinda funny that it's taken me almost four years to happen upon one.  This was a pretty large specimen and I've read they can live for anywhere from 50 to 100 years.  So in reality, this turtle could be much older than even me...

Either way, it is now there, it’s been documented as such and shared with the world so let’s see what happens next year.

Lastly, not sure why its called Jack-in-the-pulpit, some say maybe it was named after a clergyman named Jack.  The finger like spadix that sticks up standing in the spathe  resembles a man of the cloth standing in a church pulpit, preaching to the garden, LOL. It has other names such as bog onion (since onions are corms), wild turnip, brown dragon and Indian turnip.  I think we all agree Jack-in-the-pulpit sounds more intriguing and just plain fun!

Well, if you don’t get to church regularly and you want to find some peace in your life for just a moment and you are fortunate enough to have this unique flower in your garden, just go sit next to it, observe it, and let it teach you a spiritual lesson from nature’s pulpit of taking the time to slow down, chill and enjoy the amazing and wonderful creations from God above, because no human in all their abilities to create things on earth could ever copy this wonderful specimen!

Till we meet again, get out there, get dirty and enjoy gardening.


Tiny Amazements

Our club member Patti just loves all things miniature, she was gifted this tiny potted treasure by another club member who knows just how much miniatures bring her joy.  We all were fascinated and amazed by this tiny treasure.


Yes it’s real!! A miniature hens and chicks called Sempervivum.  Sempervivum literally means “live forever” because they propagate and grow so easily.  These succulents have been called semps, hens and chicks and houseleeks there are over 3,000 cultivars; so whatever you choose to call them, they are amazing and in this case a truly tiny amazement.