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Rudbeckia fulgida Goldsturm – Black-eyed Susan

Black-eyed Susan ‘Goldsturm’ was discovered in Czechoslovakia in 1937 by Heinrich Hagemann, who was employed by the legendary plantsman Karl Foerster. World War II delayed the debut of Black-eyed Susan ‘Goldsturm’ until 1949. ‘Goldsturm’ translates to gold storm in German, and the name is apt; this Rudbeckia fulgida cultivar advances the eye through the landscape like a beacon.

Black-eyed Susan Goldsturm.
Black-eyed Susan Goldsturm.

Black-eyed Susan ‘Goldsturm’ (Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’) is the most famous of the black-eyed Susans.

Black-eyed Susan ‘Goldsturm’ was famously used in the 1980’s by landscape architecture firm Oehme van Sweden in mass plantings in Washington, D.C. that included large swaths of ornamental grasses and perennials. It took courage to use grasses and coarser plants, and ‘Goldsturm’ was front and center.  By the way, Oehme is pronounced ‘ur-ma’.

Some people may say that Black-eyed Susan ‘Goldsturm’ is too coarse to use in a refined garden. While the stridently golden-yellow color of ‘Goldsturm’ can overwhelm in great numbers, planting pockets of one or two plants tucked here and there can add spark to the midsummer garden. Great swaths of ‘Goldsturm’ in your own garden ala Oehme van Sweden are likely to overwhelm. Consider that Oehme van Sweden’s canvas was a large one, viewed from a further distance than the intimacy the smaller garden offers.

Every garden catalog online seems to recommend ‘Goldsturm’ as a meadow plant, but there are other native black-eyed Susans and coneflowers that would be both visually more cohesive and environmentally responsible in your meadow or prairie landscape.

Growing Black-eyed Susan ‘Goldsturm’
Easy to grow, ‘Goldsturm’ prefers sunny and warm, but will do fine in partial shade and is hardy zones 4-7. Grows as a clump 18″-24″, but ‘Goldsurm’ will spread if allowed to reseed freely. Seedlings are easily uprooted.

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