This striking variety of Black Eyed Susan is one of my favourite plants. Discovered in 1937 by Heinrich Hagemann at Gebrueder Schuetz’s nursery in the Czech Republic and propagated by Karl Foerster of Potsdam, Germany, the début of Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii ‘Goldsturm’ was delayed until 1949 because of World War II.
Once released, this beautiful and easy to grow perennial took the gardening world by storm (pun intended). Compact, sturdy and floriferous, Rudbeckia Goldsturm tolerates a range of conditions, preferring full sun and well-drained soil. They grow 18-30’ tall, with a spread of around 24”, and may be propagated by seed, division or stem cuttings.
Blooming mid summer into the fall, they’re beautiful combined with ornamental grasses like Stipa tenuissima, Calamagrostis Karl Foerster, or any of the multitudes of miscanthus. Even after the blooms have faded, the seed heads provide textural interest (and seeds for the birds) well into winter. I usually cut them down when winter windstorms or snowfall has battered them into an untidy mess.
In my front garden this year they are blooming alongside scarlet and deep burgundy dahlias, and although I usually detest red and yellow combinations, the warm golden hue of Rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’ works well with the dahlias and together they ooze autumnal ambience.
In 1999, the Perennial Plant Association selected Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii ‘Goldsturm’ as the Perennial Plant of the Year. Not surprising given the low maintenance requirements, cold hardiness and exceptional performance of this reliable perennial. No wonder it’s one of my favourite plants!