Chris chose the perennial 'Black Eyed Susan' Rudbeckia to add more variety to this garden. There are perennial and annual types and both are valuable for adding colour to beds and borders. This colour range is limited to yellow, orange and mahogany red, but the flowers are large and plentiful. The key feature of these blooms is the prominent cone shaped disc at the centre usually but not always brown or near black. The range of varieties has been greatly extended in recent years, there are now dwarfs and double flowered ones as well as the old-fashioned tall single flowerd varieties.
The favourite border species is R. fulgida attaining a height of two to three feet and spacing is two feet apart. It has dark centred yellow flowers and the flowering period is from July to October. 'Goldsturm' attains a height of approximately two feet and has taken over from 'Speciosa' as the most popular variety.
Other perennial Rudbeckias to look out for include R. 'Herbstonne' attaing a height of six feet with single flowers and R. Iaciniata 'Hortensia' attaining a height of six feet with double flowers for the back of the border. For the middle of the border there is the more compact R. 'Goldquelle' attaining a height of approximately three feet with double flowers. Curiosities include R. occidentalis 'Green Wizard' which has green sepals instead of yellow petals around the black cone.
The annuals are varieties or hybrids of R. hirta that flower from August to October. The giant variety is 'Gloriosa Daisy' attaining a height of three feet with six to seven inch wide flowers. 'Marmalade' attains a height of approximately two feet and has orange petals and a purple black cone. 'Irish Eyes' has a green cone. 'Rustic Dwarfs' is a multicoloured mixture of single blooms. 'Goldilocks' bears semi-double and double flowers.
The dwarfs attaining a height of approximately eight inches include 'Becky', 'Sonora' and 'Toto'. They thrive best in sun or light shade and they need well drained soil. You can divide clumps in autumn or spring and for the annuals sow seeds in March in gentle heat and plant out in mid to late May.
Physalis 'Chinese Lanterns' are a great addition to any garden. The added bonus is the dried flowers arrangements you can create with this wonderful plant. The small white flowers have little decorative value, but the picture changes when autumn arrives and the leaves start to turn yellow.
Large papery structures expand around the fruits, producing golden or red Chinese lanterns hanging from the stems. A novelty in the garden but much more useful as dried plant material. Cut the stems in September, tie in small bunches and hang upside down in a cool place away from direct sunlight.
The usual variety is P. alkekengi 'Franchetii' attaining a height of approximately two feet with two inch long inflated calyces (lanterns).
The flowering period is from July to August and the fruiting period is from September to October. The varieties include 'Gigantea' (large lanterns) and 'Variegata' (yellow marked foliage). Creeping underground stems make this plant invasive. It will thrive in reasonable soil and full sun. To propagate divide clumps in autumn or spring.