The Yale campus is dotted with signs proclaiming “Urban Meadow” – patches of landscape, planted with wildflower seeds and sparsely tended. The unkempt appearance of some of these plots may be a little tough to get used to, but this “Meadow” (about a mile from downtown New Haven) is a wonder to behold — a sea of Black-Eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta) in full bloom.
Rudbeckia hirta, a plant native to all the lower 48 states, is a member of the aster family. It can tolerate a wide range of soils and temperatures, and has no major insect or disease pests. You can read more about Rudbeckia hirta on this USDA factsheet.
Its flowers attract nectar seeking bees, butterflies, and insects. Its seeds attract birds, as the poop-covered sign above attests. The companion website to the movie Queen of the Sun: What are the bees telling us? recommends planting a large volume of the same type of bee-friendly flowers in your garden or yard to provide bees with forage. One of the suggestions is Rudbeckia hirta.
These plants bloom from June to October. Note that they do tend to crowd out other flowers growing near them. But if you love Black-Eyed Susans, have lots of sun and plenty of space, and don’t have time to weed, Rudbeckia hirta is the plant for you.
This particular Urban Meadow is located on upper Prospect Street near the northern border of Yale’s main campus, in front of the planetarium, nestled between Farnam Gardens and Betts House.