Before I begin this post, let me say thank you to all of you who voted on the photo choices offered up in last Friday’s post. This time, there was no difficulty in determining the winners. About 90% of the voters chose A over B and C over D, and about 75% chose E over F. I appreciate both the votes and the very thoughtful explanations many of you included along with your choices. Thank you.
The black-eyed Susan may be the quintessential wildflower species. If you asked a young student to draw a picture of a wildflower, chances are the result would look something like a black-eyed Susan – a ring of petals around a dark circular center. As a photographer, I certainly appreciate the flower’s aesthetic appeal, and find myself drawn to photograph it frequently. This July was no different, and I ended up with quite a few black-eyed Susan photos, some of which are included below.
As with many of our showiest wildflowers, black-eyed Susans are most abundant a year or two after an event that weakens competition from dominant grasses. Drought and grazing are both good candidates for that kind of event, and many of the black-eyed Susans we’re seeing this summer benefited from the 2012 drought and the grazing we used as a management tool that year. As short-lived perennials, they can germinate and bloom quickly when provided with a little open space, light, and moisture. They are also an easy flower to grow in my yard, and they generally produce enough seed and new plants that I don’t ever have to replant them.
Most of the black-eyed susan flowers in our prairies will be done blooming within the next couple of weeks, though some stragglers will probably continue on through the end of the month. When they’re done, we’ll venture out to harvest seed from them (wearing gloves to protect the thinner-skinned sides of our fingers from the sharp hairs on the stems) and spread them in some of our degraded prairies where we’ve weakened grasses with this year’s grazing. Many species we overseed in that manner take a few years to bloom, but black-eyed Susans usually don’t make us wait very long. I look forward to seeing an abundance of them next year!