My children first spied Rudbeckia at Cullen Gardens and Miniature Village in Whitby. They thought that was a wonderful name for a flower since it combined their version of the names of our family pets, Ruddy and Becky. In reality, Rudbeckia was named after two 18th century botanists.
The flower mysteriously arrived in my garden last summer. I didn’t plant it. It may have been borne on the wind or sown by the wings of a bird. Despite the mystery of its origin, I treasure and nurture it. The bright yellow flowers with their dark centre are beautiful. It is a valuable native plant for the pollinators who frequently visit my garden.
This wildflower, native to North America, is also commonly known as Black-Eyed Susan. It is named after a love poem by John Gay (1685-1732). Sweet William is a sailor. He reaffirms his faithful love and devotion to Black-Eyed Susan who briefly comes on board to visit him just prior to a departure. Their story of love underlines the challenges in a time when uncertainty and separation lie ahead.
O Susan, Susan, lovely dear,excerpt Black-Eyed Susan -John Gay
My vows shall ever true remain;
Let me kiss off that falling tear;
We only part to meet again.
Change as ye list, ye winds; my heart shall be
The faithful compass that still points to thee.
The classic poem found its way into art and folk music. In recent recordings by Anna and Elizabeth, hauntingly beautiful music brings the poetry to life.
As a new time of uncertainty continues to evolve in our day, lovers, including those who live in the same cities, are often parted. Relationships may feel the strain of doubt. Wedding ceremonies are quickly changed or postponed.
To those who long to be together yet remain apart, I offer the tale of love and devotion of Black-Eyed Susan and her true love, Sweet William. I believe their love story has a happy ending. They only part to meet again.