Yellow is the Color of August


If each month were assigned an official color, August’s would be yellow. This is when yellow daisies of all sorts come to dominate, at least in our garden. Some cranky botanists refer to the ubiquitous yellow daisies as DYCs, or Damn Yellow Composites.

View of our house from the street, August 26th.

They are composites because each of the dots in the center is its own tiny flower. Those are called the disc flowers, while each petal is called the ray flower.

Myself, I don’t think there’s anything to be cranky about. All these glowing yellow blooms seems perfect for the time of year. Plus, they have a splendid variety.


Some have black button centers and short blunt rays, like Brown-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia triloba).


Others have long, horizontal rays and a richer color, like Orange Coneflower (Rudbeckia fulgida).


Others have droopy, golden-yellow rays and green protruding centers, like Golden Glow aka Cutleaf Coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata).


Some have a bright clear yellow like Cup Plant (Silphium perfoliatum).

Some might say that these are differences without distinction. It’s all in the eye of the beholder, of course. My own excitement about the variation in summer’s yellow daisies makes me more sympathetic toward the galanthophiles, who seem to find exquisite pleasure in barely noticeable variations among Snowdrops. But clearly, people in glass greenhouses shouldn’t throw stones.


Anyhow, here’s a view of the sidewalk in front of our house. The Rudbeckias, particularly Brown-Eyed Susan, pretty much take over the Parkway Bed at this time of year. I let them romp but cut them back hard, which they take absolutely in stride.


And here’s a view of the street from behind the Sidewalk Border. The Monardas are mainly seedheads by now. Happily there has been only a minimum of downy mildew.


Another nice thing about yellow flowers is how they glow when backlit by the sun.


Not every yellow flower at this time of year is a daisy. I’ve got a handful of flowers on the young Wild Senna (Cassia hebecarpa) growing in the Sidewalk Border.


I’m eager to see how big it gets next year.


And there are oodles of yellow umbels on the tall Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) in the Herb Bed. Also not a few Black Swallowtail caterpillars.

Mexican Sunflower

A gardener cannot live by yellow alone, even in August, so a sprinkling of orange makes a satisfying addition.

What’s your favorite yellow flower of August?

61 Comments on “Yellow is the Color of August”

  1. Galanthophiles can get a bit ridiculous. Yet, I do the same with rhododendrons because they were our main crop. I still do the same with apricots and prunes because I grew up with them.
    I would not have thought of August as having a color. It is a slow time for color here. Much of what is yellow there was probably yellow here in July. I do not have a favorite. Most of my favorite flowers are white anyway. Yet, I do happen to like the big old fashioned bright yellow sunflowers! They are so traditional and so Okie and so summery!

  2. I don’t actually have any DYCs in my garden. The Susans aren’t quite drought tolerant enough to make it through our very dry summers with the tiny lick of water I’m willing to give them. I might try some Coreopsis in a meadow planting I’m putting into an area that I’m redoing this fall. I might give both cup plant and compass plant a try next year, their large stature intrigues me. Oh, there’s a yellow Echinacea I want to try from seed too — E. paradoxa. I find Echinacea to be more drought tolerant than Rudbeckia.

  3. Your garden is truly magnificent now!…that’s not to say it is already gorgeous but those Rudbeckias, wow!!! Rudbeckia triloba is my absolute favorite but I’m really fond of Cup Plant and Compass Plant too.

    About the DYC …I can’t speak for other botanists, but for me that’s kind of a tongue-in-cheek joke.

  4. It looks as if the sun is sitting in your garden. Rudis of any sort make me happy. They are so reliable and thumb their pretty petals at drought or soaking wet. I also like the elegant soft yellow of Bronze Fennel.

  5. DYC was one of the first ‘botanical’ terms I learned. I still resort to it from time to time, and it still makes me laugh. As for the yellows I like, I’d have to say that another senna, Senna lindheimeriana, and partridge pea Chamaecrista fasciculata are two of my favorites. Of course the sunflowers, coneflowers, and such are lovely, but around here they’re only hanging on. It’s seed collecting time on the coastal prairie.

  6. I shared this on Facebook, adding:

    “I just walked out back and surveyed my land of yellow: sunflowers and sunchokes (helianthus); black-eyed susan (Rudbeckia); sneezeweed (Helenium); rosin weed, compass plant and cup plant (silphium); several species of goldenrod and even the leaves of the walnut trees.

    What is blooming other than yellow? The purple of ironweed is a lovely pop of color. The white blooms of wild quinine are holding their own. The rain garden yields blue lobelia, a white aster, Joe Pye, and white turtlehead.”

  7. Though I don’t grow any DYC, I can’t imagine August without them. I love seeing them and I can just imagine how magical it must be to walk down the sidewalk in front of your house. I was amused to realize that even though my garden is quite different than yours, the big bloomers at the moment are also yellow: Steeple Jackie daylily and Kirengeshome palmata.

  8. I love the DYC and you don’t miss a trick where flowers are concerned. A bit of variegated foliage would provide a nice complement to your blooms. Picture a clump of zebra grass (Miscanthus zebrinus) for example, which would also provide a vertical accent and an additional foliage texture.

    • I have some tall grasses – Switchgrass and Sea Oats – though I have to confess they get somewhat obscured by all the tall flowers. By the way, congratulations on your new transitions. I tried to comment on your blog but I think I might have ended up in your spam folder.

  9. I’ve not been a big fan of yellow in the garden in the past, but I’ve warmed up to it a lot over the last year or so. In our garden, yellow doesn’t really dominate as it is mixed in the pinks & whites of Joe Pye Weed, phlox & hydrangeas.

  10. I love your garden full of yellow flowers. So cheerful and I beacon to pollinators. I only have one yellow flowering plant. The Golden Thryallis which is right outside my window by my computer. I love the bright glow and the cardinals love hiding in it!

  11. Hello Jason, several of those DYC’s are going to be put in the large semi-circular border that we’re planning. For the moment though, we don’t have much in flower. What’s yellow are roses (which are a pale yellow) and we’ll soon be having ginger lilies in flower too, with their incredible exotic-looking and scented flowers. Of course, we have orange and yellow marigolds too!

  12. Many rudbeckias do not thrive or overwinter well on my silty soil. On the other hand the giant Helianthuses do superbly well and mine is a really yellow August. We have a long line of them in the adjacent farm field – in August a yellow ‘hedge’. Much better than the original nettles! The butterflies and bees love them.
    Another composite we adore are large chocolate leaved dahlias which are reliably perennial outside in the ground here in York UK

  13. Oh yes, they do look gorgeous backlit by the sun! I agree: The color of August (in the Midwest, anyway) would have to be yellow. When do you cut back the R. trilobas? I planted some at a pollinator garden where I volunteer, and they’re super gorgeous right now but I want to cut them back soon before they seed everywhere. I only have R. hirta here at home.

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