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.
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.
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?
Oh, yes! Black-eyed Susans never fail to delight.
I couldn’t get by without them.
This year mine had a lot of foiliage but not many flowers. Have you ever had that problem?
Not with Rudbeckias.
Now the leaves have some kind of blight. I am thinking that I will probably have to dig them up and start over.
There’s a fungal disease that’s common with Rudbeckia, turns the leaves black. But it’s not permanent. If you get rid of the leaves the plants may come back healthy the next year.
Thanks so much for the advice. I’ll give it a try this week. Much easier than digging up all the plants.
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!
We all have our plant obsessions. Yes, I love sunflowers of all kinds – perennial and annual. If only I had more space …
If you had more space, it would only get filled up.
And your point is?
If that happens, the finches will get too fat to fly.
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.
You may be right. I noticed the Rudbeckias were getting droopy while we were going through a very dry spell this summer.
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.
Oh, so it’s botanical irony! Rudbeckia triloba is certainly my favorite Rudbeckia, those clouds of little flowers are irresistible.
Oops, that should have read:
“That’s not to say it isn’t already gorgeous” !!!
Your neighbors must really love the garden!
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.
I can’t imagine a garden without Rudbeckias.
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.
I also love Sunflowers, but the perennial ones are not a good fit for my garden, and the space that might have gone to Sunflowers goes to Tithonia instead.
Wow–your garden is beautiful and the headline doesn’t mince words: yellow really is the color of the month!
I wonder if you can say that every month has a color. I kind of think that the color of June is blue,, because of Baptisia, Mertensia, Tradescantia, etc.
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.”
Thank you for sharing! Our goldenrods are mostly late this year, only Solidago odora is blooming so far.
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.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen Kirengeshoma palmata in bloom, just the foliage.
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.
I’d say Jason yellow is the color of August and September. because of yellow leaves. My favorite yellow flower is Ligularia dentata . Its yellow ‘candles’ are seen from far.
That Ligularia is a beauty.
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.
For me yellow is a cheerful color, though not as rich and exciting as orange.
I sort of agree about August being yellow although it isn’t in my garden. March is yellow too because of the Narcissus.
For me, March is more multi-colored because of the Snowdrops and Crocuses.
Those come in February for me. So it’s all very localized, this colour thing.
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!
Houston has such a different climate, the seasonal color associations must also be very different.
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!
No yellow roses here, though a pale yellow rose sounds very nice, especially if it’s fragrant.
When you’re out in the field trying to identify them yellow flowers can make you crazy.
My wild senna is about 4 feet tall and blooming like mad.
I think the challenge of identifying and distinguishing all the many yellow daisy flowers is what inspired the expression DYC.
Love all of your yellow flowers. Yellow does seem to be the color for the end of summer.
And autumn is more multi-colored, don’t you think? Yellow combined with red and orange, plus the blue and purple asters.
Your garden looks incredible, especially considering it’s so late in the season. How do you do that? Have you ever grown Helenium flexuosom? It’s my go-to DYC for summer, since the deer and rabbits don’t eat it. It’s native. Go for it.
I have grown – do grow – some of the Helenium cultivars. I prefer the more compact varieties. Never tried Helenium flexuosom. I’ve seen the cultivar ‘Tiny Dancer’ online, looks intriguing.
I have blooming Hibiscus, Rose of Sharon, and Hydrangea, but I also have lots of yellow. I’m good with yellow. Heck I’m good with any color as long as it’s not winter’s white. 🙂
I don’t have any Hibiscus, though that would be worth having. Our Hydrangea are done blooming at this point in the summer.
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
I don’t grow the perennial Helianthus because they tend to be too aggressive even for me, also they generally want a drier soil.
Red is my favorite color, and I do plant some red flowers, but yellow is so cheerful, be it spring (daffodils), summer (coreopsis), or fall (rudbekia).
I also like red a lot, though orange is my favorite.
What a fantastic display. I am loving all your yellows, your neighbours must love you two! Hoping to hear more about those black swallowtail caterpillars.xxx
I’ll have a post with them soon.
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.
I cut them back around the end of May, beginning of June. Mostly to control their height. I let them stand over the winter, which I know is asking for trouble.
The front yard looks fantastic, I love all the lush color.
My favorite yellow flowers are the annual sunflowers with a couple goldfinches perched on top!
Sunflowers are awesome, as the kids say.
your neighbors are so lucky! What a show they are treated to. I’ve been seeing huge swathes of sunflowers in the field as well. Yellow isn’t my favorite, but an entire field of gold is undeniably beautiful.
I like yellow, but my favorites are blue and orange.