He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not – A Tale From The Garden

A young country girl named Susan fell in love with a sailor. When he had to leave for a long sea voyage, she promised to remain faithful and wait for his return. As time passed, Susan began to doubt his loyalty and her heart saddened. While standing in a meadow, she plucked the petals from a daisy, saying, “He loves me, he loves me not,” to determine whether her love would return. The daisy’s petals provided no answer.


I spotted a patch of Black-Eyed Susans at Edgemere Farm last Sunday at the Domingo World Event. Pictured here is m i c c a  and the Bucket Heads performing within the yellow meadow. How lovely!

Then, she noticed a beautiful, bright yellow wildflower with a dark center nearby, which she had never seen before. As she was about to pluck its petals, her sailor suddenly appeared, having returned from his journey. The sight of the striking flower in her hand made him smile, and he affectionately referred to “their” flower as “Black-Eyed Susan.” The flower, with its yellow petals and dark center, became a symbol of true love and fidelity in English folklore.

The flower’s connection to the seas and the sailor’s return / enduring love captured the imagination of poet John Gay,  and his poem titled “Black-Eyed Susan”  popularized the flower and its symbolism of love and devotion. 

You will see Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia) throughout Rockaway in gardens or on the roadside this time of year. They seed themselves so easily close to the sea. A wind must have brought the wildflower to the Beach 91st Street Community Garden. I deadheaded some a few years back and brought the seeds into my backyard. And since, I have Black-Eyed Susans blooming without any effort on my part. I clip them and make bouquets, bringing bright yellow joy inside my home. 


Detail of a Black-Eyed Susan with striking burnt orange, two-toned pedals.

Sometimes you’ll hear the flower referred to as a cornflower for its distinct dark center cones surrounded by bright yellow and orange petals. They are part of the sunflower family – this is evident by their similar appearances. Rudbeckia are hardy wildflowers requiring little care. They thrive in full sun and need minimal water. Clip the dried flower heads and save the seeds. Sow them anytime and you will grow a field of golden flowers for the birds, insects, pollinators, and your love-struck seafarings neighbors.

I have many  Black-Eyed Susan seeds. If you’d like some, reach out to me on Instagram @theglorifiedtomato.


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