Faire Yellows


The flowerbeds of the Fairegarden all have names, better for journal writing and note taking to be able to easily identify what is happening where. Several are named for colors, the lazy gardener naming technique, no creativity required. One of those is the White/Yellow Bed, although there are other colors allowed to live in there, mostly blues, being on the opposite end of the color wheel from the lighter hues. The entire contents of this bed will be the topic for another day, however. Today is about a single color, one that some people love to hate, but nature adores, for there are ever so many flowers that shine like the rays of the sun. Above, dwelling in the White/Yellow area is the Ruth Aster, A. heterotheca villosa, or is it camponum? ‘Ruth Baumgardner’. Many promising buds require daily perusal as the wait for the grand opening nears.


The day has come, Ruth’s time has arrived, to the delight of all. Three plants were set into the ground last fall, one disappeared for reasons unknown, it may have been pulled in a rare fit of cleanupitis. Tall and with a tendency to flop over, these Ruth’s have been wrapped by nearby dappled willow stems to help hold her aright with a slight gangsta lean.


One plant of Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’ has filled more than half of the White/Yellow bed. The blooms have been nonstop for months, attracting bees, butterflies and this insect referred to as the love bug for its wanton and public reproductive habits. Mentioning our good friend Ruth once again, owner of our favorite local nursery, Mouse Creeek, we felt the urge to recommend that she name Lemon Queen to be nominated as a Perennial Plant of the year for the future. She agreed, but made no guarantee that her one vote would result in the naming. It certainly qualifies in my garden.


The denizens of Yellow/White, mixing up the name but it is still the same bed, are packed in tightly. The desired look is one of lush luxury. A stray seedling was spotted growing in the nearby gravel path this spring. It looked like one of the myriad wild asters with a slightly different fuzzy leaf. It was allowed to grow, moving the purple Adirondak chair from its prime butterfly watching location to make room for the ever taller stalks. It became clear when buds began to form that this was not an aster, but rather a goldenrod, Solidago of some sort, but different from all the others here. The plan was to move it after blooming into better conditions, for it completely obstructed the ramp leading to the garage deck. As usual, impulsiveness overruled sense and it was carefully dug and placed near Lemon Queen while the buds were still tightly closed. Copious watering in the face of extreme drought conditions here has kept it barely alive. We hope to see a flower open this year, if not, we hope to see it return and prosper next year without the disruptive digging and moving at the worst possible moment of the growing season.


As explained above, goldenrods just show up here, univited but welcome. We don’t know their names but notice differences in leaf, habit and flower form. All of them are tall, so when we saw this ground cover type, Solidago sphacelata ‘Golden Fleece’, at where else but Mouse Creek, it quickly leapt into the wagon to come live among the skyscrapers cousins. One plant was divided into several last fall and planted at the edge of what is now the Gravel Garden. They have not yet filled in for the carpet effect vision, but weeding has helped give them room to stretch their lax stems. Maybe next year, or maybe we need to buy more plants. And not divide them. And plant them very close together. Bzzzzz*.


Looking for likely subjects to plant in the Gravel Garden’s tough conditions, common tansy, Tanacetum vulgare was decided upon, among others. The aromatic ferny leaf, good height so as not to get lost amongst the grasses and asters and sweet yellow button flowers seemed a good fit. It was not realized that the pollinators would enjoy those pincushions as has been so proven. The aster, or non-aster, I refuse to make the distinction in a rebellious spirit, (*too often does not* was checked on my ancient report cards for the box labeled Respects authority), is the Tennessee Aster, A. paludosus ssp. hemisphericus.


Found in the nearby Smoky Mountain region of the southern Appalachians, Rudbeckia lanciniata grows sky high, eight to twelve feet tall. Beloved by finches, bees and butterflies, the yellow daisy-like blooms are difficult for a hobbit sized camera toting gardener to shoot without a ladder. This plant has kindly sprouted some ground hugging blooms with fresh florals after the rest of the plant has passed on to seed maturing stage. Thank you very much, says she.


The Susans, Rudbeckia fulgida var. ‘Goldsturm’ for the most part, have been blooming for several weeks, if not months. A few hangers-on keep up the show. They are planted along the Azalea Walk, the Gravel Garden and the White/Yellow bed. See how convenient it is for the beds to be so named, it is known at an instant where the Susans can be found.


The provenance of the this plant is a case of mistaken identity. Again at Mouse Creek, the object of our desire was the large and tall Rudbeckia maxima. There were four inch pots bearing the same glaucous foliage and form, literally bursting at the seams to expand. The labels were missing and Ruth was on a speaking tour vacation for the month. The kind woman left in charge had no idea, but said whatever they were, they needed to be moved to larger containers, hence larger price. They came home with me that day, money saved!, and were placed in a location, behind the Hibiscus ‘Kopper King’ whose reddish foliage can be seen in the image, where a ten foot tall Maxima would feel at home. As it turns out, these are Nicotiana glauca, not nearly so robust in stature. It is too dry to move them, they could be annuals anyway. It appears someone has drilled a hole in the flower, but it is yellow, so belongs in the White/Yellow bed. And this post.


In 2009 Salvias of all shapes, sizes and colors were added in a fit of obsessive collecting. Many were not garden worthy and/or not hardy. Above, Salvia kayamae, Japanese yellow sage has finally decided to bloom. Only a distracted and somewhat lazy gardener allowed it to stay in the ground so long while it looked so sad and pitiful without enough moisture. Honestly, we meant to dig this out and compost it, for the foliage is crispy at the edges, the stems have splayed to reveal an unattractive midde, (this we can sympathize with) and there has been no flowering until now. It has received a reprieve, for the blooms are attractive, if difficult to capture.


There is not enough contrast, no matter the light conditions for the long view snapshot, but the yellow blooms have captured our heart.

*Bzzz refers to the shock collar needed to force the planting of one type of plant close, very close together instead of spreading them far and wide. There seems to be an innate compulsion to spread the wealth, stemming from tightwadedness, the resistance to spending the money to buy enough plants to fill a space properly.

Frances

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28 Responses to Faire Yellows

  1. gardeningasylum says:

    Love all your lemony yellows Frances! As a new gardener I hated the color, now I look around and it really is indispensable – how are all the purples, blues and greens to sing without the yellows? Love Miss Ruth especially.

    Hi Cyndy, thanks. When I first began gardening it was all about white, blue and pink, as I imagined English gardens to be. Maturity has taught me that nature, and the pollinators love yellow. It is the first color that draws the eye and brightens any landscape, whether with flower or foliage. Ruth is the star right at the moment! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  2. Naming your borders is such a great idea, for record keeping and so much easier for someone to find you, when you tell them where you are going, instead of ‘someone’ just yelling your name over and over again, lol.

    Hi Deborah, thanks for visiting. You are so right, the naming began for specific garden journal writing, to explain where some new plant had been placed, or something moved, so I would know where to look for it. As for the *someone* yelling, I like to make them look for me! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  3. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Good Morning Frances, All of those yellows are so uplifting. My spirits are as low as the indicator in the rain gauge so seeing all of these different yellows makes me happy. Have a good weekend.

    Hi Lisa, thanks. I know exactly how you feel about that rain gauge thing. Trying to find non gardening tasks at this time of year is difficult. At least some of these plants seem to be doing well in spite of no rain, for now. We could always clean the house. Nah! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  4. Carol says:

    A lovely group of yellows. Though… I planted tansy once and it turned out to be a thug in my garden. 13 years later, I am still pulling out seedlings, and I never let it go to seed! Must check into more goldenrods for my own garden.

    Hi Carol, thanks. I read that Tansy is a thug, but this is the gravel garden not good fertile loam. I noticed the roots to be aggressive, it runs. Being with wild asters and goldenrod, it needs to be a tough guy, or gal, as the case may be. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  5. Darla says:

    What bursts of sunshine you have coming up from the soil. Yellow in the garden just dang well makes me smile!

    Hi Darla, thanks, so nice to see you. These yellows are certainly smile worthy, especially in the face of droopiness in other corners of the garden. Happy and perky! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  6. Good Morning and Happy Autumn Frances. Your first photo of Ruth’s Aster blew me away . . . the light, intensity and all those buds! Gorgeous! Lovely yellow blooms throughout, and I love the color, especially in the garden. What a delicate salvia . . . I have never seen a yellow one. Lovely! ;>)

    Hi Carol, thanks for those kind words. There is nothing to compare to the early morning light, except maybe the late evening, but that is different, warmer. I believe buds to be more wonderful than flowers, so much promise and potential. Once they open, it is all downhill from there. I like the yellow salvia, but the leaves look awful. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  7. I used to hate yellow, could never make it work, but have discovered the error of my ways through the accidental juxtaposition of some Californian poppies that were supposed to be orange and turned out to be shades of yellow and a vivid blue nepeta. If I hadn’t learned my lesson already this post would have done the job! Have fallen in love with Rudbeckia lanciniata and Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’.

    Hi Janet, thanks for stopping by. What is it that we resist yellow as beginning gardeners? At least we see the wisdom of nature sooner or later with the fabulous effects that yellow brings to a garden, really catching the eye and attention. Those two plants you have admired are both excellent garden residents, tough as nails, beautiful and large. And the pollinators are crazy for them. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  8. Layanee says:

    I love yellows with the exception of ‘school bus yellow’. I have quite a bit of yellow foliage right now. The variegated comfrey is just divine. Your yellows are so very cheerful as yellows are meant to be. I didn’t realize there was a yellow salvia and one that is ‘splaying to display an unattractive middle’ is just too funny.

    Hi Layanee, thanks for visiting. I know all about unattractive middles! Best hidden from view for sure! HA I was surprised to find a yellow salvia that was hardy here. We bought another Japanese one with white on the leaves, smaller plant that has not bloomed just yet. They bloom so late, I didn’t realize that. I need some comfrey. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  9. Eileen says:

    Frances, I love yellow in the garden especially this time of year. I have Lemon Queen and it is stunning. I have already divided it a couple of times. I would certainly vote for it as perennial of the year.

    It does draw many bees and mine is on a narrow walkway which is not the best placement. I must remember next year to tie it back a little bit so it’s not so scary going by it.

    Eileen

    Hi Eileen, thanks for stopping by. I am glad to hear that Lemon Queen does well for you. She is a big healthy girl and needs some room to stretch out! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  10. Beautiful.

    I can’t get Rudbeckia to grow for me. What’s the secret? Do you start from seed?

    Hi Susan, thanks for visiting. I don’t know of a secret to the Rudbeckia clan. They are free seeding and those plants grow the best, but I have always started with passalong or purchased plants. They like extra water to get going but are drought tolerant once established. That’s all I got. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  11. Oh, that’s so pretty. Love the title.

    Hi Dee, thanks. You are so sweet. I struggled with a title but that seemed a good fit. Glad you liked it. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  12. Marguerite says:

    Who couldn’t love yellow! Such a bright and cheery colour that to my, admittedly untrained eye, goes with everything. Perhaps that’s why this year I purchased yellow dahlias, two kinds of Rudbeckia, an echinacea, and an ‘Old Gold’ juniper. Looking at your photos I was making lists of more yellow plants I would love to have, such as that delightful tansy.

    Hi Marguerite, thanks for visiting. I agree that yellow can be used anywhere. We are not color snobs, and neither are the pollinators who love yellow. I love the sound of what you have purchased, golden leaf evergreen make winter so much more cheery. Beware the tansy, it runs and seeds, so they say. That does not deter me now, but I might rue the day it came to live here. Doubtful, but it sounds good. HA πŸ™‚
    Frances

  13. Meredehuit says:

    Your post is enough to make me rethink my yellow fetish… I adore yellow but am quite finicky about who is invited. Your Ruth Aster is dreamy for sure!

    Hi Meredehuit, your comment makes me laugh! My dear departed neighbor, Mae taught me that all the colors of nature are compatible. For my garden, we just want to grow things that will do well here without a lot of fuss, color is secondary, if considered at all. Leaf form is so much more important. Ruth is having a fabulous year. New last fall, she was not nearly as floriferous. I might need to add more! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  14. Such a cheery post; I love yellow in the garden. I share your penchant for naming beds, it makes it so much easier when you are discussing what has or has not been watered, where a certain splendid sight can be found, etc.

    The goldenrods are amazing, I must get that carpet one.

    Hi Hands, thanks for stopping by, so nice to see you. Glad to hear your beds are named. How else are they to be referred to, if they don’t have names? When you get the Golden Fleece, be sure and plant them close together. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  15. I like yellow, just not orangey yellow. Yours are all acceptable yellows. πŸ™‚ I really like the yellow with green centers of Rudbeckia lanciniata.

    HA MMD, I am so glad these are acceptable to your discerning eye! The color orange, and orangey yellows are also welcome here. We do not make the distinction, or eliminate any plant on the basis of color. Those tall Ruds are wonderful in every way. I like that the nice large leaves are evergreen here. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  16. Jake says:

    Beautiful! Is fall the time for all the yellow blooms to all bloom at once?

    I need to name each of my individual areas. Lol. That is a great idea.

    Jake

    Hi Jake, thanks. Fall and spring, think about all those yellow tulips and daffodils. Yellow is simply a good garden color! Naming is fun and helps for record keeping. Glad to hear your garden areas will get their own unique names too. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  17. Jenny B says:

    I absolutely adore yellow…orange…red…white…blue…purple…You get the picture! LOL! But yellow–yellow is the color of a smile. My fav is the Salvia kayamae. That macro shot is spectacular, with the little hairs standing up on the petals and leaves. The bloom is almost orchid-like. Does it have a scent? I had to laugh at your self-inflicted shock treatment. Be kind to yourself! A simple notation in your journal might work better?

    Hi Jenny, thanks, you are on the same wave length as I am, all colors welcome! Yellow is also the color of sunshine. The yellow Salvia has no scent that I can tell, but is a pretty thing. Too bad the leaves look so sad, maybe more rain would help that, but we can’t argue with the blooms. Writing notes to plant things together has not worked so far. I need it tattooed on my digging hand! LOL πŸ™‚
    Frances

  18. Gail says:

    Dear Frances, Fairegarden’s Faire yellows are luscious. Ruth is in full lie down bloom here, too! She’s twice the height she was last year and I’m wondering if I ought to have pinched her back a little! I like yellow a lot; screaming or other wise! But, really appreciate it next to some vivid blues or purples~Like tansy and the aster you’ve shown. Rumor has it fall will be arriving in TN sometime in the middle of the night! We can hope! xxxgail

    Dear Gail, I am so glad your Ruth is blooming her head off. She wants to lean over, could be staked I suppose, but the wrapping with branches treatment works for me. I use it for lots of taller plants, sometimes braiding the stems together for more strength. Or we could let her weave through the nearby plants. She is a beauty. Fall is coming you say? I don’t believe it until the temps cool and the rain starts to fall! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  19. Melissa says:

    LOVE your blog….added it to my blogroll…fabulous!

    Hi Melissa, thanks so much. Glad you enjoyed it here. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  20. Lola says:

    Wow, all that yellow. Great as I like yellow in the garden. All shades.

    Hi Lola, thanks. There is a lot of yellow now, it is such a happy color! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  21. I have been emotionally scarred by my battle to evict goldenrod from a garden bed. I name my beds, too, but not by color so much as prominent plant: the Juneberry bed, the smokebush bed, the crocus bank. My very first garden bed here was started with birthday gifts, so it is called the Birthday bed.

    Hi Kathy, HA! Emotionally scarred, I am so sorry. Your naming technique makes perfect sense. We have the Ferngully bed for the deceased magnificent red maple tree. It lives on in the soil. A birthday bed is delicious! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  22. Beautiful photos of beautiful flowers, Frances. I enjoy the diversity in the yellow hues. I need to add a little more yellow (everywhere!). πŸ˜‰

    Hi Shady, thanks. I like all the different shades too, Ruth is very brilliant, especially! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  23. debsgarden says:

    Who could not love flowers of sunshine and joy? A garden of yellow blossoms brings a smile to my face. I think of these as comfort flowers.

    Hi Deb, thanks for stopping by. I feel as you do, these are happy, smile inducing flowers, who could object to them? The pollinators certainly don’t! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  24. There’s some nice shots in there Frances.

    I like the tansy next to the aster.

    I seem to remember from a distant post you grow a good few asters. I’ve just bought aster cordyfolius ‘little carlow’ but think it may be a mistake as it’s destined for the new dry garden. In your experience can asters take it dry?

    Hi Rob, thanks. I am happy with the Tansy so far, even though it is rumored to be a thug. I didn’t know the aster was even there until it started blooming, a happy coincidence! Our experience with the asters, including the species cordy is that they adore the hot, dry sunny gravel garden where they reside here. Dry is all we gots, so they have to like it! πŸ™‚
    Frances

    Thanks for the aster info

  25. Rose says:

    Yellow was never a favorite color of mine, perhaps because I always thought it clashed with my hair:) But in the garden, it’s the perfect complement to so many colors…except pink…I wonder why. ‘Lemon Queen’ sounds like a winner. And I can sympathize, too, with an “unattractive middle” as well as a tendency towards tightwadedness:) I hope the cleanupitis bug hits me soon–now that the heat is finally over, it’s time to get really busy in the garden.

    Hi Rose, thanks for joining the conversation. I don’t understand the aversion to yellow, but began gardening with the same feelings. I have since learned how wrong that was. I especially like yellow and pink! It seems somewhat cooler here as well, I have been accumulating an even more unattractive middle by not working outside! May we both get to spend more quality time in the garden! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  26. Oh, lovely, Frances. It is nice to see such a cooling yellow shade now when so much is gold or brassy orange-yellow. And I had no idea there was a yellow salvia. It’s wonderful–again, so different from the cool blues or the hot rich reds and pinks we so often see. So many plants I don’t get to enjoy except through blogs!

    Hi Jodi, thanks, so nice to see you here. The light buttery yellow is beautiful, but I honestly love all colors in the garden. That Salvia is very subtle, the flower color against the leaf does not contrast like the reds do. There are so many plants out there, will we ever learn about them all? Impossible but fun to try. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  27. I love the yellow in your garden and I think naming the beds is poetic even if you just name them for color. It adds to the gardening experience when you can refer to them by name. I never named my beds, but may have to sometime. Some of my clients have named their gardens. I think that is sweet.

    Hi Donna, thanks, you are very sweet to say so. Naming the beds certainly makes the journal entries easier to understand and to write. I often need help remember what has been planted, or moved in which bed, especially during the dormant times of some of the plants. I like to know where to look for those emerging bulbs! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  28. Hi Frances,I think it is a great idea to name your flower beds…I can think of a few choice names for some of my non-performing beds!Your yellow beds make quite an impact on the viewer, I imagine. I had splashes of bright yellow celosia dotted all along my slope and I loved it. They looked like the feathery head-dress of showgirls and my backyard looked like a stage on a French cabaret- a Moulin Rouge!
    Rosie

    Hi Rosie, thanks. I saw your celosia, what a magnificent stand of it! We have never been able to grow it like that. I like the name Moulin Rouge for a flowerbed! πŸ™‚
    Frances

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