Last Fall I sowed a handful of black-eyed Susan seeds. They sprouted a few weeks ago; some were gigantic, well over two feet tall. Took the above photo of one that is near the end of its blooming life.Got to wondering where the “Susan” comes from. Turns out that the poet John Gray in 1720 wrote “Sweet Williams Farewell to Black-eyed Susan. The poem is about a departing sailor professing his love for…(partial quote)
“O, Susan, Susan, lovely dear,
My vows shall ever true remain;
Let me kiss off that falling tear;
We only part to meet again.”
I read that the poem is also about how the wildflower(black-eyed Susan) and the sweet William plant ( Dianthus barbatus ) bloom together beautifully.
Next, I found the poem has been put to music. There is a fitting version done by the folk group Anna and Elizabeth,Folk Alley Sessions, Black-eyed Susan: https://youtu.be/sueKOUQmB58). Give the song a minute to put you back on a ship at dock in the 1700’s when Susan comes on board to find her William.
All this info has permanently altered how I look at a wildflower I always took for granted.