Tag Archive: daisy


Picture by Ellen Zillin

Picture by Ellen Zillin

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Picture by Gareth O'Brien

Picture by Gareth O’Brien

Picture by Colin Garratt

Picture by Colin Garratt

close up of Xerochrysum bracteatumAs you might guess there aren’t that many plants beginning with ‘X’, but Xerochrysum is an interesting genus of around 6 or 7 species of short- lived perennials and annuals which are native to open grassland and scrub in Australia.

The stemless lance – like leaves are hairy. The flowers are dasiy like with papery white, yellow or pink bracts and a central disc of, often, yellow florets. The perennials can be used to fill in gaps in herbaceous borders and low – growing cultivars are suitable as edging or for containers.

The name Xerochrysum comes from Greek xeros meaning “dry” and chrysos meaning “gold” (this refers to the common yellow papery bracts that occur within the genus).

X. bracteatum is often grown for its cut and dried flowers and it self seeds freely. Also known as the “Golden Everlasting”, this is one of the best known of the “paper daisies” as it is a very widespread species occurring in both annual and perennial forms. It varies in habit from prostrate to a shrubby plant of about 1m in height. The leaves are usually large (up to 100mm long) and green to grey-green in colour. The individual flowers are very small but are formed into a large cluster surrounded by large papery bracts. The overall appearance is that of a large, single “flower” with the bracts as the “petals”. However, well over a hundred true flowers occur inside the ring of bracts.

The ‘golden everlasting’ has been cultivated for many years and a number of forms have been selected for cultivation. These include several which have resulted from both chance and deliberate hybridisation. Some examples are:

  • “Diamond Head” – perennial; green foliage, 0.2m x 0.5m. Yellow flowers

  • “Dargan Hill Monarch” – perennial; grey leaves, 0.8m x 1m. Yellow flowers

  • “Cockatoo” – perennial; similar to “Dargan Hill Monarch”, pale yellow bracts around a head of small orange flowers

  • “Princess of Wales” – perennial; similar to “Dargan Hill Monarch” but more compact (0.6m x 0.6m). Yellow flowers

  • “Kimberley Sunset” – perennial; grey leaves, 0.8m x 1m. Pink flowers

In addition, breeding work in Europe and Australia has produced annual forms with an outstanding range of colours – yellow, red, purple, orange. These are excellent for a massed, colourful display. Most forms are suited to cultivation in many areas. The annual forms can be purchased in packets from a number of commercial suppliers and established as instructed on the packs.

Perennial forms are usually quick growing in a sunny, well drained position. They benefit from a regular light pruning annually to encourage branching and a greater number of flowers. Severe pruning to overcome “legginess” may be successful but only as a last resort.

Golden everlasting responds well to annual fertilising, usually with a slow-release type and appreciates an assured water supply. The plants vary in their ability to withstand frost but most are at least moderately frost resistant.

Propagation of X.bracteatum from seed is easy; no pretreatment is required. Propagation from cuttings is also fairly easy and is the only way that named cultivars should be propagated.

Xerochrysum is half hardy to frost hardy and should be grown in moderately fertile, moist but well-drained soil in full sun. Those cultivars which reach 90 cms or more need staking. They can be propagated from seed in the spring. they might susceptible to downy mildew.

These very popular plants bring long-lasting colour and warmth into the garden. There are many cultivars available in nurseries with flowers varying from white through cream, lemon, canary yellow, gold and bronze. Many of the pink varieties are the result of plant breeding, most probably using South African species as this colour is very uncommon in Australian plants.

They will keep producing flowers particularly if spent flowers are continually removed. Butterflies and other insects love them and will flock to your garden adding another layer of interest. They are also excellent as dried flowers keeping their shape and colour well for years – just hang a bunch up-side-down in a dark airy place and let them dry for a few weeks.

Sources and further information:

Australian Native Plants Society

Wikipedia

Growing Xerochrysum bracteatum-RHS

Old School Gardener

Leucanthemum x superbum 'Becky'

Leucanthemum x superbum ‘Becky’

Other wise known as ‘Shasta Daisies’ Leucanthemum is a genus of around 70 flowering plants (annuals and perennials) from the sunflower family (Asteraceae).

It occurs naturally in Europe, Northern Africa and the temperate regions of Asia. Many species have been introduced into America, Australia and New Zealand. It was previously classified as a chrysanthemum and the most important group of perennial Leucanthemum- the group x superbum is still known by some as Chrysanthemum maximum. They were split from the genus Chrysanthemum, because they are not aromatic and their leaves lack grayish-white hairs. L. vulgare is the ‘Ox Eye Daisy’.

The superbum group (the Shasta Daisy proper) consists of robust, easy going plants which grow well in sun or half shade in any good soil – but in heavy clay they have a reputation for not surviving. Growing to a height of between 0.5 and 1 metre tall, they are lax plants and so some form of support is usually required. Gardener Richard Barrett says,

‘If you find they grow too tall in your border and require too much staking, then dig them up each winter and replant them insitu. This has the side effect of keeping the foliage and flowers to a compact size, this method works well for other robust herbaceous plants.’

They reappear every spring with fresh dark green leaves before flowering with the typical daisy configuration of long elegant petals around a yellow eye. Their foliage is handsome, but can be attacked by slugs as the planst break ground kin spring – this tends to result in no regrowth, so protection is important.

Making a great display in your borders from June to September during which time it is good at attracting butterflies and bees, flowers are solitary and can be either single or double, and with simple petals or frilly, feather-like structures. Flowers of Leucanthemum are excellent for cutting and are favoured by flower arrangers.

L. 'Sonnenschein'

L. ‘Sonnenschein’

L. 'Goldrush'

L. ‘Goldrush’

Although other species in the genus have yellow flowers, the flowers of these hybrids had been exclusively white with yellow discs (tending to be paler in double-flowered types). However, the cultivar ‘Sonnenschein’ has yellow buds that open to cream flowers and there are other yellow cultivars available. New varieties include several with more petals to give a ruffled effect and a striking golden yellow version. Most will re-bloom happily if cut back after flowering. Leucanthemum combine well with Phlox in August. White flowered varieties make an excellent contrast to the blue of Salvia nemorosa ‘Ostfriesland’ whilst the strong yellows are great to accompany Gaillardia aristata ‘Goblin’.

Leucanthemum x superbum 'Snowcap'

Leucanthemum x superbum ‘Snowcap’

Old School Gardener

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Anthemis tinctoria 'E.C.Buxton'

Anthemis tinctoria ‘E.C.Buxton’

There are around 100 mat or clump-forming species in the genus Anthemis.

They make very useful border plants, with a long flowering season from late spring – end of summer.

Most grow between 30 -60 cms high and have a similar spread.

Beautiful filigree, aromatic evergreen foliage when not in flower.

Smaller types suitable for rock gardens.

Flower heads are daisy-like; with white or yellow ray florets or yellow disc florets- some make good cut flowers.

Though many species are not long lived (A. tinctoria especially so), they are all easily propagated from seed or cuttings.

The plant’s life can be extended by shearing over in autumn just after flowering – this encourages new basal growth which takes the plant through the winter. Shearing also helps to prevent mildew.

They need sunny, well-drained sites and wet winters are generally not favourable.

They do not transplant well, but should anyway be divided regularly in spring.

Anthemis maritima

Anthemis maritima

The orangey- yellow varieties look well woven in and out of mixed borders, and complement warmer coloured flowers; e.g. Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’, Dahlias, Hemerocallis etc. The yellow varieties look well with blue flowers such as Nepeta or Agapanthus. The pale lemon variety ‘E.C. Buxton’ (or ‘Golden Marguerite’- one of my favourites)  works well with wispy grasses such as Stipa tenuissima and the darker Lavenders (e.g. ‘Hidcote’).

Further information:

Wikipedia

How to grow Anthemis- Telegraph article

Anthemis marschalliana– silver foliage

Quizzicals: answers to the two in the post ‘Gypsies, tramps and thieves…’

  • The scourge of female chickens – Henbane
  • Cheap goods in a pile of dung – Potato

Old School Gardener

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