Saturday, 19 May 2012

African Daisies (19 MAY 2012)

If I had to choose twelve plants to start a garden from scratch, daisies would certainly feature.

Making daisy chains was probably my first interaction with plants as a child as they were the only flowers that I was allowed to pick. My scrawled drawings stuck on the kitchen wall were their abstract portraits.

common daisies in my lawn

If Diana is gracious enough to let me include daisies in the lawn for free, giving me the option to pick a more exotic variety, the choice would be endless : the daisy family Asteraceae is one of the largest flowering plant groups. I have grown its cousins asters, marigolds and sunflowers; they germinate easily (marigolds a bit too easily) and are trouble-free.

According to top ten lists, the gerbera daisy is one of the most popular cut flowers. I've peeped into bouquets in local flower shops and supermarkets carrying out my own survey. This spot-check confirmed that gerbera is indeed a florists' favourite. I don't have it in my garden currently - but would I if I was starting all over again ?

gerbera in my local flower shop

A firm, straight stem looks fine in a vase; layers upon layers of soft, ribbed petals; the inner ruffle of miniature petals circling the centre. Very sophisticated, possibly a bit of a diva, but not quite my style - I prefer the simpler things in life.

A single gerbera stem actually holds an inflorescence consisting of three types of florets with five petals each , effectively transitioning from male at the centre through to female at the edge of the ruffle. The central disc florets have insignificant petals, the outer ray florets have a single enlarged petal which altogether give the impression that they were formed to reflect the sun's image.

I first stumbled over gerbera when googling "african daisies" with my osteospermum in mind. The latter has just two layers of alternating petals; a ruffle is absent. It might be thought of as a poorer relative of gerbera.

osteospermum in my garden - opens when the sun shines

Trouble-free plants are difficult to blog about. In this case, I can't recount my problems with propogation and then finally post a photo of its precious offspring or demonstrate how I saved it from pests. This plant has been disease-free so far; something I don't take for granted any more. It's easily multiplied by pulling off the spreading side shoots and inserting them in an empty space in a flower bed, equally comfortable exposed to full sunshine or dappled shade; evergreen, flowering from spring through to autumn.

Its my first choice to break the line of an edge of a wall, foliage draping over and flowers reaching up, casting daisy shadows on the bricks, or to round-off the corner of a square patio slab. The flowers are closer to the foliage compared to gerbera, the stems more in proportion for garden viewing. It's proved itself and I want nothing more from it so I wouldn't swap it. However, if I'm forced to choose between african daisies and common daisies in the lawn that would be a more difficult decision (hopefully I wont have to).

Today I'm linking up to Elephant's Eye in South Africa : Dozen for Diana
She also selected african daisy osteospermum in her first dozen.

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Diana Studer said...

the Gerbera at the florist is a horticultural hybrid. As a wildflower they are called Barberton daisies.
jamesonii crossed with viridiflora

The Osteospermum has been reclassifed as Dimorphotheca jucunda. Now I have lots of purple, a little pink, but the white and yellow are waiting.

Lawn daisies enchant me, we get a similar effect with tiny Oxalis flowers (where the gardener is sympathetic!)

Masha said...

I agree, daisies are wonderful. I am always tempted by gerberas at nurseries, but somehow they are too perfect for me :).

garden girl in SA said...

I do love Osteosperms. I have just planted seeds - hoping to create a carpet of them on my sidewalk.

Laura Bloomsbury said...

I was admiring the daisy clumps only last week and wondering why I've never wondered what they are called - Bellis perennis. Great choice for the dozen - the open daisy faces are a must for a garden.
p.s. have you been experimenting with camera too - lovely shots

Crystal said...

We struggle keeping Osteospermums through the winter, here up north. But I once visited a garden nearby, where the owner had planted a low evergreen hedge around their lawn, and underplanted it with osteospermums. The flowers had grown up through the hedge, and bloomed above it. Unfortunately, on the day I visited it was raining, but I bet they looked spectacular on a sunny day.

Donna@Gardens Eye View said...

I received a lovely Gerbera last yr for my birthday and recently went to a wedding that had many colors of this daisy...they also gave packs of seeds so i hope to grow some next yr...but I adore osteospermum. I will be buying a few for my containers this week...

HolleyGarden said...

I love daisies in the garden, too. All daisies! I think part of their charm is that this is the form we all draw as children when we started drawing flowers with crayons. Of course, being an easy-care plant might have something to do with it, too!

b-a-g said...

Thanks Diana - I read in wikipedia that Osteospermum used to belong to the Dimorphotheca family, but now the name Dimorphotheca is used to label annuals. However, as it's your native plant, I'll trust your judgement.

Thanks Holley, Laura & Masha - I read that you like daisies too, but I wonder if they would make it into your top twelve.

(Laura - if you're referring to the blurry effect, my point & click camera does that automatically - whether I want it to or not)

Thanks and Welcome GardenGirl - You wont be disappointed!

Thanks Donna - The original gerbera in Diana's link looks quite similar to Osteospermum/Dimorphotheca.

Thanks Crystal - You've given me an idea! I'm going to try planting some osteospermum side-shoots under my quince bush to see if they grow through it.

Anonymous said...

Hi b-a-g. I finally got back online and am glad I did not miss the daisy post. I like the common daisy and Gerberas. I grow Osteospermum each year as they are really reliable. They even seed themselves which really gave me a surprise for my climate. The form of the daisy is so happy, and makes a sunny face even on a gloomy day.

Alberto said...

Hi b-a-g! I would never ever give up on daisy-like flowers in my garden! I don't have those little white daisies in my lawn because actually I don't have any lawn but I grow a lot of echinacea (I think one of my favorite flowers ever, together with her yellow cousin rudbekia) and I have several asters too. I don't want sunflowers because they make me feel short though.
Gerbera is very easy to find on sale potted in spring: it sets a few flowers and then it dies. Always. The only person who can successfully grow gerbera is my sister (who normally kills even the basil in her balcony).

Stacy said...

Daisies are among my favorites, too--I always find them cheerful in a frivolous sort of way. (Not to anthropomorphize or anything.) Once summer hits, though, I avoid my garden in sunshine, so the osteospermums don't quite satisfy. And yes, daisy shadows! Why are those so delightful??

linniew said...

That daisy form, like the sun--just the best. I love them all, and this year I SHALL succeed with sunflowers (biggest daisies). (Do you think plants can be made to grow out of sheer will-power? I mean combined with science of course.)

debsgarden said...

Who could not love a daisy, the first flower of featured in our childhood artwork? I prefer the simple ones, too. I tried to grow Gerbera daisies, but they perished. I am not sure why; perhaps they did not like our heat.

b-a-g said...

Glad you're back Donna ! - the gardening blogosphere isn't quite the same without you.

Thanks Deb & Alberto - it seems that both of you have problems keeping gerbera alive. I suspected it was a diva.

Thanks Linnie - I definitely think that living organisms can pass on positive energy whether it be from human to human, human to plant or plant to human.

Maybe your seeds are being eaten by birds. Sowing seeds indoors solved my problems with sunflowers.

Thanks Stacy - I think they're delightful because they remind us of our childhood drawings.

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