Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Yellow & Daisy-Like

Another month of musings from Le Jardinier

With regards gardens, and the pallet of plants on offer at any one time, I have always favoured late summer through to late autumn far above any other time of year. Yes, I love spring for everything spring has to offer - it's a period full of promise; a time when your senses elevate into the spirit of what's just around the corner - summer!

But, for some reason, in respect of plants at least, i've always been a late summer person. Well, I say 'for some reason', but actually I know precisely why this is. Basically, it's this...... I love daisies! There, I said it! In fact, this 44 year old metro-sexual male, is going to stand up, right now, and say it loud'n proud...I love daisies! All daisies! Everything from those 'damn yellow composite' flowers from the North American Prairies (so-called because they're often so 'damn' hard to tell apart in the field) to the white'n robust classic Shastas & Oxeyes... I love the crack-loving Fleabanes (Erigeron), to the gorgeous hues of blue Michealmas.

I've never really thought about it too much or had it analysed, but I assume it's simply because somewhere deep within my psyche there lives the collective image of what a classic flower shape should be. Give a five year old some coloured pens and some paper, ask them to draw a flower and I have no doubt they will instinctively draw a daisy-like flower straight from the genus Asteraceae... with a colourful outer ring of petals forming a perfect circle, surrounding a central disc. Now, let's not get all technical and start talking disc florets.

Also, I don't want to come across as displaying a certain nonchalant swagger when I say that I really loved these plants long before they became fashionable - but I did. Honest! Many years ago now, way back when I was first beginning to acknowledge a fondness for plants I guess I just instinctively knew that - as a group - perennial daisies had so much to offer.... so much value in them! From small pots purchased from a garden centre or nursery, they guarantee to get bigger (clump up) with each passing year: they're pretty much maintenance free: just curtail the clump when they've reached their allotted space. The sturdy ones (which accounts for most of them) don't require staking, and they make such great partners for so many other plants.


Barely a month goes by when such an article doesn't appear in one of the monthly magazines  

 
Their only downside is a contemporary one I guess, in that so many garden designs are now based around the simple concept of partnering daisies with grasses.. Voila! An instant prairie garden! Of course, the use of prairie plants - and prairie-like plants - to create the modern naturalistic garden is a very skilled thing indeed. But like all artistic/creative movements that become hugely popular and highly fashionable, they can become copied and clich├ęd, over-used and over-done, made available, affordable and somewhat prescriptive. 

How pleased was I too see this little publication at RHS Wisley! For me it was complete top shelf material. I think my hands were shaking as I took it up to the till! 

Funnily enough, looking at a handsome clump of Rudbeckias recently, I happened to mention to one of my customers that if it wasn't for those plants I probably wouldn't be working in their garden. Many years ago, when working in central London, I used to walk through the park at Russell Square most lunchtimes with a friend. They would be talking away, and I would be listening with one ear directed at them and two eyes admiring the plants. Then, one day, this person happened to say... "you really like plants don't you?" Only to be followed a week later with "you really like yellow plants don't you?" I couldn't deny either really! A few months later I found myself studying for the RHS's Gen Certificate in Horticulture, in Acton of all places! The rest they say, is history!


Anyway, I'll bring this little October post to a close now and leave you with the offer of an allotment in Southern Italy. Plots were available when I was there in September.... not for the feint-hearted gardener!

Growing your peas & beans in the shadow of Vesuvius!


Bye for now. Batten down the hatches... a great storm is forecast for this weekend! "I don't think we're in Kansas anymore."

Marc
X

Postscript: The storm came & went... bit of a damp squib if you ask me.





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