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Paris daisy brings a sparkle to summer

The Paris daisy is a wonderful flower for summer display in the garden, especially on paved areas, balconies and terraces. It has long been grown in Mediterranean gardens and it has a sunny disposition that brings a touch of brightness to the garden. It is often grown as a short lollipop tree, clipped to a rounded shape and growing on a short stem.

Although it has the name of Paris daisy, this plant is not a French native - it actually comes from the Canary Islands where it grows on rocky, dry hillsides and its ancestors, with smaller daisies, can be seen toughing it out there. The flowers not only grow best in sunshine but look their best, too. The foliage is grey and divided, fern-like, and bluish-green with wax, which is an adaptation to cope with dry, sunny conditions.

The plant likes well-drained ground. In its native land, it does most of its growing in the damp season and stops flowering in the baking summer heat. But Irish garden conditions approximate more closely to the Canary Islands' spring, or winter even, than to the hot summer this plant is able to cope with. But this makes it good in a pot.

The plant itself makes a smallish bush, low to the ground to resist the wind. It is very fast-growing. Near the tips of each shoot, the flower buds are carried on long slender shoots. As the flowers wither, others replace them, although there is a first main flush in early to mid-summer. The main kind seen for sale has the basic white daisy flowers with yellow centres. But there are lots of varieties in pink, red and yellow as well as white, and some with puffed out centres replacing the usual yellow disc.

The 'Chelsea Girl' variety has very fine, almost hair-like foliage, greyish in colour and masses of white, yellow-centred daisies. 'Petite Pink' is smaller than most, forming a low rounded mound. It is relatively hardy and can be seen in mild areas flowering very late and beginning to flower in late spring.

'Vancouver' is a deep pink form. There are yellow-flowered kinds, too, the best-known of which is 'Jamaica Primrose' with fine yellow daisies over relatively broad green leaves. Paris daisy also does very well in pots in a conservatory, but watch for greenflies, which can do a lot of damage, weakening the plants and causing leaf drop.

Paris daisies often survive in coastal areas in a mild winter but it is wise to take cuttings in summer to have some new plants to replace the old ones.

Sunday Independent