Thursday 18 January 2018

Summer's cheeriest bloom just keeps on flowering

The golden daisy bush flowers throughout most of the year
The golden daisy bush flowers throughout most of the year

Gerry Daly

The golden daisy bush is a fast-growing, bushy plant with ferny leaves that covers itself with yellow daisies, especially in late May and June. In a warm climate, such as its native South Africa, it flowers more or less all year round and even in this country, in mild areas, there is rarely a time when there are no flowers on it.

The golden daisy flowers are very simple and their shape seems to have cheeriness about them that lifts the garden. In general, daisy flowers have this quality but this one has a certain jauntiness to go with it, as the flowers are held clear of the foliage on slender stems. The flowers have a single row of bright yellow ray petals around a raised centre button of the same colour.

The foliage is evergreen, which means that the plant has presence in the garden even if there are no flowers. But, at the moment, in gardens in mild areas, it is in flower with scores of bright yellow daisies, building towards its first big flush. This is the major flowering of the year but it is followed by smaller flushes, especially if the summer weather is warm and sunny.

There is only a period in winter when this plant is not in flower.

The golden daisy bush, Euryops pectinatus, is relatively soft but survives for a few years in mild gardens, before a hard frost does significant damage. Frost damage is likely to happen inland every year. In the colder parts, it could, like that other South African native, the bedding geranium, be planted out at the end of May and grown outdoors just for summer. Or it could be grown in a pot and taken under cover in a greenhouse for winter. It is very easy to root from cuttings taken in July and these small plants are no trouble on a window sill indoors from the end of September. It is also excellent for use as a greenhouse or conservatory plant and it would be fine in a glass porch.

Euryops is fast-growing and easy, but must not be overfed or grown in too rich soil, as this makes it too vigorous, developing into a leafy plant at the expense of flowers. It likes a sunny position, full sunshine all day and it can take fair degree of wind exposure, although wind leaves its mark in the form of a harder, thinner look. It is available to buy in garden centres, though it's not as widely available as it should be, given its merits.

What’s the best shrub for my flowerbed?

Q I am looking for a recommendation for dwarf tree or shrub, six to eight feet, for a flower-bed beside a wall in small suburban garden. Maybe globe-shaped? The garden has a sunny aspect. The tree/shrub should preferably be colourful and evergreen.

A The obvious first choice would be camellia, but that likes acid soil and Dublin is generally limy, but the soil could be changed for some acid soil or lime-hater compost. If this was done, rhododendron or pieris could be considered as excellent candidates. Blue bush which is called ceanothus doesn't mind lime, and Spanish broom gives a good show of yellow flowers with year-round narrow whippy green stems. Tree lupin is a pretty yellow-flowered bush. Lauristinus is evergreen with white flowers in winter, or Pittosporum 'TomThumb' is a small rounded tree with evergreen purple leaves, which is unusual.

Sunday Independent

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