Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Daisies, likes and dislikes

click photo to enlarge
I've never liked the ornamental "pincushion" version of the common daisy, Bellis perennis. It always seemed very artificial looking with its flattened pom-pom head and often lurid colour. What I didn't realise, however, was that the way many gardeners use the plant contributed significantly to my antipathy. Those straight rows in lawn edge borders, with either the daisy alone or alternated with alyssum, lobelia or some other low growing, contrasting flower, seemed so forced.

What opened my eyes to the potential of this flower was a recent visit to Sewerby Hall near Bridlington. This former country house on the clifftops overlooking Bridlington Bay and the North Sea is now a visitor attraction run by East Yorkshire Council. The house holds museum-type exhibitions and period-furnished rooms, and the gardens, many that date from the time when the building was a private residence, are very well laid out and maintained. In the walled garden  - probably a former kitchen garden - I came across a few large beds of the pincushion daisies and I was so impressed by what I saw that I photographed the best examples. The most striking was the mixed planting of of red daisies with blue forget-me-nots. This combination was eye-catchingly vibrant, not to say dazzling, certainly photogenic, though probably too much "in your face" for my tastes. However, a bed of pink daisies with forget-me-nots had quiet, understated, elegant, pastel qualities that I admired much more.

You're perhaps thinking that a section of our garden might be given over to something like this. But probably not. We tend to favour pockets of annuals among perennials and shrubs rather than complete beds of annuals or biennials that have to be replaced en masse part way through the season. However, the sight of these lovely flowers paired up with forget-me-nots has changed my opinion of this kind of daisy and we could well find a use for it in the future.

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Photo 1
Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 55mm
F No: f8
Shutter Speed: 1/100
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation:  0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On