I WAS first introduced to the Silver Daisy Bush (olearia pannosa), a spectacular, low, spreading daisy, by friends from The Daisy Patch. This ‘Patch’ is a delightful dryland garden which was developed by John and Julie Barrie on a low-rainfall, stony, windswept block at Coonalpyn, South Australia. In my garden, olearia pannosa thrives with little attention. The foliage is attractive featuring evergreen dark green shiny lanceolate leaves with a furry silver lining are not affected by frost or burning sun. In springtime, held high above the foliage, a profusion of large, starry white daisy flowers unfurl. Flowering lasts for several weeks. O. pannosa is truly a ‘survivor’ garden plant. Yet, despite its toughness, it is vulnerable to extinction in its native habitat. Threats include livestock grazing, invasive weeds, habitat fragmentation and inappropriate fire regimes. In recent times a significant roadside colony was destroyed by roadmaking machinery. It is unusual to come across O. pannosa growing in the wild in Victoria. Small populations exist on northfacing, shallow, rocky soils in a few isolated locations in central Victoria. Most of these small populations have low seed set and consequently very few seedlings result. Its survival from extinction has been prioritized for support by the Federal Government’s Threatened Species Strategy. Research into remaining O. pannosa populations indicate that it is long-lived. Some plants may be up to 100 years old. The tuberous roots of O. pannosa may have provided a valuable water and food resource for the Australian Indigenous population. If you are seeking a tough, easy-tocare-for small perennial, with attractive foliage and large, bright white daisy flowers, then a Silver Daisy Bush is a great choice. Plants may be available from specialist nurseries. O. pannosa can be propagated from cuttings. Seed can be sown in autumn into seed-raising mix and kept moist but not over-wet. Seedlings can be pricked out at the 2-leaf stage and transplanted into potting mix.
◆ FRESH AND BRIGHT: Silver daisies.