Nick Bai­ley re­veals clever ways to use daisies

Th­ese hum­ble plants bring much more to the gar­den than colour

Garden News (UK) - - News -

As sum­mer fades our gar­dens give a last flurry of flow­ers in the form of daisies. Th­ese hum­ble plants have long car­ried colour from sum­mer to au­tumn but they’ve many over­looked gar­den uses. Here’s my guide to which daisies to use where and for what. Flank banks The up­right na­ture of most asters means they’re rarely con­sid­ered for ground cover use, but there’s one species that does it re­ally well. On slopes or open bor­ders Aster di­var­i­ca­tus shines. It pro­duces a mass of stems in spring which emerge from the cen­tre of the plant. They barely reach 20cm (8in) be­fore lol­lop­ing down on to the ground and con­tin­u­ing their growth across the soil sur­face. Un­like many of

the other asters, they flower early so can of­ten be found in bloom from late July on­wards. Its stems are slightly con­torted, del­i­cately wiry and nearly black and set off its galaxy of tiny, yel­low-cen­tred white star flow­ers. Pair with spring bulbs such as scilla, ipheion or blue­bells.

See-through screens

Ver­bena bonar­ien­sis is the clas­sic see-through plant but for some­thing dif­fer­ent why not in­tro­duce a del­i­cate daisy which is light in fo­liage and lofty of limb. Erigeron an­nuus has skinny stems up to 1.6m (5ft 2in) tall and small, white daisy flow­ers which, to the ca­sual ob­server, would pass as an aster. Grow it mid-bor­der where you can see through it to other plants or try it on its own as an el­e­gant screen.

Bor­der edger

For good bor­der edgers the two I re­ally rely on are Aster amel­lus ‘King Ge­orge’ and aster ‘Vi­o­let Queen’. At 40cm (16in) and 45cm (18in) re­spec­tively, both be­gin flow­er­ing in Au­gust but ‘King Ge­orge’ holds out un­til late Oc­to­ber, a month longer than ‘Vi­o­let Queen’. This is coun­tered though by the sheer in­ten­sity of vi­o­let petals from ‘Vi­o­let Queen’, which is usu­ally the first into bloom and bliss­fully mildew-free.

At­trac­tive hedg­ing

Most hedges are al­most flower-free ever­green shrubs but why not hedge with a daisy? It works bril­liantly at Great Dix­ter in Sus­sex, where rows of Sym­phy­otrichum (the new name for some asters) la­t­er­i­flo­rum hor­i­zon­talis (or cal­ico aster) are used to edge bor­ders with their blocky 50x50cm (20x20in) forms. They can be clipped ver­ti­cally on their sides to be left with a

foam of flow­ers aloft the hedge come au­tumn.

Aster ‘King Ge­orge’ and it bold pur­ple blooms

Tall Erigeron an­nuus is a great liv­ing screen

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