Monday, September 20, 2010

Easy-to-grow Veronica

I’ve mentioned before that my father loved blue flowers, that’s why he always had Veronica growing somewhere in his garden.

Gardeners who love the colour blue know that veronica provides some of the clearest, truest blues in the perennial border. Other flower colours are also available, including pink, rose and white. Veronicas have flower spikes that are composed of dozens of densely arranged, small florets, that open progressively from the base upwards to form a long lasting spike.

I love using this very versatile plant along my garden paths and in the seating areas, where butterflies can collect on this long-blooming flower.

Although low-growing varieties are available, the most common veronicas form attractive 30cm to 90cm tall mounds. Narrow spikes of tiny flowers adorn the plant in midsummer and are superb in bouquets.

The lower spreading varieties seldom exceed 10cm in height and are a very good groundcover addition in your garden.

Veronica can be a workhorse in the cut flower garden; it will provide a full second crop of stems if cut down completely to the ground after the first harvest. Veronica is a spiky or linear type flower that provides movement, action, or life to an arrangement, and is long lasting in the vase.

For the full low-down on growing Veronica, including a list of good companion plants, visit my website

Shasta Daisies in the garden

As a child I always seemed to have hayfever if I got too close to the Shasta Daisies in my father’s garden. But what I remember most, was the dazzling brightness of the white blooms that always offset the bright colours of the dahlias, larkspur, gazanias, arctotis and zinnias that grew so prolifically under the African sun.

Just over 100 years ago, horticulturalist Luther Burbank introduced his Shasta Daisy to the world. Burbank had spent 17 years creating the hybrid he named for the pure white snow on Mount Shasta that Burbank could see from his garden.

Burbank admired the fresh white flowers and yellow eye of the wild Oxeye Daisies. He wanted to create a garden version of the plant that would be good for cutting as well as the perennial border.

The Shasta Daisy of today was the result of crossing the Oxeye Daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare) with English field daisies (Leucanthemum maximum) and then crossing the best selections from that match with the Portuguese field daisy (Leucanthemum lacustre). After six years of selectively breeding within this pool, Burbank added the pollen of Japanese field daisy (Nipponanthemum nipponicum), for its pure white flowers.

The simple white flowers with yellow button centres are a symbol of purity and are perfect for cutting. Easy to grow, they are a favourite for beginner flower gardeners and are effective when planted in small groups.

The full story on how to grow Shasta daisies visit my website now