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.
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