Nothing but Daisies

Frikart daisy (Aster x frikartii)

Frikart daisy (Aster x frikartii)

If you confined yourself to growing nothing but daisies, you could still see plenty of flowers 12 months of the year – and in every color of the rainbow besides.
For years, marguerite daisies have been noted for their mounds of hundreds of daisies in white, sulfur yellow or pink. But now there are varieties that bloom just about all the time. ‘Ruby Slippers’ is a bush that grows to 4 feet in height with carmine red flowers for months and months on end; ‘Lemon Sugar’ is a relative of similar stature and blooming habit with pale yellow petals surrounding butter yellow centers.
I need hardly mention the old standby Euryops daisies with dark yellow flowers set off by sea green or slate gray foliage. There is also the blue marguerite (Felicia amelloides), a small mounding type with sky-blue flowers. And no one, surely, could live for long without a sample of the Santa Barbara daisy; picture a mound that spreads, or spills, or drapes down and around until it is covered with probably a thousand miniature pinkish-white daisies. Santa Barbara daisies are meant not only for sunny garden, block wall, or walkway border planting, but for patio and balcony planters and hanging baskets as well.
One of the best ground covers for a half-day or filtered sun location is the Shasta daisy. This is the classic large, white-petaled flower with a yellow center that every kindergarten child learns to paint. What most people do not know is that the Shasta daisy is a clumping plant that will spread throughout a properly sited bed – that is, an area where the day’s hottest sun does not reach.
One of the most dramatic members of this family is the true blue Michaelmas or Frikart daisy (Aster frikartii), a short-lived shrub that grows up to 4 feet tall. Every time I see this plant in full bloom – which, admittedly, is rare since almost no one grows it to maturity – I am dumbfounded, flabbergasted, and shaken to the depths of my soul with the knowledge that only God could create something so beautiful.
The problem with the Frikart daisy is its requirements: plenty of light, very well-drained sandy soil and constant moisture. How do you keep a fast-draining soil moist when the exposure must be sunny? The trick, really, is to find the right location. An exposure 10 to 15 feet away from the northern wall of a single-story house or other structure would be ideal; there it would receive good ambient light without having its soil desiccated by direct sun. Or, you could give it only morning sun – on the east side of a structure – with a thick mulch to keep water from evaporating through the soil surface.

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