Daisy days are here again this summer
July 12, 2010
LINCOLN, Neb. – The garden seems to catch its breath around the Fourth of July. After the rowdy days of June, when many perennials are at the peak of their flowering, there is a bit of a lull as summer heats up. Thankfully, July is when the daisies really kick it into high gear.
The daisy or sunflower family (Asteraceae) is one of the largest families of flowering plants on earth, and its members long have been important garden plants. Shasta daisies (Leucanthemum) are classic examples, having graced cottage gardens with their bright white flowers for centuries. The butter-yellow daisies of coreopsis or tickseed (Coreopsis) are also common sights in summer gardens and landscape plantings, especially the popular cultivar ‘Moonbeam.’ Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia) is another standard daisy beloved by generations of gardeners.
It’s hard to imagine a garden or landscape in America without purple coneflowers (Echinacea). With their raised central cones and drooping ray flowers, purple coneflowers are both beautiful and dramatic. The Midwestern species Echinacea purpurea is the most widely available in the horticultural trade, but our native species E. pallida and E. angustifolia are also excellent garden plants.
As if there weren’t enough garden daisies to choose from at your favorite nursery or garden center, our Nebraska prairies are graced by an array of sunflowers that are still waiting to gain greater appreciation in American horticulture. Examples include prairie coneflowers (Ratibida), golden asters (Chrysopsis), false sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides) and silphiums (Silphium). No prairie garden, or landscape designed to reflect a sense of the prairie, should be without these signature plants.
In addition to being beautiful and blooming during the summer doldrums, daisies have the added benefit of attracting butterflies to the garden.
Consider the daisies. There’s no better group of plants to help us get through July, or to reflect a sense of Nebraska in our gardens and landscapes.