With travel limited this summer, I seem to be a sister of the traveling porches. I’ve gone from our back patio to my mom’s back porch, back to our patio, onto my friend’s patio on a recent and much-need visit, and back to our patio. It’s all been good and both my mom and friend’s yards were abloom with my favorite flower: daisies! The simple and happy flower always brings a smile to my face so for a brief break from the virus, riots, and everything else destroying our country, I’m venturing away from the gloom and doom and instead writing about something happy and sappy: the delectable daisy. I hope it brings a smile to your face!
One of the most familiar flowers in the world, daisies can be found on every continent except Antarctica. They grow abundantly and they grow just about anywhere. So popular are they that, much like a rose, even a child can recognize and name them. They are playful and even somewhat whimsical. They exude joy and innocence. Nothing fancy or expensive, just simple and simply delightful.
Their name is even special. “Daisy” originates from the Old English phrase “daes eage,” which means “day’s eye.” It is thought the flower was given the name because they close their petals at night and open them up in the morning. I’m no morning person, but I loved learning this.
In addition to their unique name, daisies also have a unique history. For literally thousands of years we have had a love affair with them. Cave carvings dating back to 3000 BC depict daisies and it’s a well-known fact that ancient Romans used them medicinally. The oils from daisies were extracted and used to treat wounds, avoid infection, and promote healing. The Romans were onto something, as we’ve come to learn that daisies contain anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties and tea made from them can be used as a diuretic, to sooth sore throats and ease coughs, slow bleeding, and even treat colic. Not bad for a pretty little flower, right?
Victorian-era daisies also claim quite a history, as it was the ingenious and queenly Victorians who created the well-known “he loves me, he loves me not” pastime of plucking the petals of a daisy one-by-one. They also considered daisies a symbol of fidelity, making them perennial perennials in wedding bouquets.
They are still popular in bridal bouquets, baskets, and vased on a table, but did you know daisies are also edible? Closely related to artichokes, daisies make for a charming garnish, are great sources of vitamin C, and can relieve indigestion. Maybe “please don’t eat the daisies” is not so accurate after all! And lucky April birthdays, as the daisy is their birth flower.
If you’re like me, when you think of a daisy you probably think of the classic white-petaled bright yellow centered blooms, but there are many different versions of a daisy. Gerbera and Shasta are probably two of the most popular varieties, all of which are related to sunflowers. I am not a fan of sunflowers but it does make sense.
Growing daisies is somewhat of a no-brainer, even for a non-green-thumbed person like me. They say there’s a daisy for everyone and everyone can grow daisies. What I love about daisies in a garden is that they grow somewhat tall and full. I like to think of them as texture for my beds in that they stand out and stand tall yet stand unpretentious and carefree. Most start blooming in early summer and will gloriously continue to do so through fall. They are extremely adaptive and thrive in both wet and dry climates, sun and shade, and even mountains or prairie fields. As Melody Rose of davesgarden.com wrote, “they ask for very little and give back so much.” Plant that in your brain and grow with it.
In general, sow daisies in the fall for spring and summer blooms. Ridiculously easy to grown, simply prepare your garden soil by removing weeds, sprinkle daisy seeds, and keep them moist the first two-to-three weeks. A sunny, well-drained bed for starters is best. Once full and blooming, be sure to divide daisies when they become too bushy by removing a root ball and replanting it at least a foot away from the original plant. It’s also important to remove dead-heads from blooms to promote regrowth. One last tip: watch for aphids as they tend to like daisies. If you do see the pesky little critters on your flowers, simple spray with water, which usually shoos them away.
Although many daisies are considered annuals in that they bloom for just one season, many agree that if healthy and free of any frost, they tend to act more like perennials and return each year. I know for a fact that my mom’s daisies, which are in 7,000 feet and see snow every year, come back every year.
Although one of the most beloved flowers, daisies are not beloved by ranchers and farmers. Considered weeds in many parts of the world (one of the reasons they are so easy to grow), daisies can create hoe-ly havoc in pastures. Daisies produce huge amounts of seeds that remain viable for decades, meaning they are super hard to eradicate on places like farms and ranches. To make matters worse, cows don’t eat them so they tend to overgrow overtime and in abundance. Pretty yes, but a pretty pain too. On the flip side, deer don’t eat them either, which makes them the perfect deer-resistant garden plant.
With all the talk of saving the bees these days, it’s also important to note that bees and other pollinators love daisies. Shastas are their favorites, but all daisies seem to “bee” popular and much like people, it’s partly due to their shape. Boasting a flat and open center, a daisy provides a large landing spot on which bees, butterflies, and other buzzers can easily collect pollen and nectar.
I couldn’t agree more with Ms. Lindbergh, who happens to be the author of my favorite book ever, “Gift from the Sea.” Clearly I’m not alone. Just look around and you can get lost in daisies on everything from clothing to jewelry to home décor and don’t most of us know at least one person or pet named Daisy? My grandma had a cat named Daisy Mae. Daisy was the object of Gatsby’s love. Daisy Duke made jean shorts famous. Who wouldn’t want to wear, decorate with, or be named after a flower associated with purity, loyalty, simplicity, and humility; a flower that even alone in a vase, exudes the word “cheerful.” If you ask me, what this country needs more of right now is more daisies. After all, where flowers bloom, so does hope.