Urban Gardener: Crazy daisies

On wanting to introduce some daisy-action to a client's garden recently, I was told in no uncertain terms: "OK, but no yellow, thank you very much." It's not often that I'll get a client barring a specific colour from a plant list, but when I do it will almost always be yellow or orange. The reasons for not liking a specific colour are about as clear as why some people are frightened of spiders except, of course, that yellow flowers don't scuttle across the carpet, make webs, or bite. OK, bad analogy.

My thinking is that so much emphasis is placed on the pastel shades – purples and blues – during the Chelsea Flower Show that good taste has got the better of some people and a fresh, clear yellow is seen as too obvious, or even vulgar. But a yellow daisy is about as cheery as it gets. Any child asked to draw a flower will, nine times out of 10, produce a daisy. Daisies are therefore embedded deep in our psyche as a symbol of happiness. Not to like them means you are almost certainly destined for a career in IT.

There may be echinacea, aster and the ubiquitous, but utterly delightful, Erigeron karvinskianus (its haze of pink-tinged white petals cleverly distracting a yellow centre) to play with, but I'd quite fancied using Inula magnifica 'Sonnenstrahl' to add a touch of perennial drama to a medium-sized garden where some exotic planting scheme needs a bit of a re-think. I may be guilty of wanting to make up for my own shortcomings and inadequacies in my own garden where yellow daisies have struggled this year. Telekia speciosa once occupied pride of place at the back of the garden, but snails eventually got the better of it and the only nod to a sunny face in the garden now is Euryops pectinatus which I bought after seeing it in Barbara Hepworth's garden in St Ives. It's an obliging, silver-leafed plant for a container in an urban garden. Its sporadic flowering this year has earned it the moniker "Cyclops", suggesting that it needs repotting but probably shows that it simply hasn't had enough sun this year.

Anyway, back to the inula. To sell the idea, I will have to big it up. Not that it needs it. The name should be a clue as to the statement this plant will make. Plain magnifica stands big enough at 2m, but 'Sonnenstrahl', with huge lush leaves, will extend to almost 3m before producing clear-yellow, spidery (I told you it was a bad analogy) flowers. From a distance they are stonking. Walking among them is like looking up at daisies in the old TV series Land of the Giants – you'll have one eye out for a moggy the size of a house. The plant has many medicinal qualities (and was used as a potherb by the Romans, although the leaves are too bitter for today's refined palettes) but looking up at dazzling yellow daisies against a brilliant blue sky is therapy enough. They are happy in most soils provided it doesn't dry out, which makes them an obvious choice for waterside planting schemes. There is a raised pond in the garden I want to use them in, but I'm hoping to enrich the soil and use them to punctuate some evergreen exotica (chamaerops, eriobotrya, bamboo) and avoid having to use cannas which don't really do it for me or (thankfully) the client.

Like my ill-fated telekia, inulas are susceptible to slugs in their first year although once they have established a good foothold their rate of growth in spring should be able to outpace anything and will even naturalise in grass. If you fancy some yellow in your life but really haven't the space or the nerve for such drama then look out for the smaller (75cm) Inula hookeri, a plant that immediately jumps into my top 10 every time I see it. Many will try to put you off because of the plant's invasive tendencies, but in my view, such people are gardening wimps! Watching the mutation from bud to flower amid a gossamer-furry haze is about as beautiful and absorbing as it gets in the garden.

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Client Manager

£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...

Recruitment Genius: Property Negotiator - OTE £20,000+

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'