Scientific Name: Bellis perennis
Common Name: English daisy
Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial
Environment: Low growing perennial often found in moist meadows and lawns.
Bloom: Classic small daisy flowers with white petals and a yellow center.
Uses: Some cultivars are available with doubled or pink flowers. A very nice additions to containers or the front of a perennial border.
All lawns throughout the Garden
Upon entering the garden through the Main Gate, the giant Monterey cypress usually draws your attention upwards to the sky. Next time you visit and stroll across the Great Meadow, take a moment to instead look down and appreciate the humble lawn daisy, Bellis perennis.
Most may be familiar with Bellis perennis as a common weed in lawns across the United States. Its dark green leaves form a small, flat rosette, a characteristic that helps it to evade the blades of a lawn mower. The rosettes yield short flowers in white and pink throughout the spring and summer. This daisy is the archetype of composite flowers—flowers that look like a single flower but are actually made up of hundreds of smaller flowers. There are two type of flowers that help achieve this effect: ray florets which mimic petals and disc florets which make up the center. In the original species, a white fringe of ray flowers surrounds cheery yellow disc flowers. Many beautiful cultivars of the plant exist, with colors of white, pink, and red as well as many plump double petal varieties. The flower head of the English daisy closes at night, a behavior known as nyctinasty.
The English daisy is native to Europe and Western Asia, and has been much beloved there for hundreds of years. Not only has it been immortalized in poetry and prose from Chaucer to Shakespeare to Fitzgerald, but it was also widely valued for medicinal properties that were purported to heal a wide variety of ailments. This small daisy symbolizing innocence and delicacy has now spread and naturalized worldwide. It was introduced to the United States both purposefully as an ornamental plant but also accidentally in grass seed.
Depending on your perspective, the common daisy may be a sweet perennial or a pernicious weed. Instead of pulling it from your lawn or spraying it with herbicides this summer, enjoy the cheery flowers and the nectar and pollen it provides. You just might grow to love it!
IN BLOOM CONTRIBUTORS:
Text by Sarah Callan, Profile by Ryan Guillou, Photos by Joanne Taylor and @binjee_rai on Instagram.