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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Common Daisy Bellis perennis

I’m not much of a fan of billiard table-perfect lawns. Striving to maintain monotonous grass in a perpetual state of arrested development seems to me to be the height of horticultural futility, especially when you consider the vast quantities of fertiliser and lawn mower fuel used and the suburban noise pollution that comes from lawnmowers. There are many more interesting and creative ways to cultivate a patch of land. Dr. Lalita Calabria has some interesting ideas over on her Adventures of a Phytochemist blog. But, if it wasn’t for mown grass, daisies would be a lot less common than they are – and I rather like daisies. They’re well-adapted to life in lawns, with rosettes of leaves pressed so close to the soil that mower blades can’t do them much damage and even it they do lose their flower heads new ones spring up very quickly, pretty much all-year-round. Daisies thrive in the open, low-diversity lawn habitat but soon go into decline if you stop mowing the grass – they can’t cope with deep shade of tall grasses.
In about a month’s time roadside strips of grass around towns and villages will be enlivened with cheerful displays of daisies – and they’ll stay like that for a week or two until the contractors arrive for the annual spring mowing. The daisies will be decapitated but close-cropping the grass like this will ensure the daisy plants' survival for the rest of the year: one of life’s little ironies.