If you have never read The Secret Life of Walter Mitty by James Thurber then now is the time to do it. We all daydream, but Walter Mitty’s escapism is in a class of its own. A memorable line is when he is fantasising about being a surgeon and takes over an operation while commenting seriously “Coreopsis has set in.” This is memorably funny because coreopsis is a flower!
These pretty yellow blooms, commonly known as Tickseed, grew prolifically in our farm garden, so I was delighted to find a tray of seedlings in our local nursery last summer. As they had bloomed so bountifully, I rather hoped they would seed themselves in the garden – especially as one gardening guide helpfully states that “Plants will reseed themselves with a little encouragement.” The drought has put an end to anything trying to grow!
Coreopsis lanceolate were introduced here, like so many other plants, for their ornamental qualities. Even though they have not reproduced in my drought-stricken garden, it has spread so successfully elsewhere that it is regarded as a problem invasive plant particularly in KwaZulu Natal and in parts of the Western Cape. As with so many alien plants the coreopsis both competes with indigenous plants and are poisonous to livestock.
Having said this, local gardeners in other areas are encouraged to plant these late summer bloomers for a splash of colour that will attract butterflies in particular. I am still hopeful that – should we get rain – some dormant seeds might have survived to provide some colour in the garden later on for this drought-stricken garden is sadly lacking colour at the moment and I would enjoy it if the coreopsis were to “set in”!