Flowers that fall under the generic term, ‘daisy’ are members of the largest group of flowering plants consisting of about 23 000 currently accepted species, spread across 1 620 genera. We find them in all sorts of environments, in different colours, and in various sizes and configurations. Despite the apparent delicate nature of their petals, they prove to be tough plants. These daisies have managed to survive the current drought and continue to provide a splash of colour in our garden:
One of the several orange and yellow Namaqualand Daisies grown from seed.
A type of Gazania – note how small its leaves are.
Bought from a nursery a few years ago, this Marguerite is a true survivor.
Van Stadens River Daisy – grown from cuttings taken from my mother’s farm garden.
An unknown survivor from a packet of mixed indigenous seeds planted three years ago.
The postage stamp size garden I am endeavouring to maintain with far too little water has yielded great pleasure in terms of colour. Especially pleasing are the Namaqualand / African daisies. I planted a packet of out-of-date seeds in the bare, dry ground with great faith and have watched them anxiously from the first tiny shoots to the orange and yellow flowers that open with the sun and wave merrily in the breezes.
Growing plants from seeds in a drought is a risky affair and so I caved in once our local nursery opened and bought calendula seedlings. These have survived being chomped by several locusts to produce pretty blooms, such as this one.
The miniature marigolds were also purchased as seedlings, but very few have survived the onslaught of snails.
This Van Stadens River Daisy (Dimorphotheca ecklonis) originates from plants my late mother grew on our farm in the now Mpumalanga.
To my considerable joy, several self-sown cosmos have grown up from last year’s crop.
A very strange thing I have discovered since the COVID-19 lockdown began is that there are no flower seeds for sale in the supermarkets. At first they weren’t allowed to sell any seeds (don’t ask) and now only have vegetable seeds on offer!
Having waited months for rain and watched the dams dry up, the grass shrivel and die, leaves fall off trees to expose bare branches, and to live under relentless blue skies so beautiful it hurt to look up in the intense heat day after day, after day … it rained. Not enough to ease our water situation – our town still has no running water available several days in the week – but enough for nature to take the gap and do what it should have been able to do in the spring. To quote from Keats, we had to ask Where are the songs of Spring? / Ay, where are they? Now, as summer barrels towards autumn, we are experiencing a spring-like growth in the garden. Not only are the trees that were so bare a matter of weeks ago able to cast deep shade, but the Pompon trees (Dais cotinifolia) are sporting tiny flower buds.
Cosmos seeds planted with enthusiasm at the end of winter have blossomed at last.
The Van Staden’s River Daisy (Dimorphotheca ecklonis) is putting out a few blossoms that are attracting insects.
Crossberry (Grewia occidentalis) flowers are out.
So are the Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata).
Soon the garden will be brightened when the Cape Honeysuckle (Tecoma capensis) comes out in full bloom.
Don’t for a moment think my garden is awash with flowers. These are the few, very few, that have made it through a scorching summer. The important thing is that they have survived and are doing their best to ensure the survival of their species.