Argyranthemum frutescens 'Jamaica Primrose' AGM
Argyranthemum frutescens 'Jamaica Primrose' AGM Credit: gapphotos.com

Despite the great abundance of unusual endemic plant life on the Canary Islands, it was the pursuit of pine trees that took me to the archipelago two years ago, researching Pinus canariensis for a book on diverse forests. I was familiar with the Canaries’ renown as an isolated botanical treasure trove – enough to ensure a hastily packed local flora guidebook – though this was overridden in the weeks preceding my trip by a fixation with Gran Canaria’s ghostly “cloud” forests: pines engulfed in a murky sea mist that condenses and drips from their needles.

三级成人视频Fortunately, in stalking Canary pines across the volcanic island’s sunny flats and deep fissures, I was inadvertently introduced to many of its enigmatic occupants: giant sonchus thistles, purple-pink May-flowers, strange tubular euphorbias, creeping trefoils and ruby houseleeks.

A moment I will never forget, however, came at sunset on the dry slopes below Gran Canaria’s monolithic central peak, Roque Nublo. Preparing to photograph a re-establishing pine forest in peak evening light, I had perched among hot, dusty rocks, waiting for the sun to dip. When it did, flowers all around me, previously bleached-out by harsh overhead sunshine, came suddenly to life: hundreds of glowing shrub echiums, pretty pink wallflowers and, almost everywhere I looked, mounds of silver-white argyranthemum, the island’s native daisy. I had been sitting in a florist’s workshop, completely unaware.

Argyranthemums in the Canary Isles Credit: Matt Collins

Argyranthemums – popularly known as Paris daisies – are perhaps the Canaries’ greatest offering to the horticultural world; an asset that, for the gardener at least, outweighs all the sandy beaches, resort hotels and happy hours of the islands put together. More compact than a cosmos, taller than an osteospermum and longer-blooming than either shasta or aster, it is a daisy perfectly suited to a sun-trapped hotspot, and has become an irreplaceable fixture of the British patio. Much like Darwin’s finches of the Galapagos, argyranthemums evolved on separate islands right across the Canary archipelago, resulting in a range of related yet independent forms.

In Tenerife grows the fennel-leaved A. foeniculaceum; in La Gomera a pale yellow species. A cluster-flowering variant is found in the mountainous desert of Fuerteventura, while dainty, erigeron-like A. filifolium is a Gran Canarian, seen basking on the island’s southern slopes in the company of hard-wearing succulents.

The most common species, however, resident on all but two of the islands, is A. frutescens三级成人视频 – the true Paris daisy – from which most garden cultivars descend. Its exposed and sun-beaten native Atlantic soil has imbued it with the desirable qualities of drought-tolerance, resistance to wind and an overgenerous display of flowers: the horticultural holy trinity.

Argyranthemum frutescens Vancouver Credit: gapphotos.com

Unfairly prejudiced against many half-hardy “bedding” plants, it took me a while to warm to the Paris daisy. It wasn’t until growing the all-yellow cultivar A.三级成人视频 ‘Jamaica Primrose’ in a client’s garden – prescribed by its designer – that I understood the appeal. Besides large and reliable flowers, argys can mingle quite naturally with other plants, whether in the border or as part of a container display; a quality often absent in conventional bedding.

Sarah Raven, for example, advocates pairing Argyranthemum frutescens with the silvery leaves of Artemisia schmidtiana. A similar effect can be achieved using cotton lavender (Santolina spp.), Stachys byzantina or Centaurea cineraria. Similarly, Paris daisies look great alongside slender salvias (e.g. S. nemorosa or Salvia x sylvestris cvs.), just as you see ox-eyes mixing tantalisingly with purple meadow sage in wild European meadows.

Though A. frutescens is the source species for most garden Paris daisies, intergeneric breeding within the aster family – in particular the annual chrysanthemum, Glebionis coronaria三级成人视频 – has produced colourful forms widely available from commercial growers. Most notable among them is the ‘Grandaisy’ series, offering shades in red, pink and yellow, all with dark disks at their centre. Of these, ‘Pink Halo’ and ‘Ivory Halo’ are particularly attractive.

Container filled with Verbena 'Peaches and Cream', petunia, plumbago and Argyranthemum 'Jamaica Primrose' Credit: gapphotos.com

At the extreme “showy” end are the likes of A. ‘Mary Wootton’ and A. ‘Vancouver’, whose disk florets upstage periphery petals to appear like bright pink sea urchins. There are, of course, those argys trained into slender-stalked, “standard” lollipops. Unfortunately, in the garden these possess the natural blending-in capacity of a flamingo in a farmyard, though perhaps this is the desired effect.

On the whole, however, argyranthemums are a shimmering addition to the summer garden, and therefore worth the cultivation demands of a frost-tender perennial.

三级成人视频The chief concern, then – for those of us gardening in colder climes – is getting plants through the winter. A long flowering season means your argys will likely bloom right up until the first frost. In advance of a fatal cold snap, lift and bring plants in to either a greenhouse, cool windowsill or, better still, a cold frame; giving them a light chop back as you do so. From these trimmings you can make semi-ripe cuttings, snipping just below a node, dipping the base in rooting powder and placing in moist compost. I often repeat this process in late April/May, taking cuttings from my cuttings, to produce backup plants raring with spring vigour.

Regular propagation like this has kept my ‘Jamaica Primrose’ argyranthemums going for more than a decade, and it’s always a joy to see how quickly big new bushy plants develop from the smallest of sprigs. So, given the late start purchasing plants this year, on account of lockdown, argyranthemums are the ideal flower to throw into a pot now: they’ll be out and blooming before you know it, bringing the sunny Atlantic isles to your doorstep.

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