Tag Archives: Shasta daisy

Our Lady of the Perennial Garden

Photo by Paul Mayer



A rundown fence runs across our property, and over the fence is the bay. When we moved in, I planted Leucanthemun superbum Becky, a 4’ tall growing Shasta Daisy along the entire fence. A reliable perennial of strong stem and a tendency to spread, every summer we’re more pleased with its performance than the summer before. Last week I cut them all back to two inches, one stem at a time. That’s how the plant comes back, year after year. That is all it asks.

It’s November now and dark and dreary, but something happened to me out there by the fence that afternoon, wrapped in a sweater and parka, wearing gloves and rain boots. As the stems toppled over, I could see spring in my mind’s eye. I could see what I couldn’t see before. I could see that spring is right around the corner and on it’s way. Gardening does this. We live in multiple seasons at once when we garden, and this I consider a miracle of sorts.

Today I climbed upon a steep little hillside to cut back more clumps of Shasta daisy I had planted, for I’ve become very fond of this flower. A shorter growing variety of Leucanthemun superbun known as Silver Princess. Deer hang out on this hillside, and here too, they leave my Shasta daisy alone. “Gifts from the deer,” I call it when I find deer-resistant plants. And again, this one too is a reliable bloomer late spring through summer.

Every year upon this hillside, I note I’m a little less steady. I’m incline now to topple and slide a little more, and I vow to take up yoga finally. A few years back when I first began planting on this slope, I wore my garden clogs. Today I wouldn’t even think of it. The fact is, I am practically on all fours, and dragging my garden tote behind me. And that is how I left my green kneeling pad upon the hillside. Such a metaphor for what I believe in and what my religion is now, I almost hesitated to fetch it and bring it in.




Filed under living in multiple seasons, nature as a religion

Ode to a Flower


Photo by Paul Mayer


Orlando. Congress. This has been a tough time in our country, what poet Beatrix Gates called “the thousand day week.” I am writing an ode to a flower because it’s the only thing pulling me through.

A year ago I planted numerous wallflower, salvia, coneflower, Iceland poppy, lavender, lupine, and Shasta Daisy—practically every perennial I could get my hands on from the drought-resistant, deer-resistant tables at our island nursery. I wanted to see what would thrive on a sunny hillside in our piece of old-growth-forest-on-the-bay.

All that I planted, and all that remains today: a trace of wallflower, a little lavender, and Shasta Daisy.

I should have taken a clue from all the roadside daisies on island. Unless you have something you have to prove to yourself, my theory in gardening is to go with what thrives. And daisy may be this island’s flower. The deer have gifted it to us.

This year the variety of Shasta Daisy I have planted is Leucanthemum ‘Becky,” all along a hundred foot fence on the bank to the water, since that’s another sunny spot. Larger and more robust than the roadside daisy, growing up to 4ft tall and blooming early summer through early fall, they are all I need.

The funny thing is, they’re facing away toward the water and toward the sun. South is south, and there’s nothing we can do about it. It’s all good. Another reminder that we are not the center of the world. If Trump ever tried to garden with his tiny hands he would know that.


Filed under deer-resistant, drought-resistant, perennial, planting

The State of the Garden



The state of the garden is, more or less, just grounds. After a great deal of planning, digging, planting, watering, and anticipation, we are pretty much back to what we had in the first place. A lot by the sea in an old growth forest that had always gone its own way and done what it wanted. I never meant to disturb that; I had only hoped to add a little color.

Sometimes it’s one step forward, two steps back…

After doing my research I put in plants that were both deer-resistant and drought-resistant. (There’s a reason they call it “resistant” rather than “proof.”) This year tested us on both fronts. A long dry spring followed by an exceptionally warm summer, by Pacific Northwest standards, and more Bambis than ever being born perhaps? I don’t know, but I do know that every spring they will be born, and something came along and one by one, beheaded all the blossoms and devoured most of the plants. A hillside of Lupine, Wallflower, Wild Rose, Coneflower and Iceland Poppy.

Our theory is that, as with humans, taste is acquired. The Bambis have no idea yet what the deer ones like to eat and don’t like to eat. And my watering daily in this exceptionally warm climate to help new plantings get established only succeeded in establishing noxious weeds.

It’s like Risky Business around here, with thistles having a hay day.

You might say the state of the grounds now is primarily thistle. Prickly, like the jumping cholla cactus that leaps onto you as you brush by in the desert. Invasive, capable of growing to great height, with roots that extend deep in the soil and spread wide. Break a root trying to pull a thistle plant up, and multiple new thistle plants are likely to sprout.

Who knew all the trouble one could get into on a half-acre lot? If only I had left it alone….

But to be fair, the deer ones are allowing me some plants for which I am grateful: rhododendron, lavender, rosemary, and Shasta daisy. “Why, it is going to be a standing ovation of Shasta daisy along the fence!” I’ve been heard to exclaim.

And that is what I like most about gardening: the eternal optimism.


Filed under gardening with deer and drought