|Shasta Daisies form large clumps with|
plenty of food for beneficial insects.
We had more rain yesterday. The temperature dropped to 32 degrees last night and another freeze tonight. Springdale seems to have mild winters but a reluctance to let go of freezing weather.
When I went to WalMart in the bitter wind and rain, my first thought was to check out the plants. I thought, "The only ones I want are Shasta Daisies." The following reasons should help -
Shasta daisy FAMILY Asteraceae (aster) • perennial, USDA zones 5–9 • native to Europe • blooms mid to late summer • 1–4 feet (0.3–1.25 m) high, 3–4 feet (1–1.25 m) wide
Shastas are classic-looking daisies—a central core of tiny yellow disk flowers surrounded by white ray flowers. Each of these inflorescences measures 2 or more inches (5 cm) across. The plant’s glossy dark green leaves have small teeth on their margins and create good habitat for predatory bugs like assassin, damsel, and spined soldier bugs. The nectar and pollen from the flowers is preferred by some species of parasitic wasps, minute pirate bugs, lacewings, soldier beetles, ladybugs, and syrphid flies. I propose that you plant this daisy instead of the oxeye daisy (Chrysanthemum leucanthemum, syn. Leucanthemum vulgare), which is often recommended for insectary plantings but is also on the noxious weed list for many states. Oxeye daisy does, indeed, support beneficials, but it is an aggressive grower that overtakes pastures and displaces native plant species. Although the Shasta daisy, too, is a European introduction, it is far less assertive and is also an attractive garden plant and cut flower.
Walliser, Jessica. Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden: A Natural Approach to Pest Control (Kindle Locations 2375-2390). Timber Press. Kindle Edition.
Note the good insects (in red) attracted to the Shasta Daisy. These insects are the ones that attack the pests of the rose garden, so I will plant some daisies among the roses. I also have some well-behaved mints and small bushes in the same area. Jessica Walliser argues that an immaculate lawn offers little support for beneficial insects, which must fly in from wilder places to do their work. In general, beneficial insects feast on pollen and nectar, but their young devour pests - after hatching on, in, or near the destructive insects.
I would rather spend $6 on a Shasta Daisy than $60 on a lawn service that kills all the insects and spiders that do the real work.
|White Profusion Butterfly Bushes are ideal|
for growing into a large screen by the window,
an attractive waiting room for the bird feeder.
Our early spring coaxed the Butterfly Bushes - and other plants - into leafing out. I expect the latest growth will be zapped again, but they will bounce back with a few more days of rain and warm sunshine.
The more I prune back, the more they will flower (on new growth). On the other hand, I want them as screens and bird perches, so I will encourage maximum height. Like Crepe Myrtle, they can have their blooms cut for even more blooms.
Our birds are so well trained that they eat toxic poke berries and plant the enormous weed in our yard - capable of reaching 20 feet.
Like many other plants, Pokes annoyed me - until I realized how much the birds love their berries and the insects love their flowers. Poke salad is well known around here, but I am not tempted to boil and eat it.
Creation Gardening Means Letting the Creatures Work
Gardening is like writing - a lot of editing is involved. If I finally move the rotten stump near the water faucet, the combination of wood, water, and soil will create a small habitat to generate food for toads and birds.
My neighbor's leaves make a carpet near the bird feeders to provide another source of food for them - worms, bugs, and spiders. They perch on the bushes and stumps, look for mulch moving, and pounce on food tor their nestlings and themselves.
We have a zoo and gardens for the grandchildren to enjoy during Team Jackson BBQs. Something is always happening.