Against the odds

A surprise success this summer has been the gaillardias, sown in spring. I was pretty sure they were supposed to be yellow, which is part of the surprise since every plant has red flowers. But the real surprise has been that they have grown. They were some of the last plants put in the ground, in rather awkward places that needed filling and, as a consequence, did not get much water after planting and none during the hot, dry weather. I am not usually cruel to my plants and I did feel guilty that these poor youngsters looked so awful at first. But they managed to extract some moisture from the seemingly dust dry soil, and actually increased in size. Although it looked as though they were putting all their efforts into growth above ground they must have been growing just as fast below ground because those roots must have been searching out water. The result is that they have knitted together and are producing lots of flowers.

Gaillardias are often called blanket flowers and I am not sure if this is because: the flower patterns, in yellow and red, resemble the patterns that feature in the weaving of Native American people, who live where these plants flower; or because the flowers ‘blanket’ great areas of land when in bloom or because of the fluffy centre to the ‘flowers’. There are many species and I think these are G. pulchella which is an annual. But the annuals can overwinter in well drained soil and the perennials can die in wet soils and are not longlived anyway. The annuals are often sold as doubles, which have pompon flowers in fiery shades but I like the singles far more.

Plant breeders have recognised the merits of these plants and there are lots of cultivars, often with tubular ray florets and most of compact habit. I think mine must be ‘Arizona Red Shades’ and they are rather loose and airy in habit, compared to the more usual dwarfed kinds, and much the better for that. Even when the ray florets wither, and the ‘flower is dead’ the central disc remains fluffy and attractive.

The species itself has a wide natural range from Nebraska in the north, west to Colorado and Arizona and south into Texas and Mexico. Gaillardia aristata is similar but perennial and G. x grandiflora is a hybrid of the two. I think the names are confused in cultivation.

While so many plants have been looking so awful in the heat, the fact that these actually established and grew is mightily impressive and the butterflies are very grateful. I have a real respect for these pretty plants.

Other plants are battling on but not as impressive as they should be. Amaranthus ‘Hot Biscuits’ is only half the height it should be, but is probably a better companion to this short kniphofia for that.

And the eucomis mentioned last week have finally bloomed. I popped in some pony tail grass around them this spring for contrast and they do soften the impact a little and help them fit into the planting.

, ,

2 Comments on “Against the odds”

  1. Paddy Tobin
    August 25, 2022 at 10:25 am #

    Seems like a very good plant.

  2. Meriel in Wicklow
    August 25, 2022 at 2:14 pm #

    All lovely as usual. I especially like the Eucomis and it’s Stippa ‘pony tails’ partner.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Sweetgum and Pines

gardening in the North Carolina piedmont

Ravenscourt Gardens

Learning life's lessons in the garden!

RMW: the blog

Roslyn's photography, art, cats, exploring, writing, life

Paddy Tobin, An Irish Gardener

Our garden, gardens visited, occasional thoughts and book reviews


un altro blog sul giardinaggio...


four decades of organic vegetable gardening and barely a clue

The Long Garden Path

A walk round the Estate!


Gardening on the edge of a cliff

Uprooted Magnolia

I'm Leah, a freelance Photographer born and raised in Macon, GA, USA. I spent 8 years in the wild west and this is my photo journal on life, love, and the spirit of Wyoming. Welcome to Uprooted Magnolia.

Interesting Literature

A Library of Literary Interestingness

Garden Variety

A Gardening, Outdoor Lifestyle and Organic Food & Drink Blog

For the Love of Iris

Articles, Tips and Notes from Schreiner's Iris Gardens

One Bean Row

Words and pictures from an Irish garden by Jane Powers

Plant Heritage

We are working to save garden plants for people to use and enjoy today and tomorrow


An English persons experience of living and gardening in Ireland

%d bloggers like this: