English Daisy

English daisy or a British Invasion?

Garden varieties with fluffier white, pink or pinkish red flowers, and more mounding foliar growth, are popular annuals. With grooming, they might survive as short term perennials. The more familiar form of English daisy, Bellis perennis, though, is a persistent perennial that commonly infests lawns. Stems stay very low. Flowers are white with yellow centers. 

Some consider English daisy to be a noxious weed in turf. Others like its random drifts of white bloom on otherwise plain lawns. English daisy works nicely as a rustic component of mixed perennials too. The common weedy form is unavailable in nurseries, but is very easy to divide from established colonies. Once established, it is impossible to eradicate.

Bloom is most profuse about now, and can continue in random minor phases until cooler weather late in autumn. Sporadic bloom is possible during winter. Warm and dry weather during summer can inhibit bloom temporarily. English daisy prefers partially shaded sites and steady watering. Flowers are an inch wide. The spatulate leaves are less than two inches long.


Lawn Weeds Are Low Down

Lawns require significant maintenance and weeding.

Weeds are constantly a problem here. There is no season in which every sort of weed is inactive. As some annual types finish dispersing seed and die off for winter, others begin their season. Most weeds just happen to be most active as winter becomes spring. They try to stay ahead of desirable plants. Lawn weeds have been proliferating faster than turf. 

Annual weeds were easiest to pull while still dispersing roots, and while the soil was still damp from winter rain. Biennial weeds that grew last year are more firmly rooted, even if their soil is damp. Perennial weeds are most persistent, with extensively dispersed roots. Of course, as lawn weeds, all three types are more challenging than in the open ground.

Separation of weeds from turf grass is significantly more work than pulling weeds alone. It is not so easy to reach down into the roots of the weeds. Nor is it so easy to pull weeds without pulling some of the turf grass with them. The process is likely to leave bald spots. Many of the persistent perennial lawn weeds are more firmly rooted than the turf grass is. 

Dandelion is notorious for leaving bits of root behind when pulled. These bits regenerate into new plants that are even more difficult to pull than the originals. The various species of oxalis persist by various means. Some produce bulbs or offsets that are impossible to separate from the soil. Others develop thick networks of sinewy stolons that break apart.

Some persistent lawn weeds, such as plantain and English daisy, as well as many of the feral grasses, are so difficult to eradicate that they ultimately integrate into the lawns that they infest. It is simply easier to mow over them than to try to eliminate them. They never quite assimilate though, so interfere with the uniformity of color and texture of their lawns. 

Unfortunately, some lawn weeds do worse than merely compromise the visual appeal of turf. Burclover and foxtail can be dangerous to pets. Their seed is designed to stick to fur. Burclover seed structures can tangle and accumulate in long fur, causing dense matting. Foxtail seed structures can lodge into eyes, nostrils, throats and ears, or pierce soft skin.

Scarlet Pimpernel

P80826It is pretty but pervasive. Actually, I do not really find scarlet pimpernel to be all that appealing, but this is how someone who reads my gardening column in the Santa Ynes Valley News describes it. Embarrassingly, she requested that I discuss scarlet pimpernel while it was more of a problem back on June 7, but I only recently read the message. By now, it is already dying back for autumn, and is completely deteriorated in dry and hot exposed areas. It will be back next spring, and will bloom with tiny peachy orange flowers so that it can throw tiny but ridiculously abundant seed by summer before anyone notices. Flowers can be other colors in other regions. The sprawling stems can spread more than a foot wide, and can get up to about ten inches high if sprawling over other weeds. The tiny and soft leaves are arranged in opposing pairs. Scarlet pimpernel may not seem like much of a threat now that it is deteriorating, but new seedlings will be profuse early next spring, and can compete with seedlings of more desirable plants.
Control of scarlet pimpernel is not easy. If application of herbicide is an option, it does not stick to the foliage of scarlet pimpernel very well, even with a wetting agent. Hoeing eliminated larger plants, but does not kill the seed that the larger plants have already tossed. Scarlet pimpernel starts throwing seed so early that it must be pulled as soon as it appears in very early spring. Like I said, it is not easy. The small plants are not even easy to see. The process must be repeated at least weekly for a while, just because some seedlings will emerge after the first batch is gone.
Fortunately, scarlet pimpernel is not very vigorous. If it comes up through mulch, only a few plants will survive, and they will be easy to pull. They do not compete with other more vigorous plants well either. Many simple ground covers will simply shade it out, although it can mingle with and ruin some of the finely textured ground covers like baby tears and thyme.
I am sorry that I do not have any more information about scarlet pimpernel than is commonly known. I am speaking primarily from experience, and my experience has not been as bad as with other more aggressive weeds. Scarlet pimpernel always seems to be around, but is not so much of a problem that I am too worried about annihilating it completely.P80826+

English Daisy

70419Once it gets into a lawn, English daisy, Bellis perennis, can be very difficult to get rid of without leaving bald spots. The thin but tough rhizomes creep along the ground, producing rounded leaves that get no longer than two inches. Mowers barely scratch the surface. English daisy seems to prefer partly shaded areas to drier sunny spots. Although invasive, it can be pretty in informal lawns.

The inch wide white flowers with yellow centers bloom in phases throughout the year. They are least abundant during cool winter weather, and most abundant about now, as weather gets warmer in spring. Garden varieties have more clumping growth, and slightly larger white, pink or rosy red flowers, all with yellow centers. Some have plumply double flowers. They are grown as flowering annuals, but can perform for a few years as light duty perennials.

Six on Saturday: Weeds of Felton Covered Bridge Park


Although it is not my own garden, I have obtained some of my plants here, and have planted a few here too. I write about or mention Felton Covered Bridge Park too often to bother posting links to other posts about it. #1 and #2 are not exactly weeds, but were not planted here either. They were likely taken by the San Lorenzo River from gardens upstream, and deposited here.

1. Snowdrop! It seems that everyone else has been posting pictures of theirs, and I had nothing to brag about. I did not know they were here. However, these are Leucojum aestivum rather than a species of Galanthus.

2. Daffodil foliage emerges annually, but gets cut down by the ‘gardeners’ with their weed whackers. This is only the second time they have bloomed.P80210+
3. Periwinkle is a prolific weed throughout the Santa Cruz Mountains.P80210++
4. English daisy is a prolific weed in lawns in mild climates. Most if not all of the lawns in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco are infested with it; but it is too pretty to dislike.P80210+++
5. Dandelion is another prolific lawn weed that is easier to dislike.P80210++++
6. Dandelion seed is very abundant and very easily blown about.P80210+++++
This is the link for Six on Saturday, for anyone else who would like to participate: