17 July 2011
15 Daisy, daisy ...
What fun we have had, pottering about in the garden at Arley Hall today. I got quite carried away photographing all the daisies*. There were so many!
The garden was first recorded on a map in 1744, but is probably far older than that would suggest. There has been a substantial house on the site since the fifteenth century and it has been home to the Warburton family for over 500 years. Quite by chance we bumped into Michael Warburton Flower while we were there, the current Viscount Ashbrook. Dragging a hosepipe behind him he was watering young plants in the woodland garden; a "never-ending" task, he said. I wanted to ask about the preponderance of daisies, but didn't.
Eye of the day, that's what Chaucer called the daisy. Day's eye, the flower that closes with the dimming light of evening and opens again with the dawn. On this glorious strawberry sundae of a July afternoon all the Arley Hall daisies - in the kitchen garden, the walled garden, and the woodland garden - had turned their faces to the sun.
That men by reason will it calle may
The daisie or elles the eye of day
The emperice, and floure of floures alle.
Chamomile is a member of the daisy family too, and there was an abundance of chamomile nodding to the sun in the herb garden**. Great drifts of it! We drank chamomile tea on the lawn outside the Arley Hall teashop, sitting on ornate white-painted wrought iron chairs ... it seemed appropriate.
Sadly, though I may know chamomile when I see it, I'm no plantswoman. Osteospermum, Aster, Marguerite, Bellis ... I'll hazard we met them all, but I'm not brave enough to caption the rest of my photographs with plant names for fear of embarassment. I will say that my personal preference is for the cool white, yellow and green of the archetypal English daisies, but my goodness these flowers can be hot!
Did you spot the hoverfly? The garden was abuzz with them, all gorging on pollen. Daisies attract hoverflies and hoverflies are highly efficient pollinators that also feast on aphids and leafhoppers, the best kind of biocontrol. Perhaps that's why the gardens at Arley are just bursting with daisies of every kind. Worryingly, we didn't see many bees.
These last were in the kitchen garden, between the runner beans and cabbages and the sweet-peas. Aren't those colours amazing? Wouldn't it be lovely to have such a vibrant cutting garden on one's own little patch!
I didn't entirely restrict myself to photographing daisies, but I'll share the rest of my Arley Hall garden pictures with you another time. And did I mention that there was knitting? I can think of nowhere better to relax and knit a little than a shady corner of an English garden on a sunny summer's day. Can you?
*I should be clear that I'm using daisy in it's broadest sense here, to describe all the daisy like flowers that belong to the order Asterales.
**The sun popped behind the only cloud in the sky just as I took the photographs of the chamomile, can you tell?