Monday, June 25, 2012

Shasta Daisies~

My Twenty five Year Old Daisies! This week Sumer will be here in full force and with its arrival the Shasta daisies will begin to flower in splendid form. As one of the first hybridized American flowers, it has long been a staple in every garden, easily living for more than 40 years. Created by Mr. Luther Burbank one side of her ancestors are the Oxeye Daisy which grows wild in New England and receives no respect; she is considered a nuisance by farmers. The other side of her family is the English Field daisy, which has a far more fanciful history than the American daisy. The origin of the Daisy according to Roman mythology is a typical story. Apparently the god of orchards was lustfully watching a group of nymphs dancing at the edge of the forest when he decided to pursue one of them. She fled and to escape his unwanted attentions turned herself into the daisy so she would go unnoticed. Since that time the daisy has been associated with modesty and during Victorian times ladies who doubted a suitors intentions picked a daisy and slowly removed each petal while asking ’he loves me, he loves me not‘. Henry VIII ate bowls of daisies to help his gout and cure his stomach ailments and it was believed that daisies steeped in wine could cure insanity. Legends aside, Mr. Luther Burbank, who was originally from Massachusetts, spent 6 years carefully crossing the wild daisies and had his own by 1890. He wanted a deep yellow center as the American variety provided and the early profusion of flowers and sturdy stem which came from the English. However he was disappointed that his new daisy lacked the whiteness of petals he desired. So he added the Japanese Field Daisy and although the flowers are small, they provided dazzling white petals. From combining the three, Mr. Burbank succeed in creating his Shasta, introducing it in 1904. He named his flower after Mt. Shasta, the glowing while California Mountain he could see in the distance from his home. With her long life expectancy, the hardy Shasta is easy to care for and spreads nicely while blooming faithfully all Summer. They are a marvelous cut flower in arrangements and although their scent is unremarkable, their shiny little faces positively beam. Thank you Mr. Burbank!