Mostly Daisies

Brute force crushes many plants. Yet the plants rise again. The Pyramids will not last a moment compared with the daisy.

–D.H. Lawrence

When we first moved here 12 years ago, there were no flower beds. There was a lot of grass to mow and a few flowers, including:

  • rose bush (‘Joseph’s Coat’)
  • Centaurea Montana (Mountain Knapweed or Greater Blue Bottle)
  • daffodils
  • brown bearded irises
  • wild (Nootka) roses
  • lots and lots of daisies

Centaurea montana in Curtis Botanical Magazine

In hindsight, perhaps I should have left well enough alone. There was mowing to do, but not much weeding or watering. Of course, I had cultivated flower beds all my adult life and kind of missed them, but I was retired now (it was quite an early retirement–I’m  not as ancient as you might think), so perhaps it was time to put all that weeding and watering behind me and just have an easier life.

The first winter we were here, I got into the habit of burying our compost as it accumulated. I chose a spot along the slope just east of the house, and dug through clay, shell and rock until I had a hole deep enough to hold the compost and keep the creatures away. This wasn’t entirely successful, at least as far as keeping the creatures away, but when they did discover my compost caches, their digging had the effect of enlarging the holes I’d dug. The creatures and I were in the process of creating an accidental garden bed together. By the next Fall, I saw the first worms I had seen on the property. How does this happen? How do they appear, seemingly out of nowhere, as soon as there is work for them to do?

That’s how it all started. Now there are seven flower beds, involving a great deal of weeding, watering and soil improvement. It’s a bit insane, but the various flowers growing in these beds are a source of inspiration and content for my paintings and these blog posts. Of course, we still have the daisies. Through every late spring and summer, we leave large areas of lawn unmown, giving the daisies a chance to grow and bloom. Here, children can run through a field of flowers without being admonished for trampling some of them down. They can pick them for daisy chains or pluck the petals one by one, while chanting “he loves me, he loves me not”. It’s no problem because, if you were to count all the flowers in my garden, it would still be mostly daisies.

'Mostly Daisies', watercolour and gouache, 18" x 21"

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