10 June 2010

the eyes have it

I think ox-eye daisy are irresistible.  I am not alone in this.  The flowers are constantly busy with any number of small things going about their busy business.  A quick walk round the garden reveals why they are right at the top of my must-have-for-wildlife plant list.   

A mining bee,

and a greenbottle make the most of the open faced flowers.

Harlequin ladybirds, in 'mostly black'

and 'traditional' forms, hunt for aphids on the heads.

Tiny white-faced bees feed from the flowers - males also patrol and unceremoniously mate feeding females, the violation doesn't interrupt their meal. 

When downtrodden or flattened by bags, snails will get to work to graze the open florets.

Ox-eye daisy, Leucanthemum vulgare, a common wildflower, will grow anywhere with good drainage and some sun, are reasonably drought tolerant - they grow here unwatered on broken brick filled gabions - and they flower for a long season.  If they have any faults in a garden it is that they will grow far too lushly on rich soil and collapse messily.  They are better in spartan conditions.  They are short lived and easily succumb to bossy neighbours but they will move around a garden by seeding into any suitable places and here have designs on conquering the paths where there is little competition.  Of course left here the flowers would be crushed underfoot so in early autumn I rip up the plants, tear them to pieces and poke the bits into any spare corners.  They will all take and be flowering by the following summer. Well done them! 

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