Blanket flower or gaillardia is gradually gaining popularity in Britain, having been somewhat upstaged by fellow summer-flowering perennial, helenium.
Like helenium, gaillardia is in the daisy family Asteraceae, producing bright, cheery flowers in shades of yellow, red and orange, often in bold, contrasting bands of colour, and individually larger than that of helenium, with a bold central disc.
Others in the 20 or so gaillardia species are less commonly grown, but have flowers in shades of purple, brown and white and are found throughout North America and through into South America. Most are perennial, while some are annual or short-lived perennials, with double-flowered G. pulchella ‘Sundance’ in yellow and red shades most commonly encountered.
Most varieties are from G. grandiflora, a hybrid between G. pulchella and perennial G. aristata. Recent breeding has created varieties more reliably perennial and improved the onset of flowering to June, continuing through to late summer, especially if regularly deadheaded. Most attain 30-60cm (1-2ft) in stature, the perennial types being clothed in grey-green leaves. The flowers attract bees and butterflies and are also good for cutting.
They like well-drained soil in full sun, becoming floppy in overly-rich, continually damp soils. Such conditions are likely to cause rotting in winter. They also don’t perform well in heavy, clay soils.