There are some summer daisies that have become classics of cottage and country-style gardens. Anthemis, or Dyers camomile is one of them, with the best species and varieties, such as ‘Susanna Mitchell’ and ‘E. C. Buxton’ almost prerequisite.
Anthemis are a group of around 100 or more aromatic plants from the Mediterranean and into Africa, spanning clump-forming perennials, often short-lived, and tussock or mat-forming woody shrublets.
A handful of the clump-forming species have become favourite border plants, with one species A. tinctoria spawning more than 10 varieties, and an important parent in other hybrids.
Their cheery, long-stalked, gold-centred flowers appear in June through to high summer over dissected, aromatic bright to grey-green foliage. Blossoms come in a range of orange and yellow tones, through pale primrose to white, the paler kinds possessing peerless poise and elegance. They also effortlessly combine with rich blues and stronger yellows.
All anthemis enjoy sun and well-drained soil and if they get this are easy to grow. They also need good air, becoming mildewed in dank, wet conditions. They also tend to flop in heavy rain or if they over-grow in too rich soil, so be ready with support.
After flowering chop down spent shoots to encourage fresh new growth. Being short-lived you will need to divide plants in spring or replace them every few years.
Anthemis can be grown from seed sown in early spring. More perennial kinds can also be raised from shoots removed from the base of plants in summer.
Fact: dried flower heads of A. tinctoria yields a yellow dye, which is good on silk and wool.
Six anthemis varieties to boost summer borders
A. sancti-joannis - Bushy, short-lived perennial, producing orange-yellow daisies over grey-green foliage. H/S: 0.6m (24in). Available from Chiltern Seeds or Tel: 01491 824675
A. tinctoria ‘E. C. Buxton’ - Pretty lemon-yellow daisies over a long season. Dissected grey-green foliage. Perennial variety. H: 60cm (24in) S:75cm (30in). Available from Crocus or Tel: 01344 578111
A. tinctoria ‘Kelwayi’ - Short-lived form producing yellow daisies over a mound of ferny green foliage. H: 75cm (30in) S: 40cm (15in). Available from Chiltern Seeds or Tel: 01491 824675
‘Susanna Mitchell’ - Creamy-petalled daisies with primrose centre and silvery-grey foliage. Flowers earlier than other varieties. H/S: 60cm (24in). Available from Macplants Berrybank Nursery or Tel: 012875 341179
‘Tetworth’ - Bushy, mounding plant with grey-green foliage. Lots of white, yellow centred daisies for many weeks. H/S: 60cm (24in). Available from Langthorns Plantery or Tel: 01371 872611
‘Wargrave Variety’ - Creamy-yellow daisies over dissected grey-green foliage. H/S: 60cm (24in). Available from Beth Chatto or Tel: 01206 822007