Photo and article by Donna Iverson
If you want a flowering plant that:
Then be on the lookout for Gazania, commonly known as the African daisy.
Every spring, I plant something that I have never grown before..something that catches my eye. This year, I spied the colorful petals of the Gazania plant at the Muskegon farmers market. Trays of these seedlings covered a counter at a stall featuring plants grown by Dianne Snow of Coopersville.
Filling my basket, I carried them over to my community garden bed and carefully dug them in. My bed contains both vegetables and flowers in an effort to create a potager. A potager is a garden that is both productive, ornamental and very French.
A member of the Aster family, Gazania comes in the warm colors of red, orange, yellow, pink and cream. There are also variegated varieties. It grows to about 10 inches tall with 4 inch flower heads that close at night and on cloudy days. Deadhead for continuous bloom. It is best purchased as seedlings unless you have a greenhouse or indoor sunny windowsill to grow from seed during the winter.
Add it to a rock, xeriscape, or Mediterranean garden. It also grows well in pots and hanging baskets. Varieties have names like Sunbathers, Daybreak, and Kontiki Violet. Gazania is named after a Greek-Italian scholar of the 15th century named Theodorus of Gaza.
On the downside, Gazania is not a native to our area but it is not invasive and although technically a perennial, it will not survive our cold winters and thus should be treated as an annual.