When I lived in Pennsylvania, there was a wild flower that popped up occasionally in open grassy places where the soil was disturbed, sometimes with native rudbeckias. Eastern daisy fleabane was a tall annual with pretty white, yellow-eyed daisy flowers, but I never thought to grow it in the garden.
Then I spotted it – Erigeron annuus - in the Special Plants catalogue, they were listing seedlings and recommending it as a cut flower. So I had to try it. And it’s been brilliant.
After a slow start it’s now reached 1.2-1.5m and it’s been flowering for many weeks. The stems are stiff, the plants branch well, but setting them out 30cm apart proved to be too close as it’s tricky to extract the cut stems from the mass of branched growth without damaging them.
The flowers last well after cutting and make an ideal foamy foil to other flowers and these dainty daisies have a neat spiralled way of opening that repays close inspection in a bouquet. Cut flower growers should give it a try and it would also be good to try in prairie-style plantings.
The Flora of North America tells me that E. annuus is an annual, and it certainly looks like one. Its close relative E. strigosus is reckoned to be an annual or biennial or short-lived perennial. We shall see. I’ll be collecting some seed, and leaving some of it to self sow, and I’ll also be a leaving a few plants to see if they last the winter and re-emerge next spring. I really do suggest you give it a go.
* A month after the above picture, yesterday I took this one - still going strong...