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Gardening Club.

THE most determined daisies of summer in my garden are argyranthemums, writes Peter Surridge. They started flowering in pots in July and, with the help of regular feeding, watering and dead-heading, are still displaying their blooms.

Argyranthemums are those perennial daisies once called marguerites or Canary Islands chrysanthemums. Indeed, for many years they were classified as chrysanthemums.

The sunny yellow of Argyranthemum frutescens, first caught my attention several years ago. Not only did it grow quickly to nearly 3ft (90cm) and flower throughout the summer but it also thrived in dry, poor soil and sprouted readily from cuttings.

No wonder, then, that various forms of argyranthemum have combined to become the vogue plant.

The name, from the Greek, means silver flower, and there are appropriately many species with white flowers and Argyranthemum foeniculaceum, have become the classic form.

The plants need fairly large pots but not so large that they are impossible to move. Severe winter weather can kill them so they are best hauled into a greenhouse or some other protected position.

A lightly heated greenhouse will often be adequate because argyranthemums tolerate a few degrees of frost as long as they are kept fairly dry.

Protection is especially worthwhile if you have grown a specimen to an impressive sturdiness over three or four years. But for border display it is less trouble to take nodal cuttings in August or early September - like pelargoniums - as a safeguard.

The plants are so floriferous that the hardest part of this can be finding those non-flowering shoots which are ideal for cuttings. Argyranthemums seem to be comprised entirely of branches which have flowered or are threatening to do so.

If necessary, settle for shoots bearing flower buds. Take 10cm (4in) cuttings, nip off the flower buds, make the base cut immediately beneath a leaf node (joint), keep just two or three leaves near the top of the cutting, and insert the shoots in a gritty cuttings compost in pots. Stand them in semi-shade in a greenhouse or windowsill at 10C-16C (50F-60F) and they will root over winter.

The range of colours extends to peach - there's a short spreading variety, good for bedding, called Peach Cheeks; pink - the vigorous, upright Vancouver with cushion-like centres; and red - Rollason's Red has large flowers in a deep, glowing colour which gradually fades, and a golden ring round the dark centre.

Form and size also vary. As well as the cushion centres with sparse petals, there are doubles and singles in white, yellows and pinks.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Sep 1, 2001
Words:422
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