Gaillardia X grandiflora

In high summer there is an outburst of composite daisy flowers which take their hot colouring from the sun. Some think their brightness is fitting for the time of year, others find them gaudy, but the gardener cannot ignore them, or he would be short of flowers until the pink and blue revivals of autumn.

Among the finest of the big ray-flowered daisies is Gaillardia x grandiflora, a hardy perennial from North America, best chosen from several handsome hybrids in sunset colours, like ‘Wirral Flame’, a deep red with petals tipped with gold, or the orange ‘Mandarin’. They are quite tall plants, 30 inches (75 cm) high in some varieties, and tend to flop without support. They flower for some three months and cut well.

With what colours will you plant them? Some gardeners like to soften the blaze of orange and yellow with blue flowers, like Michaelmas daisies or Eryngium x olivenanum, a metallic blue sea holly. Others go the whole hog and make a fiery garden with red, orange and gold plants, like Grocosmia, Lychnis, red hot pokers, achilleas, and shrubby hypericums. The flamboyant colours being set off by the sombre green of Irish yews. But even in this dark background there was colour, for a climbing nasturtium, Tropaeolum speciosum, threaded its way up the yews, here and there darting out a scarlet tongue.

Gaillardia likes light, well-drained soil and full sun, and should be planted in clumps 18 inches (45 cm) apart.

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