This was a busy weekend around Casa y jardín IVG, primarily because I had to do some work I brought home from the office which took up significant amounts of time. Combine that with mega loads of laundry that needed to be done and regular household duties, and I just didn't find the time to get out in the garden with the camera. I did notice that the 'Kopper King' hibiscus has started blooming, so tomorrow I've got to get out and get some shots of it, as well as 'Blue River' which continues indefatigably its spectacular show back in the same space.
So, faute de mieux, as my French friends would say, I remembered I had some previous drafts I'd saved but never quite gotten around to writing up and thought now was as good a time as ever!
Last year I wrote about the appearance of sports in certain species in the garden, and in that instance I focused on Calendula and Celosia as the two main examples from which we could consistently expect new forms to appear from year to year. Well this year, one of the volunteer blanket flowers (Gaillardia aristata) along the walk decided to join the club. I can't say that I was really surprised to see this happen, since we've had them around long enough to foster the occasional mutation, but it was a bit of shock to see this entirely new variation on a classic wildflower popping up.
Since breeders are constantly tinkering with Gaillardia and new varieties are hitting the market with regularity the past few years, I figured they must lend themselves pretty easily to crosses. Even so, I haven't been in any hurry to rush out and plant the newest colour variation or double blooming cultivar ... I'm quite happy with the wildflowers we have right now. In principle, I'm generally not disposed to adopt most hybrid cultivars because I prefer to see the plant in its purest form, (with a few notable exceptions, namely the 'Kopper King' hibiscus), but having one just go about it all on its own is another matter entirely. I have to say I'm quite pleased to see this variation crop up, as it clearly retains its Gaillardia origins, yet provides an attractive variation upon the classic scheme of red, yellow and bronzy colours. Both of these shots represent blooms on the same plant, which also begs the question of which will really become dominant in future generations ... I definitely plan on collecting seeds from this one so that I can see next year whether it will return 'true' (well, as close as it could, being a sport) or whether it will revert to the more classic blanket flower appearance.
Though I've written previously about the merits of growing Gaillardia aristata, I'd just like to plug it one more time for those of you who might need a pretty, ultra easy and neglect friendly flower to fill in a dryish space in blazing sun and poor soil ... in those respects Gaillardia truly excels, and once it begins blooming in early summer, only a hard frost will stop it. If you don't deadhead it frequently (which does promote significant re-blooming), it will soon establish itself happily wherever it happens to land in the garden ... but really, unless it's crowding out one of your prized flowers, how could you deny it its own bit of territory? That's a question I find hard to answer, and though I've weeded them out before and sent them to new homes, I've reversed course on that directive and vowed to let them have their way in the garden. They're just too pretty and tenacious to discourage, and they make great cut flowers too! Nuff said. Let em grow!!!