Happy National Garden Week everyone! I actually didn’t realize until today that it is National Garden week, but it works out great since I have a few garden posts in the works for the days ahead. For today’s post I am sharing some new information that I discovered after doing some research about some common “weeds” and “bees” I noticed in our yard and garden.
Over the past two weeks we have had a lot of rain, so our grass grew super tall and was full of weeds. Just before it was time to mow the yard this weekend, I noticed all kinds of pretty little daisies popping up here and there. On a whim, I picked a few and tucked them down in a tiny little green bottle to create a free, impromptu bouquet. So sweet! I am sure you recognize these old-fashioned daisies that are often considered weeds. They commonly grow along the side of the road or where we don’t want them to grow (such as all over our front lawns or in well-manicured flowerbeds!)
When I decided to share some pictures of my little bouquet here on the blog, I did some research to find out more about these particular daisies. I learned quite a few interesting facts! As it turns out, Daisy Fleabane (Erigeron) is considered a weed, herb, and a wildflower. It is a member of the Aster family and certain species of Erigeron may be annual, biennial or perennial.
It has probably been 35 years since I picked these little daisies on a regular basis. As a child I often gifted them to my mother or tucked a few behind my ear when pretending to be a fairy or princess. Quite unexpectedly, I have rediscovered their charm. Here I have displayed my free bouquet under a glass cloche in the breakfast nook.
To me, it’s the simple things in life that bring the most beauty and joy!
Fleabane daisies look similar to other daisies, but they have thinner, wispy petals. These flowers are commonly tinged with pink or purple.
Common White Daisy
Erigeron (Fleabane) is a hardy little plant that is highly beneficial in the garden as a pollinator. It has been used medicinally as a diuretic without offense to the stomach and is believed to have neuroprotective properties. The leaves are edible but hairy, so they taste best when cooked with other greens. In olden days people would make sachets with the petals to ward off fleas and other insects, hence the name, “Fleabane.”
There are also many subspecies and varieties of fleabane. They are quite beautiful en masse!
Photograph by Britt Willoughby Dyer
In my research for today’s post I also discovered the beauty of Erigeron steps, a desireable but somewhat tricky look for magical cottage gardens. A slightly different daisy variety (Mexican Fleabane/Spanish Daisy) is the most common type of daisy used to create dreamy Erigeron steps.
Pollinators love fleabane (and most other varieties of daisies and asters), making fleabane daisies additions to the garden and landscape. Most often they do have a weedy look when growing in the wild, but when purposefully planted in groups or pots they can be quite stunning.
When I went outside to take a close up photo of the daisies for this post, I discovered a visitor. Hmm…friend or foe?
At first I thought it was a small sweat bee, but it is actually a syphrid fly (hoverfly). I hate flies in the garden…but hoverflies are not pests!
Hoverflies are friends! These bee-mimickers look and act like bees, but they lack hairs on their abdomen. They don’t bite or sting, so feel free to examine them up close as they do their beneficial garden work. As their name suggests, you will see them hovering over flowers rather than erratically flying back and forth like many types of bees.
Specific flower preferences differ among species, but hoverflies have been shown to prefer white and yellow flowers. They also love alyssum, chamomile, cilantro, parsley and yarrow.
I already have parsley, dill, cilantro and alyssum in my garden. I also just planted an urn full of flowering cilantro, yarrow and annual Argyranthemums which are also in the aster family. More fun for the hoverflies!
Hoverfly (Flower Fly) Syrphidae enjoying Erigeron daisies in my garden. You are welcome here anytime, little friend!
Hoverflies are important pollinators, but perhaps most importantly, they will eat aphids! We always seem to have problems with aphids in our area, so I love the idea of attracting pollinators that are also natural predators of aphids. The more hoverflies in and around the garden, the better!
You can read more interesting information about attracting hoverflies for aphid control over at the Micro Gardner.
Today’s post is the perfect example of why I continue to garden no matter how successful or unsuccessful my gardening attempts may be. There is always something new to discover! I have learned so much just from stopping to take the time to pick some common “weeds” from my yard and exploring things up close.
I hope this post has inspired you take a second look at fleabane daisies if you have always thought of them as weeds. Not only are they pretty, but they are useful too. You can also stop swatting at those little hoverflies! Let them “bee” and they will bring benefits to your garden. Interested in munching on some wild fleabane? Check out this interesting Ancient Roman Lentils and Chestnuts recipe with fleabane leaves.
Thanks for visiting today, and enjoy the rest of National Garden Week!