Where innocent bright-eyed daisies are, With blades of grass between, Each daisy stands up like a star Out of a sky of green.When some of the old poets wrote about the “snows of June,” they were talking botany rather than weather. Most specifically, they were describing vast fields whitened with the blooms of the ox-eye daisy. For this reason it was often called simply “whiteweed.” The ox-eye daisy, Leucanthemum vulgare, is a member of the Aster family introduced by the colonists from Europe. It’s sometimes called the Marguerite Daisy, from the female character in Johann Goethe’s drama Faust, who plucked the petals from a daisy while she sang the refrain, “He loves me, he loves me not…” Hereabouts, ox-eye daisies begin blooming early—in mid-May—and continue into early-autumn, though their peak is over by the end of June. They’re also quite pretty. The flowers are about two inches across, with about 20 snow-white petals and a bright yellow center. Some of my plants are three-feet tall—or at least they were until the most recent downpour, night-before-last, beat them to their knees. Ox-eye daisies were absent around the cottage until last year, when a small clump appeared beside the stone steps which lead from the yard down to the river’s edge. This spring, it’s still just the single patch—though the clump has expanded in size fourfold. The plants expand via their root system and also self-seed. And it’s this ready inclination for spreading that causes some to classify the ox-eye daisy as invasive. However, this disfavor may not be quite as appropriate as it once was, especially east of the Rockies. Our landscape has changed dramatically with time. Yesterday’s farms and fields are now shopping centers and subdivisions. The ox-eye daisy is not near the agricultural threat it once was. In fact, in many areas ox-eye daisies have all but disappeared—and you’ll have to look long and hard to find a stand of daisies vast enough to be mistaken as one of those poetic “June snows.” One the other hand, one man’s noxious weed is often another fellow’s wildflower. For the past few days I’ve been collecting a supply of the tiny seeds to plant in selected sites. I won’t see blooms from my efforts next year, but with luck, the following spring I ought to have white-and-yellow flowers in a number of additional daisy patches brightening up several darker corners. After all, I can’t expect nature and the river to do all the landscaping work for me.
—Christina Georgina Rossetti
* * * * *[Dear long-suffering followers and readers: You’ll note that “Riverdaze…” has had another design change—the second in less than a week. And I hope the last one for at least a while. The overhaul I applied earlier made it difficult for some readers to see various parts of the blog and particularly the comments links and profiles due to lack of contrast. For whatever reasons, these difficulties were not universal, or visible to me, and only seemed to arise when you viewed to the blog after arriving here via a particular link route. Still, my original intention was to improve things, not make them worse. I actually like this layout and color scheme even better because it’s simpler, cleaner design-wise, than the previous incarnation. And with luck, it will work for everyone. But if you have problems (gulp!) let me know…]