Wednesday, 14 June 2017


I think / hope I am a good gardener. It’s in my genes, so I ought to be, but I have one serious failing, and it is that I simply cannot remember the names of plants. And this week it’s been a bit of a problem…

My neighbour, who has a heart condition, has today gone into hospital for a remedial operation. This procedure is usually very successful, but like any other it has its risks. In her case, it is risky not to have the operation, so she has been in that horrible limbo of ‘do I, don’t I?’ for the past two to three weeks.

This last week has been one of ‘getting everything in order’ and making all kinds of arrangements, including for her garden and plants. Two plants had special needs. One, an exotic-looking daisy-like thing, is a gift I brought her back from France to cheer her up. I had no idea of its identity, only thinking it was bright and cheerful and bound to be easy to look after. I had an inkling I had seen one in her garden in previous years, and it turned out that I was right. ‘It’s a Gazania!’ she commented, delighted. I had already re-potted and watered, and it was doing well in my greenhouse. It continued to thrive in her little summer house, and all was well.

A second friend had a similar idea, and soon my gift was sitting beside another, beautiful deep orange… daisy? But then my neighbour asked me to look after both plants while she is in hospital. She didn’t want to leave them inside the summer house because they need watering, but she was loath to leave them outside where the insects and snails might attack them. ‘In your greenhouse…?’ came the request. ‘Of course!’ I replied.

On Monday she brought them round, accompanied by her gardener who was holding one aloft, grinning at me as he followed her towards the greenhouse, almost as if he knew what I’d let myself in for.

Everything was fine until the weather changed. It keeps doing this. One moment it’s raining, gloomy, depressing and November-like; the next we have blazing sun and it’s more like August than June. Which is exactly what happened yesterday! The day dawned like a smile, with no hint of just how hot it might become as the morning sun climbed up in the sky. I opened up the greenhouse, where both plants looked very happy sitting on the bench in the sunshine. I then went out for several hours, returning during the afternoon. 

Calamity! The orange daisies looked terrible, apparently dying of heatstroke. Miraculously the Gazinia was fine – which is lucky, because I can’t possibly replace it with another from France. I whisked the orange daisy out of the greenhouse into some shade and waited for the day to cool down before giving it some water.

Today the temperature is even hotter, but I’ve positioned the orange daisy in a shaded part of the greenhouse and it looks fine. It’s lost a couple of its flowers, but the others have recovered. I decided that I really need to know exactly what the plant is, so that I can investigate its care. A Google ‘image search’ helpfully informed me: ‘best guess for this image: flower’ which is great. But it also showed similar images, so I have managed to identify the plant and now I know that it prefers a shady spot in a greenhouse – which is exactly where I have placed it.

So… fingers crossed for both the plants and more especially for my neighbour. One thing is certain: she will receive far better care than I have so far given the large daisies!

Oh, did you want to know the identity of the orange daisy? Hold on a moment, while I look it up again…