The English daisy or dog daisy(Bellis perennis)is thought to be a symbol of childhood innocence and joy and loyal love. For many hundreds of years a common pasttime for children was and is making 'daisy chains' for garlands.
The flower has been treasured for almost 5,000 years.
Daisies are a member of the Aster family and are hardy perennials. They get their name from the old Anglo-Saxon language "daes eage" which means "day's eye".
This refers to the way the flowers open as the sun comes up and close when it goes down again - all part of their charm.
Daisies flower from spring to autumn. English daisies are white or off-white and can have slightly pink petals. They have a cheerful yellow middle - and the petals can be pulled off one by one to see whether your lover will be true to you. "He loves me, he loves me not".
Daisies spread into large clumps; farmers felt that spring was not fully here until they could step on 12 daisies with one step and that summer was here when you could stand on seven daisy flowers at once!
They have been used as medicine to help with eye problems and to darken hair . Daisies in wine were drunk to help with mental problems, and King Henry VIII ate daisies to help with stomach problems.
They are very easy to grow and reach from 3 to 6 inches ( 8 - 15cm) tall and will grow in sun or shade - although they don't like it too hot - so if your summers are hot and dry plant them in the shade and water regularly.
Propagate by division in spring or sow seeds in spring or late autumn. Picking the flowerheads off as they fade will prolong the flowering season.
They look good when used as edging for paths or borders. They look good planted with pansies or violets. You could try growing late flowering tulips through a group of them. They also look good planted in containers.
Bellis perennis Alba Plena is a double daisy with pure white petals - Alice and Rob Roy both date from the eighteenth century.
A good book to browse for plants for an English Cottage Garden is one by Geoff Hamilton - a much loved TV Garden presenter. He built three different gardens to suit varying budgets and describes the best way to achieve a rustic romantic look for your garden. A lovely read on a winter's evening and very practical too. Lots of advice on how to build arches and bowers and what to plant around them.
Enjoy your garden!