Praise the daisy; in July it is the blackeyed susan, a true sun flower. Accept no imitations.
The daisy family is a dilly, embracing asters to zinnias, dahlias to dandelions. It's a great happy botanical family.
The blackeyed susan is the basic daisy -- a reliable perennial, one of the immortals. It is what children paint when doing a flower or the sun. The center is a furry button, purple-black; the petals are deep yellow and infinitely symmetrical. The stems are long and the foliage is inconsequential. All summer long, until frost, the plant keeps budding and blooming, and scores of seeds scatter from each withered center.
In the bricked back yards of Georgetown and the pruned gardens of Rockville, a clump of blackeyed susan stands for rolling fields and endless pastures -- the green hinterland. The plant is shaped like a country bouquet; it has the scent of haystacks. In its simplest form -- 12 petals around a center the size of a half-dollar -- it is the next thing to a weed. At best, it is a commonplace.
The hybrid that sells under the name of Gloriosa Daisy has twice as many petals as well as mahogany stipples issuing from the center -- a design that is always concentric. I have one plant with petals mostly bronze that comes up looking darker every year; another is speckled with chocolate brown. My hedge of blackeyed susans fronts the street, making, at dusk, a luminous border. Amazing daisy, banish our boredom. Help us cherish the everyday.