Sometimes nature needs a small helping hand and getting these New Zealand mountain daisies to grow in humid and mild coastal conditions is one such case. These are celmisias and to get them to survive here, we have had to cross two species. That gives hybrid vigour to the offspring and means they don’t die out in the first summer though it has to be admitted that they are still not long lived here and often die out by the fifth or sixth summer. It is perhaps easier to understand when you consider that one of the parents is Celmisia coriacea which is common in Fiordland and also found around Mount Cook in the scrub above the bush line and into the alpine meadows. It is coriacea which brings the lovely silver leaves which are so desirable.
The other parent is Celmisia hookeri which is an Otago species, found from coastal to montane areas so it has more tolerance of lowland conditions. Its foliage is greener rather than grey but it brings more vigour. Why do we bother? Because they are lovely daisies which mass flower in spring for us and look good all year round with rosettes of slightly furry silver foliage. We like to integrate out unique native flora with other plants and it is particularly satisfying to see the celmisias growing beneath our rimu trees.
First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.