Can I tell you about a plant that has gorgeous foliage and flowers, is a natural insect repellent, is terrific in cuttings and vases, dries beautifully, is super prolific, and likes to be ignored?
Here in the Adirondacks, we get a lot of those gorgeous flowers that grow wild in Great Britain. The sort of thing you see English hillsides covered with. Tansy.
We inherited a small field of it that I’ve been cultivating – mowing it back to the ground where I don’t want it, and encouraging it with fertilizer where I do want it. I left most of it, just really tightening up the beds and making some space for a path to our neighbor friend’s place.
Tansy is cold and drought tolerant, and comes back every year thicker than ever, masses of those little yellow button flowers that I like so much. It blooms in August, although I like it in Spring and earlier Summer as well – the foliage looks like big ferns. It’s part of the thistle family. By late Summer, my Tansy patch has grown to about four feet. Only thing they are picky about is this – Full Sun. They don’t like shade.
In addition to its visual properties, gardeners often plant Tansy with other plants as a natural insect repellent. (Great idea for the back row of a flower garden!) The leaves give off a smelly, pungent odor that the bugs don’t like. As for it’s other properties as an herb – stay away. The oil was once used in medicines, but today it’s considered poisonous.
Tansy plants are grown from seeds in the spring, or from a cutting from an established plant. If you’re in my area, don’t bother with the seeds. Just holler at me, and come on over to get a shovel full. If you’re dividing your own Tansy, that’s best done in the Fall. A shot of the thick, pretty foliage is left.
And that’s what I know about that. Go, Tansy!