Day’s Eyes

DAISY, COMMON, or DAY’S EYE (Bellis perennis). These large white gawky-looking flowers are so universal in English pastures and meadows, that description is almost needless. They flower all the year, principally dotting the meadows in early May. . . Domestic cattle rarely touch this plant. Notwithstanding its beauty and its celebration by poets, the daisy is thought a blemish or intruder in neat grass-plats, and can be overcome by perpetual stubbing only.

Thus the entry for DAISY in the American Farmers’ Encyclopaedia (1858). ‘Gawky-looking’ indeed! The author must have had in mind the tall daisies we call Ox-Eyes, which are now in their glorious prime in every grassy place where they can find a foothold (or roothold). The effect of their bright, white, sun-eyed flowerheads nodding on tall stems above the other flowers is cheery and, yes, beautiful – more graceful than gawky. And with the extraordinary dry sunny weather we’ve been having in the Southeast, the Ox-Eyes have been having  a great year.

During the working week, I see nothing of the countryside except the semi-urban edgelands, the best of which are to be seen passing the windows of my commuter train – the banks and strips of grassland that line the railway. I can’t remember them ever looking better than they have done this spring/summer, with Ox-Eyes rising over tall, seeding grass, Buttercups and lowlier Daisies, Ragwort and Campion (white and red), against a background of Bramble (already flowering), wild Roses, Elders in full creamy blossom, Locust trees hung with bloom, and Lindens with their hanging flowerheads soon to open.  And those places where the Ox-Eye doesn’t show are dominated by Queen Anne Lace, also in the prime of its beauty…

The dryness has kept grass growth down everywhere (including lawns – hurrah!), allowing the flowers to thrive and show to best advantage. In places, indeed, the shorter grass has the pale scorched look of high summer – this really is a drought – but happily there has been enough rain to keep the leaves of the trees gloriously green. And all this beauty rushes past the windows of our commuter trains, uncelebrated – like the ‘gawky’ daisy.

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About Author Profile: Nige

Cravat-Wearer of the Year Nige, who, like Mr Kenneth Horne, prefers to remain anonymous, is a founder blogger of The Dabbler and has been a co-blogger on the Bryan Appleyard Thought Experiments blog. He is the sole blogger on Nigeness, and (for now) a wholly owned subsidiary of NigeCorp. His principal aim is to share various of life's pleasures.

12 thoughts on “Day’s Eyes

  1. Brit
    May 23, 2011 at 14:04

    Where do you stand on dandelions?

    (By which i mean: friend or foe; not, whereabouts do you go in order to physically stand on top of dandelions)

  2. Brit
    May 23, 2011 at 14:05

    By the way. Kim Jong-il followed by daisies.

    Nobody can say we don’t give you variety on The Dabbler.

  3. Worm
    May 23, 2011 at 14:06

    funny, I’d just noticed all the ox-eyes on my way into work this morning! Never heard cow parsley referred to as Queen Anne Lace before – but it does seem most apt, rather more so than the name ‘Mother’s-die’ that it’s also called, as apparently picking it would curse your mother to a grisly end…

    May 23, 2011 at 15:15

    Dandelions, dandelions – I think I’m too profoundly conflicted to come to any kind of conclusion about dandelions, Brit…
    Queen Anne’s Lace is good enough for Larkin (lost lanes of Queen Anne’s Lace) so it’ll do me, Worm – it does deserve something better than Cow Parsley – let alone Mothers-Die!

    Sophie King
    May 23, 2011 at 16:03

    Brit, dandelions are definitely friends here in the Fens. They are being a bit feeble because of the drought but as soon as the new leaves are a reasonable size I pick them, bag ’em up and keep in the fridge – not for human consumption but for the guinea pigs.

    The verges of the main road to the motorway are already full of poppies which I always think of as a June flower. Very pretty with the ox-eyes.

    May 23, 2011 at 16:22

    Oh yes – the guinea pigs just love them don’t they? And apparently the young leaves are OK in a salad. No signs of feebleness down my way Sophie – my lawn consists of little but dandelions – I really should get a guinea pig…
    Thanks Gaw – amazingly I’d remembered both those posts – must have more brain cells left than I thought…

      Sophie King
      May 23, 2011 at 16:37

      I have tried a little nibble but just couldn’t work myself into the required frenzy of shrill excitement exhibited by Olga and Sooty.

    May 23, 2011 at 17:10

    Gorgeously gawky, Nige. This year daisy chain lookalike jewellery is doing the rounds – I wonder if making real daisy chains is still popular with children today (or banned for health and safety reasons). Found this curious daisy gem online…

    May 23, 2011 at 17:40

    Curious indeed – what a strange sound. So that was why Hal sang Daisy in 2001…
    Dandelion chains seem to be the thing now – I’ve seen several children/parents making them, at great risk to their health and safety.

    May 23, 2011 at 19:01

    And Zephyrus and Flora gently

    Gave to the flowers, soft and tenderly,

    Sweet breath, opening their leaves indeed,

    As god and goddess of the flowery mead;

    In which I thought I might, day by day,

    Ever dwell, in the jolly month of May,

    Without sleep, without meat or drink.

    Down full softly I began to sink;

    And leaning on my elbow and my side,

    There the long day planned I to abide,

    For no reason else, no lie you see,

    Than there to look upon the daisy,

    That for good reason men do name

    The ‘day’s-eye’ or else the ‘eye of day,’

    The Empress, and flower of flowers all.

    I pray to God good may her befall,


    May 24, 2011 at 18:50

    Oh thank you Rosie – just found that. Lovely!

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