Senecio – Popular Shrubs for the Garden
There are not many daisy-flowered shrubs available for the garden and this genus includes 1,300 species, very few of garden value. The senecio usually grown in gardens, referred to as either Senecio greyi or Senecio laxifolius, is probably neither of these species, but a hybrid. It attracts attention not only because of its bright yellow daisies, but also because of the silvery grey appearance of its young leaves, which makes them look as though they are covered with felt. In older leaves the greyness is confined to the edges. Underneath the leaves are white.
Fine specimens of this plant, up to 3-4 feet tall, are to be seen in gardens near the sea round most of the coast, for this shrub will tolerate well the wind and salt sea spray. However, it grows well inland, provided it can be given a fairly sheltered position in full sunlight. It is also a useful plant for the chalk garden.
Gardeners who plant mainly for the foliage effect often remove the flower-heads before they open to preserve the grey-white appearance of the plant, but most people generally prefer to let the handsome yellow daisies develop fully. Little is needed, although after severe winters there may be a fair amount of dead growth to be cut away.
There are many other senecios available, although they are not often seen. Senecio compactus is very much like the plant that has been described above, except that it does not exceed 3 feet in height and is usually considerably less, and both its leaves andare smaller.
Senecio elaeagnifolius grows to about 4 feet in height and is much denser and more stiff in habit. Both this and the taller Senecio hectori, which has white centres and white petals to the flowers, are really only suitable for seaside planting in milder areas such as the south-west and the west of Britain.