what Dustin Gimbel does with gazanias

The humble gazania, that kaleidoscopic daisy from South Africa overused in years past as the go-to municipal ground cover, is undergoing a minor local revival. I included a few for this summer in my full-sun back garden, the LA Times did a brief writeup on them, and Los Angeles-based garden designer Dustin Gimbel designed an industrial business park frontage around their free-spirited contributions to the horizontal plane. Three examples hardly make a trend, but I think we’re all tapping into a retro-daisy zeitgeist. LA’s once ubiquitous, overplanted “freeway daisies” are sexy again. A tough, waterwise, vibrant daisy gets a new look when joined by a few well-chosen succulents and really brightens up a business park.

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Above photos by MB Maher

In Dustin’s gazania revival, he includes agaves like ‘Blue Glow,’ Aeonium ‘Schwarzkopf,’ Euphorbia tirucalli, and a stunning pouf of a euphorbia that breaks up and redirects the gazania’s silvery leaves like boulders in a river, Euphorbia mauritanica.

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I carefully stepped into the plantings, almost in full shade from the building by mid-afternoon, to catch the wave of silver as it undulates, pools, and swirls around the succulents.

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And to get a closer look at South Africaner Euphorbia mauritanica, also known as the Pencil Milkbush. Dustin describes this shrubby euphorb as “cushiony, noodle-y goodness.” I so agree.

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As seen on the far right, Euphorbia mauritanica is just beginning to bloom in typical euphorb, acid-yellow style. Dustin also planted a few young Acacia stenophylla trees in this large industrial park rectangle, which measures approximately 12 feet wide by at least three times that in length, and the design can be easily tweaked over time to accommodate the growth of the trees.

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Dustin shows how gazanias, when treated with invention and respect, don’t just cover the ground but make it memorable.

For similar plantings, that other multi-colored, tough daisy with silvery leaves, arctotis, has been stealing gazania’s thunder lately, but arctotis quickly builds up and sprawls into a taller, bulkier plant. For a low, horizontal effect, gazania is the one. Perennial and evergreen here in zone 10, grown as annuals in colder zones. Choose the silver-leaved varieties, not the green-leaved, to get that glaucous base coat for other colors and shapes to play against. Some species of gazania, like G. linearis, have shown moderate potential for invasiveness and should not be planted close to wilderness areas.

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9 Responses to what Dustin Gimbel does with gazanias

  1. Sue T says:

    Amazing plants! They endure such abuse in my garden, yet keep on blooming!

  2. Excuse me while I pick my jaw up off the floor. THIS is how these cool little daisies look when planted en masse?! (Instead of the way I plant them in little clusters.) I’m SO down with this, this summer!

  3. Scott says:

    OMG…that dusky pink paired with the silver foliage is a knockout…love it!

  4. Hoov says:

    That looks lovely. He did a great job!

  5. Les says:

    I am not normally a pink person, but that is a nice combo. Gazanias were one of the first things I grew as I was getting the gardening bug. They did fine until we had a series of tropical rainstorms.

  6. Pam/Digging says:

    Well, that’s certainly stunning. The silver-leaved, yellow-flowering gazania is a perennial here in Austin’s 8b. It can get hurt by unusually cold winters, but most years it comes through just fine. The heat or cold must stunt it though. It never fills out as full and lush as your pictures illustrate for lucky California gardeners.

  7. What a stunning display. I love it especially with the purple Aeonium. And what’s not to love about that noodly Euphorbia? Your posts make me wish for global warming.

  8. Denise says:

    Les, I’m not a pink person either but am color-blind to good plants, for the most part.
    Pam, yes, that yellow gazania is planted local too. And remember, it’s still spring here. Plants looking stressed in summer doesn’t just happen in Austin 😉
    Grace, be careful what you wish for…

  9. Kaveh says:

    I’m not normally a fan of any of those African daisies for small garden or home landscaping. They are such highway plants to me. But lately I have been wanting to use Arctotis in some designs. Especially in otherwise difficult areas. This is a great use of the Gazanias. Particularly love the Euphorbia mauritanica. I have mine circled with spring annuals.

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