CASA GRANDE

Twenty years ago, Tom Simmons sprinkled a few wild African daisy seeds in the front yard of his home in the 500 block of East Manor Drive.

Today, his Casa Grande neighborhood is blanketed in a sea of orange and yellow blooms.

“I just threw them out there and they grew,” Simmons said. “Every year they come back and there’s more and more.”

Thousands of colorful African daisies sprout and bloom in his front and side yard every year. Over the past two decades, some of the seeds have spread to his neighbors’ yards, thanks to the wind, birds and bees.

Wildflowers cover neighborhood

A bee collects pollen in a wildflower-covered neighborhood Wednesday Feb. 19, 2020 in the 500 block of East Manor Drive.

The flowers are visible to those traveling along Casa Grande Avenue and on East Manor Drive. While Simmons and his neighbor across the street have the most blooms in their yards, other neighbors also have plenty of African daisies in their yards too.

“About four years ago, I gave a handful of seeds to my neighbor across the street so her yard is nice and full of wildflowers. But the daisies in the other yards are all due to nature,” he said.

The neighborhood blooms have become a local attraction. People drive by to look at the flowers, take pictures and ask for seeds to take to their own neighborhoods. Simmons said it’s not uncommon for him to look out his window and see people admiring the flowers.

“It makes me happy that people like the flowers so much,” Simmons said. “I feel like I’m spreading a little bit of joy with these flowers.”

Wildflowers cover neighborhood

Wildflowers cover a neighborhood Wednesday Feb. 19, 2020 in the 500 block of East Manor Drive.

The African daisy is a drought-tolerant perennial that thrives in warm climates with plenty of sun.

Simmons’ flowers tend to emerge in the fall and are usually in full bloom by early February through March.

The flowers produce their seeds at the end of their bloom cycle, usually in late March or April.

Encouraging the flowers to bloom every year doesn’t take much work. Simmons said he leaves much of that to nature.

“When we have a heavy monsoon season, I don’t have to do anything. This year, because we didn’t have a very wet summer, I did come out and water the yard,” he said. “The rain and the sun do most of the work.”

In the fall, a few months before the sprouts emerge, Simmons treats his yard with an herbicide to keep weed growth under control.

The African daisies can be confused for weeds when they sprout.

“When they first start to pop up, they can look like weeds but I can tell the difference,” he said. “The daisies have orange buds.”

Simmons received the seeds from his brother, who also lives in Casa Grande and maintains a wildflower garden in his yard.

He said he wasn’t surprised when they sprouted and did well, but he’s amazed that each year’s bloom is always better than the last.

“I expected them to die off,” he said. “But I get more and more every year. Each flower has hundreds of seeds.”

Wildflowers cover neighborhood

Wildflowers cover a neighborhood Wednesday Feb. 19, 2020 in the 500 block of East Manor Drive.

While the blooms are mostly hues of yellow and orange, occasionally, a few other hues pop up.

“I’ve had white flowers and some other colors, but it’s mostly orange and yellow,” he said.

The sun-loving flowers are best viewed in mid-morning or early afternoon.

And while Simmons is happy to let people look at his flowers, he asks that visitors refrain from picking them or walking on them.

“And please don’t eat the daisies,” he said.

Those who wish to harvest a few seeds from the flowers may do so in April, after the bloom cycle ends.

5
1
1
0
1

Melissa St. Aude is the Arts & Entertainment editor at PinalCentral. She can be reached at mstaude@pinalcentral.com.