Jennifer Schultz Nelson
Extension Educator, Horticulture
Just when I thought I had seen every Gaillardia there is, I spied 'Fanfare' in a woman's cart at a local garden center. I had seen 'Fanfare' in a couple of presentations last winter, but the pictures were the glossy marketing pictures common to the introduction of a new cultivar.
Sometimes a flower will look a lot different than the advertisement, but 'Fanfare' was just as striking in person, if not more so than the picture. The woman probably thought I was crazy, but I told her where I worked and asked if she minded if I snapped a picture.
'Fanfare' has all the bright dazzling color of other Gaillardias, but the unique feature is the petal shape. Each bright orange petal is fused into a cone shape tipped with brilliant yellow and flared at the end, resembling a tiny trumpet.
Although it only achieves a height of twelve to sixteen inches and a spread of twelve to eighteen inches, 'Fanfare' makes an excellent cut flower. It will tolerate just about any soil condition, and prefers full sun, making it an easy perennial for beginners.
If you have trouble with deer and rabbits eating their way through your garden, 'Fanfare' is resistant to both these critters. But the gorgeous flowers attract both butterflies and hummingbirds, which most people would consider a plus.
Having a background in plant breeding, I am always interested in how new cultivars are developed. As with many new flower cultivars, 'Fanfare' was an accidental mutation, or "sport" among other Gaillardias. The person who noted the unique flower shape was not a plant breeder, but a garden center owner in England.
He saw the potential for the unique petal form and patented the new cultivar he named 'Fanfare'. Without a doubt 'Fanfare' is very popular here–I went back to find some plants of my own after taking a picture of the one in the stranger's cart, only to find she had bought the last ones! Maybe next year.....