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Allan designs and plants flowering gardens in Montreal, Zone 5 [USDA Zone 4] .

See website, design work and favorite flowering plants at  gardengurumontreal.ca

Consultation and coaching for do-it-yourselfers is provided. Occasional emailed questions are welcome and answered free of charge. Oui, je parle francais.

See my work on Pinterest at Garden Guru Montreal

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Friday
Mar112011

King George is a Royal Perennial

http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/showimage/230220/I write about Hemerocallis more than any other perennial. The truth is, I cannot believe that I actually use it in my compositions. If it were possible to hold a strong prejudice against a plant, this is one perennial that I disliked the most. The first turn-off came in my teens, when the ubiquitous orange daylily would decorate the landscape of most of the homes in my town; it was wearisome to look at. Furthermore, orange was never a favorite color. I have worked with it in recent years only because of my clients’ preferences.

Thousands of new cultivars of daylilies have been introduced since I was a teen ager. Most of them were in shades that clashed with the pastel English-style gardens that I enjoy designing. That was the second turn-off. Other new varieties, that  blended in well, bloomed only in shades that appeared diluted or insipid. That was the third turn-off. With time, I discovered soft lemon-yellow varieties that worked well; but that was not enough for me. I was on a hunt for a pink variety that would fit in with the pastel colors of my gardens – a pink that did not have an orange cast about it. That challenge took me on a hunt that lasted several years before I would find the right shade of pink.

When I first began researching this perennial, the one thing that turned me off, and that still annoys me today, is the short bloom season for some of the most beautiful varieties. Some are so breathtaking, that I cannot bear to watch the bloom cycle come to an end. That is why I focus mainly upon those day lilies that are repeat bloomers, extended bloomers, late bloomers, and varieties that bloom, at least, for two months.

http://www.ehow.co.uk/list_7321695_flowers-starLast year, I diverted from that disciplined regiment when I became enchanted with Hemerocallis King George. It is not sold as a repeat bloomer and I doubt it will bloom for more than one month. The technical detail on the tag said “mid-summer blooming” and in my language that means July. And I didn’t go looking for it, either. At the height of its bloom period, it was strategically placed at the front entrance of the nursery to deliberately seduce unsuspecting buyers. It just so happened, that was the day I chose to visit the nursery to pick up plants, to fill in empty spaces in a client’s garden.

What hit me first, when I discovered this majestic perennial, was the gargantuan size of the flower head and its height. The funny thing is that I have been avoiding its color scheme almost forever. But I was smitten. I purchased this plant for my client’s garden because there was a bare, sun-drenched spot that was begging for a dramatic treatment. This variety is considered to be the largest and most dramatic Hemerocallis in garden commerce. The heavily budded bloomer produces flowers that measure 7 inches wide, with stalks that reach 32 to 36 inches in height.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/kittenlovers/873028431/Beyond its large size, what sets this plant apart from others [that are similar looking] is the harmony in the tones of its ruffled yellow petals and the wine [or Indian red] halo. So often, we see yellow-red daylilies in color combinations that are harsh and unpleasant. The wine may be bolder than the yellow or a stringent yellow tone may clash with a harsh wine. Not in this case. The rich yellow, almost gold, is a perfect balance for the warm wine.

Ironically, King George is not a Hemerocallis variety that my supplier stocks regularly. I hope that I can find one for my own garden this coming season. If I cannot, I will have to return to the client’s garden to admire it there. If he allows me, I might dislodge a small bulbette from the root ball to propagate a plant of my own.

Oh, by the way, the images posted here do not flatter this variety, at all. It needs to be seen among other plants in order to be appreciated.

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Reader Comments (7)

Yes, I've also struggled with how to place the colors of daylilies within the traditional pink and blue (-violet) color scheme that I plan for my backyard. I love the peachy-pink daylily shades that I have all around my front garden, but they wouldn't work with magenta or mauve - at least not to my eyes. Like you, I'm considering some soft yellow daylilies to add to the backyard mix, and maybe some of the white ones will be white enough to work? We'll see. BTW, have you checked out Walter's Gardens designer daylilies site? I love mooning over their selections: http://www.growdesignerplants.com/thecollections/229_the-designer-daylily-8482-collection.aspx

March 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterVW

V W,
I love catalog pictures as much as you do but living in Canada makes it impossible for me to purchase from American sources. It would be too heartbreaking to study Walter's catalog and not be able to place an order. However, if I were a plant wholesaler, my government would issue a special dispensation allowing me to import plant material.

March 11, 2011 | Registered CommenterAllan

Allan, like you, as a younger gardener I was not a fan of daylillies. I lived in a big city so all I knew were the roadside varieties. Well, my ideas have changed and daylillies have become a staple in my garden blooming throughout three seasons, who could ask for more!

Eileen

March 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEileen

I have always loved daylilies, and yellow and orange are favorite colors of mine -- so I'm definitely going to put this one on my list of flowers to add to my garden (where I already have about 20 different varieties of yellow daylilies!). This one reminds me a bit of one of my favorites, Alna Pride, which is a much paler yellow.

Allan, in your search for the perfect pink daylily, without any yellow undertone, you might check out 'Singing Sixteen' when it is in bloom at the Montreal Botanical Gardens. Another favorite of mine is an older variety called 'Mae Graham,' which grows clear pink in my garden (although I've seen photos of it on line that look more mauve). I don't know if that one is available anywhere in Canada. -Jean

March 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJean

Jean,
Thanks for the names of the pink Day Lilies. I enjoy the excitement of the hunt.

March 12, 2011 | Registered CommenterAllan

I share your views on daylilies and use a very small number of varieties and species. I discovered Hemerocallis altissima last year; it is over 5' tall with small elegant lemon yellow flowers - excellent rising out of grasses.
If you like the colour scheme of H. 'King George' you should plant the kaufmaniana tulip 'Corona' - large dramatic flowers in March to rise up through the daylilies precocious foliage.

March 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMichael King

Michael,
Thanks for the recommendations. I will be on the look out for them.

March 16, 2011 | Registered CommenterAllan

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