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Entries in day lilies (9)

Monday
Jan092012

Are You a Collector of Day Lilies or Do You Grow Them for Pleasure?

H. Angels Gather Round, (Smth 08 ) Tetraploid, Evergreen, Mid Season bloomer, 30 inch scapes, flowers 5.5 inches diameter, smooth peachy-pink self and green throat with ruffled iceberg lettuce-green edge. Image:-daylilyfans.comThe new day lily mail order catalog that arrived this week contains more technical information than I will ever require. Based upon the list of newly introduced varieties, and by paying attention to the details that accompany each plant, one comes to realize that day lily growers target several kinds of gardeners.

First is the nursery owner who is prepared to nurture a plant until it matures to make an impressive display, second is the gardener wishing to add a very specific perennial to the flowerbed, and third is the collector.

Acquiring new and unusual varieties of day lilies is a serious hobby similar to collecting orchids or antiques. It differs from conventional gardening in many respects because it places greater emphasis on the thrill of the hunt for the rare and the unknown, the excitement of discovery, the satisfaction of exclusive ownership, the pleasure of the new and different, an eternal sense of incompleteness - because collecting never ends, and the now-rarely observed trait of one-upmanship.

Collectors also assign a higher market value to desirable plants than traditional gardeners do. Such plants might be difficult to propagate, they may differ dramatically from previously introduced cultivars, or they may combine, in one plant, superlatives of all of the desired traits of the species.

H. Stella d'Oro, (Jablonski '75), diploid, Dormant foliage, Early-Medium-Late bloomer, scapes are 17 inches high, blooms are 3.5 inches diameter, Repeat [continuous] bloomer, gold-yellow trumpets, compact habit. Images:-http://sunnyside-gardens.com/plants/perennials/page/12/One only has to study the cost of the unusual cultivars to realize that the traditional gardener is not the intended market for many of the newly introduced plants. The prices confirm that collectors are prepared to pay a premium for one that is out of the ordinary. For example, in the above-mentioned catalog, the supplier charges only $4.00 for a clump of several fans of H. Stella d’Oro, but quotes $75 for a single fan of H. Angels Gather Round. I have seen Angels listed as high as $125 from other sources.

While some weekend gardeners may select a day lily based upon a few details such as color and price, here are some of the characteristics that collectors consider when choosing a new cultivar:

Number of Chromosomes  Tetraploid plants have twenty-two pairs of chromosomes while diploids have only eleven.

A.H.S.  Some cultivars are registered with the American Hemerocallis Society, while others are not. For some collectors, registration is important.

 Foliage   A plant may be classified as evergreen, semi-evergreen, or dormant. This designation refers to the hardiness of a plant in colder climates and the sustainability of foliage in warmer areas. Dormant varieties are the hardiest and evergreens may require mulch where winters are severe.

 Bloom Time   In my growing zone of USDA 4, early varieties (E) bloom from June to beginning of July, mid-season plants (M) bloom from mid-July to mid-August, and late varieties (L) bloom in August and September.

 Double   This adjective describes a variety with a higher number of flower petals than others have. Some double blooms will resemble miniature old roses or tiny azaleas.

High Bud Count Some cultivars have a greater number of buds per scape than others. [A scape is a stalk that shoots up from within the clump of leaves and holds the flower buds at its top.] This designation indicates the intensity of the color output (multiple blooms per day) during a plant's bloom period. Because beauty is subjective, a high bud count is no guarantee that a day lily will be appreciated. The gardener must first be attracted to the flower’s overall appearance for the high bud count to have any value.

Reblooming  A variety that will send up new scapes after its first blooming period

Repeat Blooms A variety that sends up new scapes continuously beyond its first blooming period. When designing flowerbeds, most of my focus is on this group of day lilies. If the color is suitable for the composition, it is sheer pleasure having a plant that sustains flowers over an extended period.

Sculpting  A variety with petals that are pleated or covered with relief either at the base of the petals or anywhere on the petals’ surface. One can appreciate this feature when the lily grows at close proximity. From a distance, this characteristic is hardly noticeable.

Spider A variety with long, thin petals – like skinny pinwheels - with a ratio of at least 4:1, that is, the petals are at least 4 times longer than they are wide. Flowers in this group lack the velvety beauty of traditional day lilies and do not project from afar as powerfully as the trumpet varieties do. Spiders compensate for their scraggliness with bold colors, long bloom periods, and tall scapes.

Unusual Form  A variety, usually Spider, whose thin petals are spatula-shaped, or pinched, or twisted, or cascading, or crispate.

Collectors are also interested in knowing if a day lily is very fragrant, if it will bloom in the early morning, if it remains open late into the evening, the name of the hybridizer, the year the plant was registered, the height of the scape, and the diameter of the flower.

 A large day lily flower is a beautiful sight and tall lilies that loom and bloom over other perennials can be very effective in the perennial flowerbed.

Saturday
Nov262011

Chance Encounter with Anonymous Day Lilies

During the third week of July of every summer, my wife and I reunite with our children at a lake in Upstate New York.

The cottages we use are the summer residences of people who live elsewhere, and who are happy to rent out their homes, in order to offset the high cost of taxes on lakefront property.

Most buildings in the Adirondack Mountains tend to have modest exteriors, to avoid competing with the majesty of the surrounding vistas.

Occasionally, some homeowners will add a touch of color to their properties by planting day lilies that bloom at the height of the rental season. In the growing zone of the Adirondack Mountains, Hemerocallis are among the most reliable perennials one can plant.

The images posted here are of flowers discovered around our cottages, this past summer. With the owners off site, there was no opportunity to learn the names of these plant varieties. How fascinating that my eye was drawn to them, even though I avoided choosing such colors for my garden at home.

Warm and hot shades are difficult to integrate into my flowerbeds. Yet, they seem so attractive in this rustic setting. Next season I will risk breaking my color rules. Perhaps it’s time to experiment with a few similar varieties in my own garden, simply because they are beautiful.

Thursday
Aug252011

Hemerocallis Autumn Minaret

Three years ago, I ordered a large assortment of hemerocallis for my test garden. I needed to determine if the ones offered as “pink” and “peach” would successfully blend into the English style gardening idiom. In addition, I selected several unusual varieties that caught my eye, even though they were neither peach nor pink.  

All of the plants were booked with mail order growers, who shipped  bare-root plants, wrapped in shredded paper. By the time they arrived, the moist newsprint had dried and the fans were in the initial stages of dehydration. Although I followed the growers’ instructions and soaked them in water before planting, they still took longer to become established, as compared to the nursery-bought potted ones. This season, three years after planting, the fans finally blossomed, making it possible for me to evaluate their color.

The first five varieties that bloomed in early July became immediate casualties of my strict color criteria. The catalogue had described them as being either “pink” or “peach” and the accompanying photos were convincing. Much to my disappointment, they blossomed in various shades of pure orange. I dug them up as soon as they flowered and gave them to less finicky gardener friends who are not put off by orange day lilies. However, I kept those that bloomed in tropical or iridescent shades of orange because I am certain that, when properly combined with other perennials, they will become traffic stoppers.

Other varieties that I ordered flowered with stripes, brushstrokes, or soft blotches of blending shades, tones, and hues of peaches, pinks, light oranges, bronzes, and mellow-yellows. They actually resembled their catalog photos and survived the cut because they were attractive. After all, selecting a plant for a flowerbed should not be only about color; visual interest is equally important.

When they first opened, many of these surprisingly attractive day lilies required transplanting because their colors did not suit their location. Since I grow too many hemerocallis varieties to remember all of their names, descriptions, and planting spots, it was imperative to move them while they were still in bloom. That way, I was able to see exactly how they would combine with other perennials that bloom at the same time. Because I cavalierly moved them around to suit my creative whims, most went into shock and lost all of their blooms overnight. Who else but this obsessive gardener would have dared transplant flowering day lilies in the searing heat of July? 

 Autumn Minaret is one hemerocallis variety that was spared the trauma of lifting and moving because its coloration turned out to be neither offensive nor impressive. Viewed from a distance, as are all flowers in my garden, it appeared to be just there, as the colloquial phrase is used. In truth, I am unable to appreciate this variety for a very unusual reason. In the morning, before I head out to visit a client, its trumpet are not completely open. When I return in the late afternoon, the trumpets have turned westward to follow the moving sun. All I see is the backside of a flower.

The back lit close up of the petals of Autumn Minaret was achieved by climbing into the flowerbed; not an easy task, considering how congested the test garden can be at this time of year.

I believe that its appearance will improve when transplanted up against a southern-facing brown fence, in another part of the garden. I expect that a brown background will enrich the golden/orange tones of its petals while the southern exposure will allow me to see the trumpets all day long.

Tall plants, even when they are not elegant, add critical verticality to a garden’s design. The appearance of this variety is less than majestic because its petals are slim. Unlike the broad and velvety petals of other day lilies, those of Autumn Minaret are almost spider-like. Consequently, the density of flowers that open at any one time appears sparse. Nevertheless, this plant is a keeper. In spite of the fact that its colors are tepid from afar and that its form is not substantial, this day lily merits serious consideration. First, it is a very-late blooming variety; here in USDA Zone 4b, one can never have enough perennials blooming in early autumn. Second, it is a very tall plant. In its first flowering season, it grew to a height of five feet and some gardeners report that it reaches six feet tall. For a day lily, that’s impressive! 

Friday
Jul292011

Hemerocallis Flava: an Origami-like Perennial

Was that a giant yellow humming bird growing in my garden bed? No, It was a single bloom of Hemerocallis Flava, atop a day lily clump that I propagated the year before. The original plant, an exquisite lemon-yellow flower of unusual form, appeared bird-like from a distance. I was so smitten with its origami likeness that I decided to repeat plant another two fans of this variety in the flower bed.

The lone bloom, that appeared earlier than flowers on its two sister plants, loomed over the garden at just under four feet, even though the plant tag stated that it would reach only 32 inches in height. A few days later, the buds on the other clumps flowered, creating a tall, rhythmic repetition of yellow. With so many scapes blooming at the same time, the outline of the humming bird disappeared. Now the clusters of blooms reminded me of Bird of Paradise flowers, but in lemon-yellow rather than orange-purple.

The arrival of these yellow bird-like blooms could not have come at a more welcome time. By now, most of the late spring and early summer perennials have completed their flowering cycle, while mid to late summer plants are not quite ready to open. After all, this is Zone 4 where everything blooms later. The only companion plants flowering in tandem were shorter yellow cultivars of Hemerocallis Stella Supreme and Happy Returns. As I had ensured to have at least three each of these yellow varieties growing in the garden, the differences in the heights of all three cultivars, combined with their multiple numbers, created an impressive, recurring lemon - yellow day lily theme in the flower bed.

Also known as Hemerocallis lilioasphodelus,  the three characteristics that set Flava apart from most other day lilies are:-  the bird-like form of its flowers [noticeable only when a single bud is in bloom], its height - it towers majestically over other plants, and the powerful projection of its color. Although it is known to be fragrant, I have not yet experienced its aroma.

Friday
Dec102010

Did Your Day Lily Bloom in Orange Instead of Pink?

A garden blogger recently reported how disappointed she was to discover that a day lily, from a mail order supplier, bloomed in a color that did not resemble its catalogue picture. She had ordered pink and it bloomed in light orange. I understand how she felt. It has happened to me several times.

It is a well documented fact that pink is one of the most popular garden colors. To encourage sales of a not-quite-pink plant, catalogue vendors sometimes tweak the natural color, which is closer to peach or orange, so that it appears pinker in print. While this trickery is not acceptable to gardeners, it has been standard practice among many mail order merchants, especially when they market Hemerocallis. To avoid being accused of false representation, some vendors now only sell daylilies in distinct colors that are difficult to misrepresent, intentionally or otherwise.

The question remains, how does one photograph a peach or orange plant so that it appears pinker in print? Is a blue filter used on the lens? Is the picture doctored in a software program? Whatever the explanation, it is frustrating and disappointing to discover that a perennial, delivered and planted last season, is blooming a year later in an undesired color.

Here is a solution that I have found to be helpful: - I no longer buy pink Hemerocallis from mail order firms or on line catalogue sellers. I give my business to growers with web sites, who post mostly accurate photos of their plants. After choosing a day lily, and before placing an order, I surf the net to see how other sellers have photographed it. If the color from several sources is close to the shade that my designated supplier has posted, then I am certain that the desired plant will flower as shown. If there are serious color discrepancies, from one site to another, I will refrain from buying that variety - unless I know that I will be happy with any of the shades. No grower has ever disappointed me. As a matter of fact, one supplier sometimes displays two images of the same plant, from two different photographers, whenever he feels that one image alone does not do justice to plant’s color.

Here are two images for Hemerocallis Pink Damask.

 

 

 

Notice the variation in colors from one image to the next. This is not a variety that a gardener can safely order unless it has already been observed in bloom.

 

 

Here are four images of  Hemerocallis, Over the Top.

 

 

 

 

Five sellers have described it as pink, neon pink, red, dark pink, and deep pink.

 

 

 

Can anyone be certain of its true color before ordering?

 

 

 

 

Unless the gardener has already seen it in bloom, which is unlikely because it is hard to find, one will have to plant it first to discover its actual color.

 

 

 

In an ideal world, it would be advantageous to spend some time in a grower’s field when each day lily is in bloom to examine its true color; but that is an unrealistic investment of time. On one hand, different varieties have different bloom periods so that several visits would be necessary. On the other hand, most of us do not live within driving distance of a grower. Even by visiting a retail nursery, there is no guarantee of finding exactly what one is searching for. No nursery can stock every day lily that has ever been bred - the numbers must be in the hundreds of thousands - and no vendor can predict which colors customers might want. That is why nurseries prefer to stock only those varieties that have done well for them in the past.

It is only collectors of day lilies and picky garden designers like me who want very specific colors in very exacting shades. We are the ones that hunt for varieties that match the ideas in our imagination. Fortunately, there are growers who understand our needs and give us exactly what we want.