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Entries in Day Lily (4)


Hemerocallis Prairie Blue Eyes

When I first saw the ad for a blue-ish looking day lily in a mail order catalogue, I could feel the acceleration of my heartbeat. At first, I was excited to stumble upon a cold-colored day lily. Then I became even more excited, this time with indignation, at the high retail price tag attached to it. At the time, I had not yet seen Hemerocallis Prairie Blue Eyes offered by any of my better-priced suppliers. Fearing that I might never stumble across it again, as often happens with unusual day lily varieties, I decided to splurge and placed my order at full price.  Another two years would have to pass before this variety would become available from local, more affordable, growers.

Like all other daylily fans that I received by mail, this one required three years of growth before it bloomed impressively. When it did, I was more than pleased. Although it did not bloom in the pure lavende-blue shade that I saw in the catalogue, [I never believed that a real day lily could be that blue, anyway] it did flower in a shade of lilac - blue, with an overcast of subtle pink. Those tones allowed it to blend in successfully with the palette of my English-spirit garden. However, as a dwarf variety, it showed best in the front row of the border.

Directly above is a photo of how the unnaturally-colored day lily appeared in the mail order catalogue. It was too blue to be true.

Now look at the above photo taken with my camera. Its automatic setting captured the flower with an intense pink cast that the naked eye cannot see. In the mid-day light of the real world, the pink is more subtle while the lilac - blue is more dominant.

This beautifully shaded day lily answers the prayers of English-style perennial gardeners who prefer hemerocallis that bloom in cool colors. Wouldn’t it be great if breeders developed a similarly colored variety that bloomed longer, or taller, or perhaps even later?


King George is a Royal Perennial 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. 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. 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.


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.


When in Doubt, Plant a Day Lily.

The above photo captures a perennial composition nestled between two slanted trees. Assorted varieties of Hemerocallis in shades of yellow, orange and red were selected for this planting. The arching growing habit of day lily leaves echoes the slant of the trees and the colors of the flowers illuminate a dark area of the garden. This location gets full morning sun but only part shade in the afternoon.

Hemerocallis were also used on this same property to punctuate empty spots that popped up all over the terrain. No matter where our gaze landed, we would find a day lily tucked in to the landscape to improve the view. This underscores the versatility of this perennial as an all purpose plant.

Wise gardeners will do their utmost to select unusual cultivars of day lilies to avoid the monotony of the orange tiger lily, although that is the only variety that will bloom for most of the summer. Consider selecting several varieties that bloom in each growing period, in an assortment of contrasting or blending colors so that one may enjoy a powerful display of color during June, July and August and sometimes September.

The day lily begins its showy blooming when many other perennials are beginning to wane. Their vivid coloration distracts from any unattractive areas of a property. They draw the eye towards them and away from everything else. Some designing tips about gardening with day lilies include combining them with ornamental grasses. The arching shape of their foliage works well with the fountain shapes of the grass. Another recommendation is to plant the same cultivar of day lily in several different locations in the garden. This helps to pull the garden design together. Repeated clumps of one kind of any plant makes a garden look unified and well designed.