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

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Entries in hemerocallis (19)

Wednesday
Feb082012

Hemerocallis Sticker Shock; Eye-catching, Expensive Daylilies 

Every season, in early January, the daylily catalogues arrive like precise clockwork. I am deliberating whether or not I will order more fans this year for a garden that cries out enough hemerocallis already! Being the undisciplined plant collector that I am, it’s difficult to resist adding more.

To deflect attention away from the empty order sheet that wants to be filled, I decided to play a mind game. Using the catalogue from Hemerocallis Montfort, a local grower in the foothills of the Laurentian Mountains, I made a hypothetical collection of those plants that combine strong, eye-catching visuals, with high to very high prices tags. By coincidence, most of the selection is better suited for a hot-colored garden.

Long hours and much energy are invested in breeding new varieties of hemerocallis. Primarily, that accounts for the higher prices. It will take from three to six years before they become more affordable. Until then, this assortment will not appear on my to buy list. 

 Bass Gibson is  bright yellow and orange with exceptionally toothy edges. Strong thick scapes grow 32 inches high, with 3 to 5 branches, flowers measure 5.5 inches and are sunfast until late afternoon. Plant  produces 20 to 30 buds, dormant foliage, and blooms early to mid season.


Running Hot has flowers that bloom red with a ruffled gold edge and measure 6.5 inches. The scapes reach 28 inches high, with wide laterals, 4-way branching, and 30 to 35 buds. With beautiful low arching evergreen foliage, it blooms early to mid season.

 

Jennifer Trimmer produces blooms that measure 6 ¾” in lavender purple with watermark and knobby gold edge, foliage is evergreen, and scapes are 30 inches tall. The breeder is so impressed with the appearance of this variety that he has named it after his daughter. It blooms early to mid season with repeats.

 

Ruckus  has blooms measuring 5.5 inches on 28 inch scapes. Flowers are yellow with brushed cinnamon rose highlights with fireworks all over the petal edges and most of the sepal edges, flowers midseason, dormant foliage.

 

Dances with Giraffes produces two branches of very tall scapes reaching  60 inches high, with massive cascading blooms that measure 8 inches across, flowering medium late with a 26 bloom count, in gold yellow with a green throa; foliage is dormant.

 

Kathrine Marin has a watermark on cherry pink coloring with wide, knobby creamy-gold edges. The 6-inch flowers are borne on strong 33-inch scapes, having 3 to 4 branches. Each branch has 5 to 7 buds, creating a high bud count, foliage is semi evergreen and flowers bloom mid season to late.

 

Orange Grove  produces a flower in pumpkin orange with red eye and serrated edge. Its tall elegant scapes reach 33 inches high and hold flat heavy iridescent blooms that measure 6.5 inches across in an outfacing manner for perfect viewing; 4-way branching (2 laterals plus terminal “y”), 35-40 buds, blooms early with repeats; evergreen foliage.

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.

Sunday
Aug282011

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?

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!