Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Daylily Daydreaming

 Mary Todd, a marvelous oldie, generous in bloom and very hardy.

It was good to spend some time deciding what daylilies I want to order from Melanie Mason at North Country Daylilies today.  What better way to spend a cloudy day than looking at dazzling summer flowers?  I used Melanie's print catalog, her website (which has photos of her introductions past and present, but not of all the 450 or so varieties she sells), and Tinker's Gardens Daylily Database, with the occasional Google search, for photos of the more obscure varieties. Since there are tens of thousands of registered daylily cultivars, your choices are really only limited by your patience and your budget.  I'm more interested in garden performance than breeder cachet, newness, or rarity, and while I dabble in breeding, I just like the flowers and the fun of seeing something new.  Daylilies are a fantastic perennial for gardens all over the country.

 Totally Southern, an introduction by the Shooters at Marietta Gardens.  
Despite the name, it's perfectly hardy in Central NY.

You can pay as little as $5 for a "golden oldie" or a rather common daylily, or upwards of $150 for a single fan for the latest and greatest introductions from breeders for the current year.   I generally spend between $8 and $15 per plant, and usually less than $150 per year on my daylily hobby, but I've got quite a few of my own hybridized daylily seedlings to play with, and a limited amount of prepared garden space.  I don't want to turn my yard into a display garden with only daylilies - they have to "play nice" with a wide range of things in a mixed garden.  I'm not an extravagant spender, even though there plenty of more expensive daylilies that are truly gorgeous and that I would love to own.

 Maude's Valentine, with its lovely patterned eye and green throat.

Everything comes down in price eventually.  I'd rather buy a proven garden plant at a lower price than take a chance on a new one or southern intro that may not like my northeastern climate.  I have a set amount to spend this year, and I decided to order more, less expensive varieties to make the most of my limited budget.  I've chosen a mixed bag of plants, mostly diploid, mostly taller, and mostly warm colors, with a couple cool lime-yellow-creams for good measure:

Boston Symphony (Reilly, P., 1999) diploid, dormant, 27" tall, 4" flowers, early-mid blooming, cool creamy near white - very elegant, and it should be a good foil to the hot colors in the front yard
Open Hearth (Lambert 1976) diploid, dormant, 26" tall, 9" flowers, mid blooming, striking red with a ruby halo, golden throat, unusual form - a classic oldie, it should make an really amazing clump in a few years
Cool Spice (Sobek 1990) diploid, dormant, 36" tall, 5 1/4" flowers, mid blooming, light green-yellow self with a very green throat - this one looks wonderful, cool and elegant
Melon Extract  (Sobek 1990) diploid, dormant, 30" tall, 3 1/2" flowers, mid to late blooming, strong orange-melon self, striking - I like the color, and the smaller flowers
Rescue Me (Mason, 2002) tetraploid, dormant, 26" tall, 5" flowers, early-mid blooming, lemon with peach overtones and amber pencil-line eye, green throat - very subtle, but striking too
Ruby Laser (Blaney 1994) tetraploid, dormant, 32" tall, 5 1/2" flowers, early-mid blooming, clear, bright ruby red - really intense with a green throat, the purest red I've seen in a daylily
Shoutin' the Blues (Bachman 2003) diploid, semi-evergreen, 39" tall, 9" flowers, mid blooming, lime yellow with light midribs and bright lime green throat, unusual form - different form than most of my other daylilies, wide open and a bit curly

I received the most amazing plants from Melanie at North Country last year; I can hardly wait to see what I get from her this year.  I would love to visit her farm northeast of Albany in July - hopefully I'll get the opportunity.  Day trip, anyone?

My order from North Country Daylilies 2010.  Wow!!