Sunday, August 7, 2016

The Daylily as Art - Part 2 Patterns

The Daylily as Art

Influences on Flower and Plant Aesthetics from the Arts and the Natural World

Part 2 - Patterns - the basics

As I begin the discussion of "patterns" I want to be clear about what I mean when I use the term 'pattern'. By pattern, I mean any variations in color. Those daylilies that are not patterned would be called 'self colored'. Self-colored daylilies have petals and sepals that are the same color and tone and they may have an alternate color in the throat such as gold or green. While they may show eyes or midribs under ultraviolet light, they do not show these traits to the naked human eye.

'Pattern' then as I am using it is any non-self colored flower. Most daylily people will perhaps think of 'pattern' as the broken patterned eyes seen in modern cultivars. I take a broader definition that means 'pattern' is any variations in color or tone that make a flower that is not self colored (excepting the throat area).

To me, there are five basic 'patterns' found in daylily species and cultivars. They are 1.) Eyes/Bands, 2.) Bicolor/Bitone (or the reverse versions of either), 3.) Petal Edging (wherein self, eye/band or bicolor/bitone flowers show petal edges either as a fine line of lighter contrasting color, petal edges that are a lighter tone of the petal color or a lighter color than the main petal color and petal edges that are a darker tone of, or different color than, the petal color), 4.) Veins/Spots (where veins or spots of a darker tone are apparent on the petals) and 5.) Contrasting Midribs (which usually occur in conjunction with eyes/bands). 

We see all of these basic patterns within the various species and species clones. These patterns are the precursors of the more complex patterns seen in the cultivars, which we will look at in the next installment.

The two basic divisions of the species flowers are self colored and eyed. Amongst the self-colored, some show slightly lighter or darker petal edges and others fade at the edges during the course of the day to show a lighter tone of the petal color, and we might see a slight variation of tone in the midrib in some cases of the self colored species. Amongst the eyed fulva clones, we see several variations of the basic eye from a slight band to a very distinct, contrasting eye. We also see reverse bitone in some of the fulva clones and there are various edgings as well as veins and spots and midribs to be seen in some of the fulva clones. The only thing I mentioned above that is not seen in any of the species of which I am aware is the fully bicolor type showing petals of a darker color and sepals of a lighter, different color with no trace of the petal color to be found on the sepals. This seems to result from the crossing of the yellow types with the fulva clones in captivity amongst hybrid populations.


H. f. 'Europa'

Let us look at the eye/band style of basic pattern first. The band is a darker area between the throat and the end of the petal. Flowers with bands have the darker area only occurring on the petal with no darker area on the sepals. Cultivars with eyes show this darker area between throat and petal ends on both the petals and sepals. These are characteristic of the H. fulva clones in the wild species, as well as in H. sempervirens and H. aurantiaca, both of which are closely allied to the fulva complex. 

Now I could write an entire blog on the evolutionary reasons that these patterns exist in the wild species clones, but that is not what I want to look at in this blog post. I want to look at how each of these basic patterns are perceived by me as I filter them through the lens of my interests and aesthetics in art and culture, and how that in turn influences some of the directions I am working toward in my own program and the phenotypes I am most interested in breeding and further advancing.

When I look at the eyes of many of the fulva clones, and many of the eyed cultivars as well, I see a six-pointed star pattern, often called a hexagram, when the eye is visible on the petals and the sepals. This, to me, is the most basic geometric form of the eyed daylily clones, as it is apparent in several of the fulva clones. When the pattern on the sepals is not visible, as in wide petalled cultivars, the basic pattern becomes a triangle, which is one half of the hexagram.

While many people in the western world will associate the hexagram with the Star of David, I associate it more with Eastern symbols, personally, due to my own interests and background influences. Since early childhood, I have been rather obsessed with East Asian art and culture. I have been especially obsessed with Chinese and Japanese culture and art, but also Tibetan and Indian as well. To study these cultures, one can't really avoid the mystical/religious influences and symbols, which permeate the art of these cultures. As such, the hexagram is a symbol I am very familiar with from Asia culture and art. 

In Indian Hindu systems the hexagram, especially when colored green, is seen to be the Anahata or "heart chakra", while in Chinese Taoist systems, the heart is called the "middle Dantian", which is seen as the "crimson palace". There has been extensive cultural exchange between India and China for millennia, so the two symbols are known in both cultures and have influenced each other, and both influencing Tibetan culture as well. One sees the hexagram throughout these regions. So the hexagram also permeates Buddhist symbology, which arose out of the Indian subcontinent and spread throughout Asia grafting itself onto the native, more shamanic, nature-based systems in all the countries it spread to.

To me, it seems interesting that the areas where the fulva clones are native wild flora should also be the areas that developed these hexagram symbols. I am not saying that the Anahata is based on the fulva clones, but it seems quite coincidental, especially when we consider that the two most commonly seen Anahata are the green and the orange with a yellow or yellow to green center. Further, the 'Anahata' relates to love, universal love, motherly love, healing, peace, respite from pain or problems, calmness, etc. In traditional Asian medicinal systems the daylily, especially the fulva clones, are considered to be the 'flower that removes worries', is used as a sedative for hysteria, worries and pain, and is also related to be a symbol of the mother. The fulva clones are sometimes referred to as "crimson flower" or "crimson removing-worries flower", just as the middle Dantian is related to the color crimson. While that doesn't prove that one is directly related to the other, it is suggestive and interesting.

Here, H. fulva 'Korean' (Apps) in the early morning. Note the green in the heart of the throat and the distinct hexagram formed by the petals and tepals with their dark eye markings above the throat. While this green throat doesn't compare to a modern cultivar like Navajo Princess or Rose F. Kennedy, it is undeniably a green pigmentation within the throat that seems to radiate outward nearly to the eye.

Here, another fulva clone I bought as 'Hankow' again showing the distinct green pigmentation within the throat radiating out to the eye and the decided hexagram geometric form.

Here we see a collage of Anahata symbols. The center one, to me, is most telling. 

While the above is interesting and suggestive, I am not attempting to prove anything. All that matters to me is that I "see" this symbol in the eyed daylily cultivars where both the pattern of the petals and sepals are visible. I notice this effect and it is something I value. Because I know the symbology of the Anahata, being surrounded by daylilies with eyes suggestive of this geometric symbol is a thing I enjoy. Not because I am a "believer" in the religions this symbol arose from, but because I appreciate the art and thought of the cultures from which this symbol arose. 

A wonderful example of a modern cultivar showing an enhanced green throat with an eye pattern is Brown Exotica. The hexagram/Anahata is very obvious in this cultivar.

So when I am in the garden and see this symbol in the center of the flowers around me, it reminds me to be calm and to focus on how much I love the plants, not because of any beliefs or mysticism, but because I am using it as a mnemonic device to bring myself more calmness and joy in my work. If I am hot and distracted by a biting fly, I might just see one of those flowers with the Anahata geometric eye and find a little space to not be angry and bothered. It is self-suggestion, but that doesn't mean it doesn't work. 

It is important to remember that just because a method arose in a religious context doesn't automatically make it false. It may well only be cloaked in superstitious terminology, but under that terminology may be actual science, if we take the time to find it there. Recent laboratory research by scientists into the effects of meditation on brainwaves and brain function is an example of untwining the physiological and scientific from the superstitious, symbolic and metaphoric. And, of course, art and aesthetic don't need any justification, nor do they need to be dissected by the cold light of rational materialism.

Here are some examples of hybrid daylily cultivars showing the hexagram form in their eye pattern, in an array of color combinations.

Cherokee Vision

Galaxy Explosion

Solaris Symmetry

Wind Master

Susan Okrasinski

This is an interesting pattern to me. It occurs in the usual form, where the petals are dark and the sepals are light, and in the reverse form where the petals are lighter and the sepals are darker. The former type does not seem to occur in the species, but seems to derive from crossing fulvas with yellow species. The proto-typical bicolor for me is Frans Hals.
Frans Hals

The bicolors are not well-liked by a lot of daylily people, but I find them stunning, eye-catching and bright. They occur in many variations with the lighter color usually being yellow or white and the darker color usually being one of the anthocyanic colors - red, orange, pink, purple, lavender. 

The bitones have different tones of the same color, so you might see pale yellow sepals and medium yellow petals, or lavender sepals and purple petals, etc. Hemerocallis sempervirens is a species that shows a bitone effect, but is not a bicolor.
A bitone seedling

H. sempervirens

The reverse versions of these two types will have lighter petals and darker sepals. We see this type of bitone in some fulva clones, as well as in modern hybrid cultivars.

H. fulva 'Hankow' showing subtle reverse bitone. The trait is more obvious on some days, depending on weather conditions.

A reverse bitone seedling

There are interesting cultivars showing reverse bicolor, such as Crackling Fire, but I am not aware of any species clones that show this effect.

When I look at these types, I am reminded of the Yin/Yang symbol from Chinese Taoist philosophy. To Taoist philosophers, the Yin/Yang symbol encompasses all dualisms, all pairs of opposites, out of which the cosmos is made. While there is folk Taoism, which is religious (and superstitious) in nature, philosophical Tao is a system of agnostic philosophy that seeks to understand and explain the cycles of the natural world. 

My love for and study of Asian culture meant there was no way for me to avoid Taoism. However, being basically agnostic myself, Taoism is a natural philosophical fit, as it doesn't have a belief system as most people would recognize such. One might say that metaphorically, Taoism is an inquiry, rather than a structured set of beliefs, a box, to confine one's view of reality within.

So who can say which came first, my love of Taoist philosophy or my love of bicolor daylilies? I would say that one simply complements the other. I grew Frans Hals from early childhood. I have been aware of the yin/yang symbol and Taoism since my early teens, so I guess my love of bicolor daylilies came first, but as soon as I became aware of the yin/yang symbol I saw it in the bicolor daylily flowers and have seen it there ever since. It reminds me that all things must rest in balance and things which fall out of balance are doomed. This is an important lesson for daylily breeders to remember, where the temptation is for the flower to be all and the plant to be ignored...

Petal Edging
The most common petal edging in the species clones is the paler edge, though we see hints of the darker edge in some fulva clones as well as the beginnings of the contrasting wire edge in some fulva clones as well.

Here in this H. fulva 'Hankow' clone we see the pale edges very strongly on the petals and slightly expressed on the sepals. This is not a fading effect, as this picture is from early morning.

A close examination of the H. fulva 'Korean' flower can often reveal a slightly darker edge on the petals.

Here is another type of 'pale edge'. This is the 'fading edge' where a self colored flower fades at the edges to create a pale edged look in the evening. Some of the yellow species can show a bit of this effect. This is Spider Miracle growing in a western facing garden photographed in the late evening.

A close viewing of this picture of an H. fulva 'Korean' flower reveals a fine, bright yellow wire edge on petals and sepals.

In the hybrid cultivars, these minor traits within the species have been extensively developed. I will be looking at the eye/edge styles in the next installment, but for this installment, I want to focus on the pale edge, whether or not derived through fading effects.

I am especially fond of pale edges. I like those that show this trait in the morning and I like cultivars that show this traits after fading has occurred throughout the day, when viewed in the afternoon. 

Seedling showing light edges on red flower from early morning

Seedling showing purple with darker eye and light edge from morning

Seedling showing pale edge in the morning that becomes more extreme as the day progresses

Cultivar Mama's Cherry Pie showing pale edges at midday. This one can have pale edges in morning, but tends to only show them on most days after fading through the day.

Here, Mama's Cherry Pie at the end of the day showing both the pale edge and extreme fading that creates a three-fold pattern of darker red eye, pink/red petal center with midrib and very distinct, near white pale edges. This look is one I very much like.

The above picture of Mama's Cherry Pie shows a basic effect that I love and see a distinct image within. There are other cultivars that show this effect even more strongly, such as Shark Attack (right - also by the Faye Shooter). I have seen other cultivars that can show this effect even more strongly. In these types I see the image of the ancient Neolithic bird goddess sculptures, exemplified by those found in Egypt.

Egyptian Bird Goddess statuary and images

The darker eye of the flower is the raised arms of the figure, while the middle strip of color extending below the eye is the body of the figure. This is a look I find very beautiful, and I love the pattern imagery that is a combination of eye, pale edge and fading edge. The fact that there are three petals on most daylilies, and thus you have three of these goddesses (thus a 'triple goddess' symbol) is just the icing on the cake. Anyone who has studied comparative religions or has simply studied the ancient goddess religions, the cultures in which this symbolism flourished and the art they created will be familiar with the archetype of the 'triple goddess' from these ancient mythic cycles.

Veins and Spots
These are traits that I find very interesting but that have not been highly developed to this point in time. We see both of these traits appear at times in some of the fulva clones, and there are some cultivars that are known for these traits, while others will show either trait at times.

Strong veins of darker orange are visible on the lighter orange petal of this H. fulva 'Korean' flower.

H. fulva 'Korean' flower showing distinct red spots  and subtle veins on the petals.

Coral Majority showing spots of darker coral on lighter coral

Beautifully visible veins on Alien DNA

Very strong veins on Nowhere To Hide

Paint It Black showing both subtle veins and subtle spots

The veins and spots are subtle patterns. The veins tend to be more consistent than the spots. Spots are rarely consistent, but perhaps in time they can be bred up to be more consistent.

The veins remind me of many natural patterns, from the course of rivers...

To the veins of a butterflies wings... 

or the rays within a fish's fins...

To the veins of many other flower species...

To the blood vessels in our bodies, the branches of trees and the ridges of a mountain range, we see this pattern repeated again and again within the natural world.

The spots are also a common pattern within the natural world, from the spots of leopards and cheetah...
To the spotted patterns of many birds... 
To the spots seen in the patterns of many reptiles... 
To the spots seen in many flowers...

To the spots in the wings of moths and butterflies...
It is no surprise to me that we see spots occur from time to time in daylilies. They are not yet stable, but can they be? I suspect so, but only time will tell. For me, the one thing that the spots make me think of more than anything else is the spots in the pattern of the Reticulated Python...

The final pattern I want to touch on with this post is the midrib. It is rare to see the contrasting midrib without an eye or band, but occasionally the eye is so subtle that we may think we are seeing a self colored flower with a midrib. I don't have much to say about midribs, except to say that I like them. They add yet another layer of complexity to other patterns. They are essential, to me, with the hexagram/Anahata-style eye pattern, as they appear to be rays of light radiating out of the hexagram. 

When I see midribs, I always see the rays of stars, rays of lights radiating from a radiant point, lighting the entire effect of the flower. Many people seem to not like midribs (much as with orange flowers and bicolors), and that is ok. I don't want anyone to like something just because I do, but I love midribs (and orange flowers and bicolors). Each of the flower phenotypes that I like has a reason behind it. The point of these blog posts about my influences in phenotype are to illustrate to you what influences me and what I see in these looks, not to convince you that you should like them if you don't.

Here are three examples of midribs in conjunction with hexagram eyes to illustrate how the midrib becomes a ray of light radiating out of the hexagram...

In the next blog post in this series, we will look at the complex patterns of the modern hybrids such as patterned eyes and complex edge/eye combinations and the influences I draw on in the way I see these patterns.