Saturday, September 3, 2016

The Daylily as Art - Part 5 Form 2

The Daylily as Art

Influences on Plant and Flower Aesthetic from Nature, the Arts, Fashion and Pop Culture
Part 5 - Forms - Complexity in the Hybrids

In this segment, I will continue looking at the forms, and my influences on how I view - what I see in - these forms. We looked at the basic species forms in the last installment. In this segment, we will dive into the variations in form that has been developed in the hybrid garden daylilies. We will focus on the round/ruffled and bagel (wide-petalled with recurve), unusual forms and spider forms.
Round Petals
Janice Brown, an early round type.

This was one of the main areas of focus of the many hybridizers who have worked on daylilies since the early days into recent years. We now have very round petals in daylilies. Of that there is no doubt. Even though I like some other forms just marginally better, I still like the round forms as well.

Round petals are usually found with ruffling or other edges, and when recurve is combined with round petals, you get the "bagel" style of round daylily flower. I do like recurve, but more with long-petaled flowers where recurve becomes curling.

A bagel type seedling, though the petals are a bit narrower than you usually see.

In the early days, when round petals were just becoming a reality, there were some cultivars that had a fair amount of roundness with fairly tailored edges, but you rarely see that today.

Custard Candy is an early round with only slight edging.

In round types, I prefer them with edges, especially ruffling, contrast color ruffling or pie-crust. I will say that these don't thrill me when they don't open well, but when you find a cultivar of this type that doesn't hang-up when trying to open and opens out well, these are really stunning.

Belle of Ashwood is one of my favorites of the round and edged types. It opens well nearly every time and has good consistency.

These types remind me very much of ruffled gowns, such as the hoop skirt gowns of the antebellum south, prom gowns, quinceanera gowns, ball gowns or showgirl's ruffled costumes.

A range of big, gaudy, ruffled gowns historic and modern and a show girl's ruffled coat (lower left). The round and ruffled daylilies remind me of nothing so much as these types of gowns and costuming.

The round and ruffled forms for me are soft and elegant ranging to gaudy and outrageous, but they are all feminine and lovely. They are truly the belles of the garden. I never see these without thinking of ruffled costuming, especially the huge gowns with crinolines or hoops. I will say though that my best friend's husband always says that the round and ruffled types look like mortuary arrangements. He likes the spider forms, and I do see why he sees that in the round ruffled types, but I prefer not to associate them with the grave, and instead, associate this type with these lovely gowns.

Hush Little Baby is an older, gorgeous little hot pink diploid with beautiful ruffles.

Trade-Last, the pod parent of Hush Little Baby, is a wonderful light pink diploid with beautiful ruffles.

Karen Stephens is a beautifully ruffled deep garnet-red tetraploid. A recent introduction, it shows the very wide petals and modern type.

A lovely light orange, red-eyed round ruffled tetraploid seedling.

Spacecoast Irish Illumination is a gorgeous round ruffled light yellow with a darker yellow throat and edge.

Unusual Forms

I love the unusual forms. They are probably my very favorite form. They remind me of nothing so much as orchid flowers. I am certainly not the first to see that in these types. Many other breeders have seen this and worked in this direction. I am so grateful for the wonderful work others have done to make these very orchid-like flowers. That creates a base for me to work from without having to try to make this style from scratch. Two breeders who have bred these are Brian Mahieu and Linda Michaels. I work with several of their lines.

It seems natural to me that the Hemerocallis would produce flower forms that are orchid like, as both Hemerocallis and Orchidaceae belong to the Asparagales (lilioid monocots). It is not uncommon for many genus within an order to show similar traits. 

The funny thing to me is the "unusual form" really isn't so unusual, as this basic type is seen in some of the Hemerocallis species. In fact, I think the 'round and ruffled' are much more unusual, in comparison to the species, than the so-called 'unusual form' class. 

There are various additive features that can be added to the basic unusual forms, such as crispates that include pinched petals and quilled sepals, cascades where the petals droop, hang or curl, and spatulates with petals that are narrower at the base than at the end, making a spoon-like look. For more information on the details of these types, please see the AHS daylily dictionary entry on unusual formsI like every variation of the unusual form class, but I am especially fond of cascade and spatulate types. 
An early unusual form, Giant Fling, by Wild. This one shows petal pinching.

Spider Miracle, despite the name, is actually an unusual form cascade. On this day it was showing pinched petals as well.

Jersey Jim is a lovely unusual form that is a crispate, but looks very cascade in this picture.

This seedling is a very lovely unusual form that often shows quilled petals, along with spatulate petals.

Another lovely seedling showing the spatulate style.

Pack Hunter showing quilled sepals.

Pack Hunter on a different day showing curling sepals and petals.

A lovely unusual form seedling.

Another striking unusual form seedling.

Ancient Elf is a lovely small flowered unusual form with petal pinching and slight spatulate form to the petals as well. On some days the sepals may quill.

Redneck Red is a large flowered, tall unusual form with crispate petal pinching and open, recurved sepals.

Asterisk is the classic spatulate.

A lovely cascade unusual form seedling.

The unusual forms bring a striking, orchid like effect into the garden, elegant and eye-catching, they have long been extremely appealing to me and are one of my favorite forms in the whole genus.

Spider Forms

The spider form flowers are characterized by long, narrow petals and sepals that are a minimum of 4 times as long as wide, or a ratio of 4.0:1 or more. The greater the ratio, the more extreme the spider form. You can see the origins of this form and several of the species and their clones, especially H. citrina and some of the H. fulva clones.
H. fulva 'Hankow'

I must say that I love this type of daylily flower. They are extremely eye catching and unusual looking. In the garden, they quite stand out from everything else. However, the group can present difficult pod fertility, weak scapes and often show foliage much like their flowers - odd, narrow and drooping - that is unattractive and prone to leaf streak. However, I tend to look at this in terms of the Japanese concept of 'Wabi-sabi'. In that respect, the flowers, scapes and foliage are all of a piece.

In spite of these drawbacks I enjoy them in the garden and work with them, ever looking for that breakthrough with gorgeous foliage and great pod fertility. The best cultivar I have found in these regards is 'Divertissement' in the diploids and 'Wild Wookie' in the tetraploids. I certainly have not grown every spider cultivar. These two are simply the best for these traits that I have grown to date.


Wild Wookie

This group, obviously, reminds me of a spider, but there are other things that they remind me of. There are many things in nature, and many examples amongst domestic plants and animals as well, of this elongated, sleek, streaming look. We also see this in fashion and popular culture in such expressions as pencil-thin fashion models to David Bowie's famous 'Thin White Duke' persona.

In nature, such things as snakes, the long tail feathers of some birds, the elongated legs and neck of the giraffe, the long legs of many birds, snakes in general, octopus and starfish, spiders, grasses and many species of flowering plant all express this thin, elongated phenotypes.



Spider lily




Sarus cranes

Blue Crane

Florida Kingsnake

Amongst domestic animals and plants, the spider formed daylilies remind me of nothing more than certain breeds of chicken, such as Modern Game, or pigeons, such as Pouters. These breeds show skeletal extension genes which elongate the entire skeletal system, creating a long, thin outline. I am also reminded of the long tailed chicken breeds such as phoenix, which grow tail feathers of three feet or more, much more in some Japanese lines of long tailed chickens. I also see long bodied, long tailed goldfish reflected in the spider forms.

Modern Game chicken - photo from

Phoenix long tailed chicken

Comet goldfish

In art, the spider forms remind me of some of Salvador Dali's work as well as the famous Medusa's hair from classical mythology.

Swans Reflecting Elephants - Dali

Medusa by Caravaggio

In fashion, in addition to the thin models, there are thin fashions that are reminiscent of the thin petals of spider form daylily flowers, some which I find aesthetically pleasing and some I don't, such as 'skinny jeans', hobble skirts, pencil skirts and column dresses that play on this elongated look. Spiral ribbons and spiral curled hair remind me of curled spider form daylily flowers as well.

Edwardian Hobble Dress

A rainbow of 'Skinny Jeans'

Morticia in Hobble Dress

 Spiral Curls

Column Dress

The spider form daylilies remind me of many things. I always love this confluence of influences, where something I love and appreciate (the spider daylilies in this instance) incorporates an aesthetic I may also appreciate and enjoy in other areas. When I see the spider daylilies, I see many other things, and I think this is one of the things that so many people who love the spider forms also feel. Growing and breeding the spider forms is like having some rare and exotic jewel in the garden - a classical monster, a fashion statement, a high fashion model, a bizarre bird or exotic, tropical flower.

String Bikini

Mint Octopus


Next time we will look at the additive forms that enhance and modify the basic, major forms we have looked at so far, and of course, I will be showing you the influences I derive from nature, art, fashion and pop culture in my enjoyment of and breeding work with those forms.