Sunday, July 10, 2016

Gardening Update - Deer Damage

Gardening Update - Deer Damage

Or,  More Uses of Adversity...

For the last two weeks I have been having an exceptionally aggressive episode of deer damage. Of course this has produced something of an emotional rollercoaster, as one might expect, but once the adrenal rush wears off, I tend to use such situations to guide my work, using adversity to shape the changes I need to make. While I don't believe such situations are 'guiding' me, I do use them to figure out what will work, or to experiment toward discovering what will work, in my situation.

I have lived on this same piece of property for most of my forty-seven years. We had no deer here when I was a child. By the time I was in my twenties, we occasionally saw a deer. Within the last ten years the deer population has become increased considerably. 

When I was a child, there were sections of woodland around natural water features such as creeks and springs and the rest of the farm was open grass fields and cultivated fields. In my twenties, I began to plant bamboo and now, twenty years later, I have huge bamboo groves and the majority of the old farm is now in regrowth woodland, with some open grass fields and cultivated gardens.

When you combine the increase in deer population and the increase in cover, I have basically created a deer preserve. I can't say that wasn't probably intentional, at least on a subconscious level. I have always loved deer, finding them elegant and interesting. I saw Bambi way too young. I have never hunted and that in an area where everybody hunts. I can hunt. I have just chosen too on few rare occasions. However, as I have grown older and more realistic about the life-cycle of lifeforms, I understand that predators would keep the herd in check. Without those predators, numbers increase until the herds decimate the local forage. In some areas of the eastern US, this process is much worse than it is here.

There has been plant predation by the deer to some level for some time, but I have only seen heavy daylily predation for the last three years, in some of the display gardens, but it had not happened in my hybridizing garden or around my house. That was new this year. We had never seen any problems with the daylilies before 2010, but I have also noticed that our native deer have become rather robust within the last three to four years. We have also had exceptionally wet years since 2012, creating a lot of profuse foliage growth, so this may figure in the increase in size of the native deer. 

In that time the numbers that are staying here have increased considerably, with a troop now being basically stationed here most of the time and being in predictable places throughout the day, though moving through surrounding properties as well through the day. Another factor that may have an effect is that until 2012, I kept domestic fowl, often in fairly large numbers, and they are reactive to things moving around their enclosures. Deer, being naturally skittish, would react to chicken warning calls, and the lack of birds to make those calls may play some part in their forays deeper and deeper into all landscaped areas. In the past, each of those areas would have had populations of chickens that cut those gardens off from the outer fields and woods. 

For three years, I have seen fawns laying in my daylily beds on the sides of my house. I have not had any foraging until this year, when they have completely decimated the mid, mid-late and late cultivars. I was able to save the majority of the early-early and early breeding in these gardens by covering the seed pods with paper bags. Here is a gallery of the beauty of flower-less-ness in midseason...

Beaucoup Bouquet is a lovely red that is normally in bloom for about four weeks in mid-late season. It started early this year, so I did get to see a few flowers. I had pods set as well, but those nourished the deer.

In Memoriam...
Beaucoup Bouquet, truly a lovely and useful cultivar from Nate Bremer. It will be getting moved for future use to a more secure location.

Hemerocallis fulva clone seed pods covered for preservation.

In the foreground, white seedlings from Clouds of White x Lily Munster. I have grown these for years and I adore the flowers - huge, UF, weird and near white. I have left them here for years just because they are so pretty, but they have no branching, as you can see from the remnants of the scapes, and so they have just served as a decorative planting now for five years. This group of seedlings normally produce flowers for about a month and then rebloom later in the year. I may get to see the rebloom phase on some of them. The bagged plants in the background are early-early diploids.

So Lovely and Fuchsia Dream, both mid-late cultivars, and a late blooming tetraploid seedling I have had for many years.

So Lovely

Fuchsia Dream

Eyed Tet Seedling

Chicago Apache in the foreground and a mixed planting of Carmine Monarch, Rajah, H. fulva forma clones and Autumn Red in the background.

Chicago Apache

Rajah and Carmine Monarch

Few Hosta were spared...

Even the Jewel Weed has been extremely popular.

The simple solution here is to move the important daylilies for breeding into a more secure location and the rest can do as they do, serving as an ornamental grass that sometimes gives me flowers. Peonies, especially tree peonies, have shown no predation by deer so far, so perhaps I will begin to slowly transition away from any daylilies and hostas in these beds and more toward more deer resistant landscaping. Or perhaps even nothing but a  rock-scape. Plants that may work here are some grasses (which will blend with the daylily foliage nicely or substitute it, as needed), hellebores, tree peonies, lavender, mint, rosemary, thyme, etc.

I do not know if the deer will become more aggressive and begin to eat the daylily foliage, though I have seen the deer eat some evergreen foliage in the open seedling beds during winter. Only time will tell. I know that some areas of the US have trouble keeping any plants, flowers or foliage. I read many accounts of large herds of starving deer roaming in residential suburbs eating the landscaping back to nothing. Even deer-proof plants are destroyed in those situations. I hope that doesn't occur here, but even at the current level, breeding and display apparently will require some vigilance and/or enclosures going into the future. 

If I am able to maintain daylily plants in these beds, even if they never flower, it will underscore the need for foliage to look nice. It is an interesting coincidence that Mike Huben visited my garden after the National in Louisville, Ky just as this deer attack was occurring. We discussed foliage qualities and Mike mentioned that he tells people to look at a daylily plant and imagine that it was an ornamental grass, something not grown for the bloom, and that you might even break out the scape so as not to obscure the foliage display. I had to laugh out loud! I love that analogy. It also made me think. I have been growing daylilies for foliage for years, as I have used them as an ornamental grass substitute in my gardens for a long time. I always look at the plants in the off season and have favorites based solely on their lovely foliage display. However, I don't know if any plants will survive into the future in these beds if the deer population continues to expand in this area. Only time will tell, but if there is no full-scale destruction of the plants, I will use this problem as a tool in these beds and the large, open seedling beds to select seedlings for excellent foliage traits and plant habit.

My hybridizing garden has a double fence around it and so I have never had any problems. I have also never sprayed that garden, because to date I had never needed to. I also had an open gate at two points in the outer fence, and I had left those open for five years with no problem. No longer! That has been discovered and I have had to close those in and begin to spray that garden as well. I have also moved more large pots against the back fence where they had been coming over the fence even after I closed in the gates. I have now heavily sprayed this entire garden and have had no more hits, but got a heavy hit in the lower section of the outer fence one night and two nights in a row inside the inner fenced area, where there was less damage to any given plant, but more of an even browsing at about 20% removal of pods, flowers and buds. I can tell you that I was spitting mad when I found that first night's damage in this garden :-)

A select Chicago Apache seedling heavily damaged.

Tooth and Nail by John Benz. A lovely orange toothy tetraploid, also heavily damaged.

Curt Hanson's lovely red Peoples Pleasure Park had luckily been blooming long enough to have some pods, but had many more buds.

Bela Lugosi, also by Curt Hanson, had been blooming for a while and had a good number of seed pods, but most of those pods and the last of the buds and flowers were eaten. Luckily, there are a few pods left and all the pods were the result of the same long-cross.

A seedling patch of select five year old seedlings for breeding, decimated.

To remedy this situation, I will have to add frequent repellent spraying to this garden until I can increase the height of the current fence. I plan to attempt this by adding 10' conduit strapped to the T-posts that are already there. I will post in the future the details on whether this succeeds or fails in the longterm, but it will work as a temporary measure as I begin to make greater changes in my whole working system, infrastructure and program. In time, this garden, which already has several tree peony growing in it, will move more toward tree peony and continue to be used for some daylily and hosta breeding as long as the deer can be kept out. However, this needs to become more of a test garden where some breeding occurs though less than currently, with some planting changes especially to the fence-lines and a prioritization of what I now want to move forward with.

UV stabilized PVC Conduit - 10' long to add height to the hybridizing garden fence

It is now apparent that I will need to invest in an eight-foot chainlink fenced area somewhere. I would like to put that on ground that is level, so none of the current fenced areas will work. I do have beds that are in more level areas, but these are grow-out and seedling beds, so there may have to be some rearrangement of the purpose for the various areas to accommodate that change. Since the chainlink fencing is a considerable investment for a garden of any size above a few feet by a few feet, this will have to be given careful consideration and time for proper deliberation.

Here are two examples of beginning deer-graze signs. These are from a seedling bed I have been keeping sprayed. You have to keep a careful eye out each day for signs of new grazing. They will sample a few buds or scape-ends here and there to see if the bad taste is gone yet and once it is, they will come back and graze heavily. If you miss these early signs, you may well have a big problem very quickly. You can't rely on the commercial sprays to last as long as they are said to last. They rarely last more than ten to fourteen days in my garden, even when rated for a month. They might last longer in other gardens or under drier conditions, but our frequent rain seems to make it last considerably less than a month. The sprays are expensive, stink and give me a headache in addition to ruining the wonderful smell of the flowers that is such a big part of what I love about gardens. I do not consider sprays a solution, but rather a prophylactic until more secure boundaries can be established.

For this summer, I simply need to stay focused, hybridize what is left that still interests me, weed as needed, keep the gardens where the daylilies haven't been destroyed sprayed to keep the deer at bay, and think about what seems worth the time and effort to move forward with. At the very least, I will have far, far fewer seeds than in any previous year, except perhaps my first year of growing daylilies from seeds (winter 2010-2011). I can say that I am glad to note that several of the crosses I considered most important for this year have survived and there are lots of seed-pods of some of those crosses. These are with longterm tested parents. I have also consciously not set many diploid seeds. I had decided to get focused on certain projects and produce less seed this year even before the deer problem started. I have achieved that in spades, thanks to the deer, but I hadn't set seeds on most of the diploids anyhow, and luckily, many of the tetraploid and the few diploid crosses I have made will give me some seeds. 

So this year's breeding season won't be a total loss. In fact, I will probably have plenty of seeds, but it is a bit demoralizing and the realization that I am going to have to completely rework, basically everything, makes me question how much I want to put into daylilies in the future, what directions I will want to pursue or if it is even worth the effort and expense. I assume I will want to move forward, and I doubt many, if any, of my previous priorities will be abandoned, but I do expect that I will drastically reduce numbers of individuals that I retain for any given program and I am now certain that diploid projects will be drastically reduced and most quickly. 

If I can grow plants in the open, even if the flowers are eaten, I can still grow large numbers of seedlings and spend the first few years just culling them for foliage/plant traits/foliage disease resistance, which could truly turn out to be a huge asset to my program, but if the deer become more aggressive in their grazing and begin to destroy the plants as well as the flowers, then my program will have to reduce drastically, indeed. Only time will tell though, and for now this can actually be used to my advantage, I suspect, if I am clever enough to figure out how to use it to my advantage rather than just giving in to anger and frustration. 

At this time, the main areas for using these difficulties to my advantage is to make some decisions about the space I want to use, the space I am willing to fence with chainlink, the number of plants I can comfortably maintain in the spaces I am interested in using and from there, what actual plants I want to retain and work with. I am not out yet, and my previous experience tells me that such situations can be blessings in disguise if you can find the patience and detachment to let the advantages reveal themselves. Time will tell. I will update on this situation as things advance or change. 

Thursday, July 7, 2016



I finally got a picture of the clone of H. fulva forma rosea said to be the Rosalind daylily. I wanted to post it both to reference to the series I recently published on the species and the early days of hybridizing and the piece I last published on Colors in Daylilies. This clone is not as clean an example of pink as Stout's Charmaine, but it is quite striking when compared to the other fulvas grown in the west at the time of its importation.

In a previous post I recorded the following:

*In 1938 Stout introduced Rosalind. In the introduction year, A.B. Stout described it as:
"The name Hemerocallis fulva var. rosea refers to a group of fulvous daylilies which have rosy pink tints of coloring in their flowers. The first of these plants came to the New York Botanical Garden in a collection of wild plants obtained in the interior of China. There were several of these plants and they differed somewhat in stature, in the width of the segments of the flowers, and in the precise shades of coloring especially in respect to the mid-zone. Some were almost without this zone of more intense color.

"The individual selected for illustration in color (Addisonia 15: plate 484. 1930) at the time this variety was first described, has flowers with a pronounced mid-zone of darker coloring. Historically, this plant is to be considered as the botanical type of the variety. Divisions of this individual plant, itself a wild seedling in origin, have been distributed to some extent. But these divisions do not constitute the variety rosea. Collectively they comprise a single clone which has the same status as any one of the many individual seedlings of the variety. But it is probably correct to say that no other seedling or clone will duplicate this one. It possesses individual differences in character that are of some significance in horticulture.

"In order to give these propagations a desired horticultural identity, I will here give to the clone the name Rosalind daylily. The divisions now offered for sale by several nurseries as Hemerocallis fulva rosea are, I believe, of this clone, provided the stock came from the New York Botanical Garden under this name. Plants of this clone have thus far been incompatible to self and intra-clonal pollinations. Hence, seeds set by the plants of this clone are certain to be from cross-pollination with other plants, and the seedlings obtained from such seeds will not closely resemble the Rosalind daylily. This particular plant can be multiplied only by clonal propagation. Under the name Rosalind one should obtain only divisions of the one plant. " cited from: Horticulture, 1938, vol. 16, p. 226 )"

The Rosalind daylily then appears to actually be a fulva seedling from the wilds of central China that has been vegetatively propagated and is one of the original clones brought from Kuling, Kiangsi in 1924. I have no idea if the plant I grow as 'Rosalind' is the same as what Stout would recognize as 'Rosalind', but it looks similar. Stout introduced many species clones, including many fulva clones. I believe, however, that the 'Rosalind' daylily got officially introduced because someone else had "introduced it to commerce" for Dr. Stout previously and without his knowledge. As you can see above, he explains that the introduction of Rosalind is to give provenance to those daylilies in commerce at that time that derived from his original importations.

In regards to the color, I would point out that one can see in the picture that toward the center of the petals, there is some yellow coloring peaking through that causes the center of the petal to have an orange-pink/peach coloring that is sometimes considered "muddy". Charmaine has less yellow, and the cleanest modern pinks such as Rosy Complexion also show considerably reduced yellow coloring in the petal under the pink upper-anthocyanic pigmentation layer. The eye is quite red fading into hot-pink. You can see in the pictures that the bud is quite pale. There is considerable green in the throat. There is also a nice amount of movement in the petal edges and the overall look is long and thin, though not as extreme as the true-spiders of today.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

The Daylily as Art - Part 1 Color

The Daylily as Art:

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

Part 1 - Color

It is easy to assume that my only interests with the Hemerocallis are scientific, but that isn't the case. I am deeply influenced by my love of and practice of art. I have painted for many years, since early childhood, and the study of color and structure have also been very prominent in all my work. I see there being an art to science and a science to art. Thus I work from both angles in my pursuits with daylilies.

My view of the science of art is having the tools and the knowledge of mediums and applications that allows the expression one sees in the mind's eye to be executed in practice. This is a skill derived through practice and based upon a body of knowledge. For me it is the same with breeding plants or animals. One sees the same set of aesthetic themes, both in terms of structures and forms, as well as colors and patterns, over and over and over in the natural world. Art is based in the observation of the natural world - the rules of mathematics that govern form and proportions, for instance, or the play of light and shadow, etc.

For me, when I begin with a project, I look at the closely related species and genus within the family to which the plant or animal belongs. That gives me some ideas of what might be lurking in the genes, tucked away and waiting to emerge or reemerge, as the case may be. Then I look at the range of phenotypes that currently exist - especially the most extreme phenotypes that represent the furthest departure from the species-base types. I find every shred of published material on the genus and make an effort to review and consider it. Then I begin a long period of dreaming about what could be combined or enhanced, where things could go or how new looks or types might be achieved, and during that time, I make lots of test-crosses to determine what will actually work for me and where I can potentially go with the plants, genetically speaking, by trialing for breeding value for targeted traits. The most important traits are plant traits: vigor, hardiness, cold-tolerance, fertility, disease and pest resistance, beautiful foliage and strong scapes, etc. I focus there first, in spite of my love and excitement for various visual flower traits, because I feel that to focus on the flower traits first, when other traits may be less-than-adequate or totally lacking, is to build a house with no foundation on a layer of sand - an exercise in futility. No wise person hangs curtains in a house before the foundations are laid, and no wise person paints the walls before the house is framed and dried-in.

Once I have the base plants selected to work from, I will continue to monitor plant traits, pest and disease resistance, drought-tolerance, and desired plant traits, but I can then also start to bring the phenotypes I like together more directly and see if I can make headway in that way, concentrating type. This is the point when I can look at the gene pool that I have found worthy of working with, that has the important traits to build a sound house upon, and begin to analyze what flower phenotype traits are actually found within those plants. Many may assume that all I am left with at that point are primitive, old or outdated flower phenotypes, but that actually isn't always the case. I am happy to report that if you are willing to test a range of plants for a few years, you will find a tiny handful of exceptional plants in almost every fancy style and from almost every decade that daylilies have been introduced right up to the current day. The problem is that where the good plants are found is rarely a premeditated affair by a breeder who has focused first and foremost on excellent plants, and more of a random, happy accident. There are a few notable exceptions, but for the most part, it is very hit-or-miss across the board. Once you have found those good plants though and have proven they have breeding value for those traits, the art can begin...

So, I want to look at forms and colors while we consider some of the aesthetic origins of my favorite looks and styles in daylilies. In this first part we will look at color and the patterns and combinations of colors that occurs in the daylilies and the many influences I draw from in what I love in this regard.

In colors, there are two main groups - cool tones and hot tones. The cool tones include the near white range, palest yellows, pink, through lavender and purple, as well as the "blacks and "browns" based on these cool tones. The hot tones are the medium to dark yellows, gold, coral, peach, orange and red, as well as the "blacks" and "browns" based on those warm tones. Now, with eye/edge types, teeth, piecrust edging, etc., we have some flowers which combine both warm and hot tones in the same flower (white edged reds, for example). I love both the hot tones and the cool tones.

To me, the cool tones carry me into the realm of the impressionist painters (especially Monet), Van Gogh, and the moody, misty paintings of the pre-Raphaelite painters (especially John William Waterhouse), Botticelli's Venus or the modern work of painter and former daylily breeder, Brian Mahieu. They also remind me of winter, the sky, clouds, the moon and stars, water and misty mornings and silver. They are reminiscent of swans, white stags, pink dolphins and cockatoos. They are especially welcome in a garden in hot summer when their tones cool the garden and make it more relaxing. They have a sedative effect on the senses. On top of that, my experience is that in very hot conditions, it is the near white and palest yellow flowers that still look the best at the end of the day and aren't completely melted into a dripping, limp mess. In advising people on the backbone of of their daylily garden. I always recommend near white and pale yellow for that very reason.

Waterlilies by Monet

Blue Corn Moon by Robert Selman

Frieda Allen Jerrell by Victor Santa Lucia

Solaris Symmetry by Nate Bremer

Hush Little Baby Seedling

Look Here Mary F2 Seedling

Endless Heart x Purple Termite Seedling

The hot tones on the other hand are enlivening. They are bursting with excitement and exuberance. There is absolutely nothing like the sight of miles of ditches filled with the tropical color of orange fulvas. These hot tones match summer, though for me, they can be a bit much in late summer, in very hot weather, when I just want to cool and take it down a notch, but their tropical, joyous splendor is essential in the late spring and early summer garden and bring excitement and catch the eye like nothing else throughout the entire blooming season into fall. For the latest blooming cultivars, the bright tropical colors are cheery as the season begins to wane and if they extend long enough, will match the changing foliage (H. sempervirens, for instance, does that here very nicely right up the the very first hard frost of fall). The hot tones remind me of the tropics and such painters as Gauguin, Cezanne and Salvador Dali. They remind me of bright cattleya orchids and tropical hibiscus, exotic birds such as the bird of paradise and macaws and exotic tropical fish. They remind me of the sun, sunrise, eclipses, rich wood and fine, rich leather, fire, and gold. They are like the brightest goldfish and the colors of the red jungle fowl. Some people find some of these tones, especially orange, to be off-putting in daylilies, perhaps equating it to H. fulva, which are an embarrassment to some in spite of all that species gave us in the modern daylilies. Hot tones can be difficult to work into some garden plans, but a garden built around hot colors can grab the eye and excite the senses like nothing else.

Tahitian Landscape Gauguin

Frans Hals by Flory

Drums Along the Mohawk by Moldovan

Insider Trading by Buntyn

Chicago Apache seedling

Texas Feathered Fancy F2 Seedling

H. fulva 'Korean' Apps 

The use of a cool background with highlights of hot tones can be very nice and make a pleasing compromise, so that the garden becomes neither too sedate nor too garish. Whichever tonal family you prefer, or just a random assortment of both, I think few of us could deny that it is color that first drew us to the daylily. Using the complementary colors is an important and useful way to make your most special plants stand out. Purple daylilies look more purple when they are against a background of yellows of an equal tonal value. Red is wonderfully set off by green backgrounds. Orange would require a true blue for the absolute best complimentary background, but since we have no true blue in daylilies, bluish-purples and lavenders can make orange pop even more than it already does in the garden. Of course, everything works and stands out with a white background, which is why it is my favorite background - a neutral that can allow an ever-changing array of tones to be equally pleasing and well set.

A very pleasing combination of warm and cool tones

The red Nona's Garnet Spider makes a hot accent against a backdrop of cool yellow, purple lavender and pink.

Here cool yellow daylilies and purple Monarda make a lovely cool background for the hot tones of the orange and red Stout cultivar Rajah (1935)

Another way to look at and deal with color is to use contrast and tonality. So for instance, one might have a near white background with a near black cultivar as an accent specimen planting, or if you have some midday and afternoon shade, a near black background with some well-placed near white plants as a specimen accent can be quite striking. This use of strongest and most extreme light and dark contrast puts me in mind of my favorite painter, Caravaggio, who made remarkable use of light coming forth from dark backgrounds in much of his work, or Rembrandt, who made a career of beautifully emulating Caravaggio's style. Dark flowers with white edges of teeth or piecrust also remind me of this style of painting.

Saint Catherine by Caravaggio

Men in Black by Petit

Then there are the many plants showing flowers in non-pigment tones such as brown, tan or sand tones, silvered or grayed lavender, or antiqued tones of pink such as dusty rose, old rose or mauve. These non-pigment tones are often called "muddy" by many in the daylily world who fetishize only the pigment tones. I understand why the pigment tones would be popular. They are easy to understand, bright and eye catching and are easy to combine in the average garden. The non-pigment tones are less obvious, subtle and do not have the strong draw-from-across-the-garden of the pigment tones, but they are often interesting and have a place in the garden also. When I look at the color of a daylily flower, what I recognize as "muddy" is when there are three or more pigments at work. Any two pigments can produce an interesting effect that doesn't offend my sense of color theory.

What does offend my sense of color theory is when a dust mauve flower is called "pink", or when a fulvous orange is called "brown", or a silvered, gray lavender is called "purple". They aren't. Call them what they are and own their special uniqueness. To me, it is not something to complain about that we have such an amazing array of tones in daylilies. It is only lamentable when tones consisting of the blending of pigment tones are called a pigment tone. For instance, any orange flower with a slight purple overlay is going to appear to be a "rusty orange" or fulvous. That is not a "muddy orange", because it isn't just orange. It is orange and purple and the combination creates the fulvous effect. We should be thankful to those fulvous precursors in the species fulva, as they likely gave us the purple we have today. I am amazed by the array of colors and color combinations we have in daylilies when I consider that it all arose in just over one hundred years from the fulva complex and the gold to yellow species.

Brown to me is especially special, because it is a difficult color to get right and there are very few so-called brown daylily flowers that are actually brown. Matthew Martin, a reddish brown, and Brown Exotica, a chocolate brown, are two of the best examples of true brown flowers that I have seen besides a few of my own seedlings. They remind me of brown orchids such as some Oncidium and Cymbidium orchids (orchids are related to Hemerocallis, both being in order Asparagales), some irises (also an Asparagales member), leaves in fall, the rich forest floor, good fertile earth, fine wood and leather, and the bark of redwood trees. They are especially nice in subtle garden settings such as sunny edges of a shade garden or in Japanese styled gardens where bright garish colors are not the focus. Against the green backdrop of bamboo, brown flowered daylilies can be very striking.

A Brown Orchid

Brown Exotica by Jamie Gossard

A Brown Exotica Seedling

Another very interesting color found in daylilies is the silvered lavender of such cultivars as Asterisk. These tones - rare, rarely done really well, and rarely the focus of anyone's programs - remind me of smoke, mist, clouds, the moon, an overcast day, the soft gray of pigeons and the subtle colors of some moths. These can make a striking accent to brighter purple cultivars, as well as mixed with near white or near black flowered cultivars. These also have subtle uses, such as in the Japanese garden, and there are many landscape plants that this tone can look very lovely with.

Asterisk by Lambert

An Asterisk Seedling

An amazing array of color possibilities exist in daylilies, and with the introduction of Pigment of Imagination, an even greater range may be at hand, including a range of green, blue and turquoise tones. In addition to individual colors or blends, flowers which change color throughout the day have very interesting applications in the garden and if carefully placed with complimentary companion plants can be a show throughout the day.

Pigment of Imagination by Richard Norris

The 'cleanest' colors are generally a pure pigment tone on a near white or very pale yellow background. "Muddy" colors usually show a layering of colors that produce another color to the human eye, such as an orange layered with purple, which may appear rusty or brownish, yellow layered with pink, which can appear peach, or yellow layered in lavender or purple which can create a grayed effect that some call "dusty". Sometimes these layerings blend well and make a nice tone, even if not a pure pigment tone, other times, they combine in ways that are less than attractive. For my part, any well combined flower color is acceptable and desirable, so long as it is described as something like the visually apparent tone. All well done tones and colors will have an application in some garden design or the other and there is always something out there to make a complimentary companion to that flower. However, I do have my own particular favorite colors and combinations.

Rosy Complexion by John and Annette Rice is a very near white background with bright pigment pinks makes for a very clean, bright pure colored flower.

Here we see pink/lavender over a yellow background in this seedling. The pink/lavender combine with the yellow background to show a overall peach effect with a violet tinge.

The tones that I find difficult are those where a combination such as layerings of yellow, lavender and pink or orange appear, so that there is no actual tone there, but rather just a mashup of tones resulting in an undefinable in-between that is not quite within any color range. You could have all three colors on one flower separately as individually defined colors and that I would find attractive, but when they are all layered together into one dusty ecru/peach/rose/tan/gray toneless mess, I don't care for that. We see these from time to time and they are unattractive. Many of the patterned flowers are particularly prone to this effect, with multiple colors blending and layering into something quite undefinable, with the term 'mud' perhaps being appropriate. One of the most attractive patterns I grow is Four Beasts in One from Di DeCaire, as it is a lovely yellow background with a burgundy and palest yellow patterned eye with hints of near blue especially in the sepals. It is striking from a distance and up close, and the colors do not bleed into each other in such a way as to muddy and blend. It is a happy flower and one I enjoy looking at. It also works well with a wide variety of other flowers because it is made up of distinct colors.

Four Beasts in One by Di DeCaire

It also must be remembered that a given daylily can vary from garden to garden, depending on the soil and micro-climate variations between gardens, while variations in the weather can also cause variation. As one very good example, I will show some observed variations in a seedling. This seedlings is Aztec Headdress x Larry Allen Miller.

First grown in my mother's garden, it flowered like this for the first time in its second year, 2012. It continues to have this look in her garden.

2012 - Mother's Garden

I moved a piece to my garden for hybridizing that fall, after the above picture was taken. It bloomed like this the next year in my garden.

2013 - Hybridizing Garden

In my garden, which is significantly different than my mother's garden, the flower went from the bright, clean pink reverse bicolor we see in the first picture from 2012 to this less clear, much more carotenoid background with a peach/lavender reverse bitone effect in 2013. 

Since then it has tended to show some variation depending on weather conditions, but still stays less clear in my garden and more clear in my mother's garden.
2014 - Hybridizing Garden

2014 - Mother's Garden

2014 - Hybridizing Garden

2015 - Hybridizing Garden

And one random example so far from 2016 in the Hybridizing Garden

So what color do I call such a seedling? And is it a "clean" pink reverse bitone or a "muddy" lavender/peach reverse bitone? Is it both? Is it neither? Which picture would be its registry picture? Which face is its "typical" face? Why do the two garden locations make so much difference in appearance, when they are only a few hundred feet apart? As I said, the soil is very different in both gardens, but why does it cause such a variation in flower color? I don't know.

I have to admit that I like all of its many faces, and while this kind of variability can make trying new daylilies frustrating (because they might not look in one garden as they do in another), I still enjoy seeing each offering this daylily has each day and I enjoy both looks, though I think the look at my mother's house is nicer and more the goal I would want to work toward. I have also seen the first seedling from this seedling this year crossed to Curt Hanson's Slipped My Disco as pollen parent. I hope to see many more seedlings from this clone in time. Who knows what variations it might show in time?

In the next post in this series, we will look at patterns and the influences on the combinations I love and what I think works best in pattern combinations from a color theory perspective.