Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Daylily as Art - Part 6 Form 3

The Daylily as Art

Influences on Plant and Flower Aesthetics from Nature, the Arts, Fashion and Pop Culture
Part 6 - Forms - Additive and Complex

We have looked at the basic species forms and the more commonly seen or standard forms of the domestic hybrid daylily population. In this installment, we will look at some of the more advanced form traits such as Flat formed flowers, Sculpting, Doubles and formed Edges. 

Please bear in mind that in this series I am only seeking to express my personal interests and opinions - my own aesthetic - about which colors/forms that I prefer. I have sought to explain why, citing the influences that color my perceptions. Nothing I say here is in any way, form or fashion meant to impinge on your aesthetic sense or influence what you do or do not like, nor to imply what you should or should not breed and select for. This series has been prepared merely to allow a space where I can express my artistic interests and illustrate why (and from where) those interests derive. 

This series represents a singular vision (mine) and I have to believe there are as many singular and unique visions as there are daylily breeders. I encourage everyone to find their own influences, to apply those influences into their own programs in whatever way they see fit and to create truly unique, interesting and admirable lineages for themselves. There are literally hundreds, perhaps thousands, of daylily breeders, and so there is much room for many visions. If you don't like my vision, please go create your own. If you do like my vision and are influenced by it, please take any aspect that suits you and modify it, tailoring it to your own unique self - your own special inner vision that gives you joy and expresses your own unique creativity. 

Flat Form
Substantial Evidence

I have to say that I really love this type of flower. This type is exemplified by the cultivar Substantial Evidence, but the style existed before its introduction. One of the ancestors of Substantial Evidence is Lights of Detroit, which for many years was thought of as 'the flattest' of them all, but there are also several of the 'Siloam' yellow introductions that show this style nearly as well developed (Siloam Medallion, Siloam Golden Gate, Siloam Mama, etc.). From the conversion of Siloam Medallion, other well-known flat formed tetraploids have been introduced, such as Butter Cream, Solar Music, Planet Claire and Parabola. 

Having grown all of these, I will have to say that I find Substantial Evidence to be the flattest of the group, and to most consistently be flat, but it is only a bit more, just an advancement over the flatness of the earlier Siloam types and their tetraploid descendants through conversions. So let me define what I mean, exactly, by flat.

The key to the flat flower is that there is little to no "trumpet" at the base of the flower (throat). Even modern hybrids with very open flowers will show a slight bit of "trumpet" as the base of the flower, where the petals emerge from the ovary at the connection of the flower to the branch or the area we might refer to as the throat. If you look at such cultivars from the side, you will see that a "trumpet" emerges from the ovary and then the petals and sepals fold outward from that "trumpet", becoming opened and flat above that small "trumpet" usually an inch or so past the ovary. You might also say that these types show a distinct trumpet shaped throat.

The true flat flowers show this "trumpet" at the base of the flower more flattened and open, so that there is little to no throat. They all usually have some slight "trumpet", but are noticeably reduced in comparison to even so-called "open" modern cultivars. The most extreme examples can show little to no trumpet at all, with the petals folding outward above the ovary, allowing the petals to lay back open and flat. This reveals the entire throat, opening it and makes the flowers appear larger than they would be otherwise, even with no actual extra petal tissue at all. They also appear to have extended throats for this reason, when viewed from the front, and eyes or any patterns present seem to be extended further up the petal. For me, this opened-up throat allows a wider 'canvas' upon which to work our art, while also creating apparently larger flowers without actually increasing the petal size. 

I love the work that has been done on making very large flat flowers, but one drawback I find is that these absolutely must be deadheaded, often leaving a gooey, sticky mess sprawled all over the next days flowers and other buds when the large, flat flower wilts down after its day of glory. I have worked with smaller flowers in my flat projects, looking into several different directions with smaller and medium flat flowers. I still have a few large flowered flat select seedlings though, of course.

These flat flowers remind me of many things. From nature, I see the moon and sun (when the petals are wide and the colors are right), the collar of the Frilled Dragon lizard, the tail of the peacock and turkey, and the oceanic Sunfish. In domestic animals, I see the flat fantails of pigeons, and I specialized in breeding flat tails in my chickens much like those seen in the pigeons, so that is a given parallel. I also see the flattened, rounded tail (caudal fin) of some goldfish breeds such as Tosakin and butterfly tails. In domestic flowers, these flat forms can remind me of pansy flowers and fancy hibiscus flowers. A major influence in my mind from history and fashion is the Elizabethan ruff collar, popular with men and women of the time, and the drum Farthingale underskirt also popular in the Elizabethan English fashion panoply. 



Frilled Dragon

Art interpretation of a Peacock

Wild Turkey Tom

Fantail Pigeon

One of my favorite fantailed roosters from my old breeding lines.

Fantailed Serama male, front view

The same fantailed Serama male, rear view of fantail. 

Fantailed Langshan male

Tosakin goldfish



Bette Davis as Elizabeth Tudor with a large ruff collar

Cate Blanchett as Elizabeth Tudor in an extravagant ruff collar

Lady Gaga in a large ruff collar in red latex of Elizabethan influence

Portrait of Elizabeth Tudor in dress with drum farthingale

The top-piece of the drum farthingale - the underskirt support for farthingale dresses

These many flat objects, from nature and fashion, heavily influence the way I see these flat formed flowers. I find that my tastes seem to fall into the same major, basic forms in anything that interests me. It is almost as if the forms themselves are archetypal. I tend to think it is just that there are only so many basic shapes and I tend toward certain basic shapes and their combinations.


Planet Claire

Siloam Mama

Solar Music

Siloam Medallion

Ida Mae Norris

Substantial Evidence seedling

Substantial Evidence seedling

Substantial Evidence seedling 
(stamens removed for breeding)

Love Comforts the Soul

Sculpting is one of the newest categories in daylily flower forms. There are three main categories in this class; pleating (as in the picture of Love Comforts the Soul, above), relief (as in such cultivars as Supreme Empire) and cristation (as in such cultivars as Texas Feathered Fancy). 

Supreme Empire

The pleated types have folds from the throat outward wherein the petals fold around the back. Some of these also have the petals lifted upward into a iris-like shape, while the sepals are not lifted upwards.

Pleated cultivar Mork and Mindy

Relief forms have raised, textural ridges that come out of the throat and extend onto the petals. These are often found on very round, ruffled type flowers with very thick substance.

Relief cultivar Pockets Full of Sunshine

Cristate forms come in two basic types, one that shows a raised flare or flange of tissue coming out of the throat on each side of the midrib, while the second type shows a flare or flange of petal tissue rising as a single structure on the midrib itself. Some of the first type I listed also show more than two projections, some so numerous and full that they almost appear to be doubles. My personal taste in these is toward the two simple projections on each side of the midrib.

A second generation seedling {(Texas Feathered Fancy x Olaf the Conqueror) x (Texas Feathered Fancy x Lavender Blue Baby)} on FFO showing the simple, two-pronged cristation on all three petals

I find all of these forms attractive, especially the pleated, the relief and the simple, two-pronged cristates. With my strong interest in art, sculpture is a natural love for me. From both art and history, sculpture has a long history in the story of humanity. However, I see more than just sculpture. I see structure. I see natural themes - bird feathers, the skin of such animals as elephants, rhinos and some reptiles, snake or lizard tongues, smile lines, many flower genera (especially iris, a relative of the Hemerocallis also part of the order asparagales), some tree barks, geological effects, waves, mountain ranges and running water. I also see fashion - pleats, gathers, folds, textures, quilting, flares, frills, ribbing, beading, embroidery, historical gowns and historical men's padded garments. In art, I see similarities to origami and some forms of modern sculpture such as the work of Pablo Picasso, as just one example.

The pleated forms first and foremost remind me of iris flowers, especially when the petals are raised upwards. There are numerous allusions to various fashions, pleats being obvious. Origami is another obvious analogy, and some modern sculpture also makes me think of this style. However, more than anything, I see the iris flower in these types, and that has strongly influenced my interest and approach to them. The essence of these for me is three-dimensional form.

Iris germanica 'Tea Leaves'

Pleated skirt on 18th century French court dress

Folded skirt bustle on 19th century Worth gown

Origami crane

Picasso sculpture

Iris germanica 'Jean Cayeux'

Iris germanica seedling

The relief forms are fascinating. They derive in large part from the flat formed types such as Supreme Empire, which is a seedling of the tetraploid conversion of Siloam Medallion. They also tend to all be round petalled types with ruffling. The essence of this type for me is texture. They are lovely and remind me of some types of tree bark, geological effects (especially those involving water weathering of rock), wrinkled or ridged hide, tufted upholstery, mountain ranges and river systems, flowing water or waves and gathered, textural, quilted, flared, beaded, or heavily embroidered fabrics and garments.

Green Ash bark

Water (wave) erosion on coastline

Mountain weathering

Roots and eroded soil

Elephant skin

Rhino skin

Ridges of spikes in rows down alligator's back

Tufted upholstery couch

Ridge line of mountain

Aerial view of Amazon river delta

Falling water

Rolling waves

Gathered bustle gown

Padded and quilted man's doublet

Closeup details of quilting and pleated collar ruff

Heavily embroidered and beaded French court gown

Another embroidered and beaded French court gown

The cristate types remind me first and foremost of birds, both individual feathers and the tails of some bird species. This is in part because the first of these that I ever saw was Texas Feathered Fancy, and my own breeding lines of this two-pronged style of cristate all descend directly from Texas Feathered Fancy, but also because I actually see the similarity to feathers in both the types of cristates. Obviously, I am not the first to see that. Both the types of cristate also remind me of the so-called 'space age' irises which have horns, spoons and flounces rising off the petals. However, the double-pronged cristates also remind me of the tails of 'lyretail' tropical fish such as guppies, mollies or swordtails, as well as snake tongues, lizard tongues and dragon horns. The essence of this type for me is single or dual projections.

An illustration of a lavender feather

A barn swallow illustration showing the split tail characteristic of the species

Swallow-tailed kite

Scissor-tailed kite

Swallow-tailed Hummingbird

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Many male chickens (roosters) have two main sickle feathers that are very prominent, as in these Serama males I owned in the past
The Le Fleche breed of chicken shows a V-comb, as do a handful of other chicken breeds, which is reminiscent of the two-pronged cristate. This breed was popularly called 'Devil head' in France.

Iris germanica showing frills on the petals, which are visually quite similar to the midrib cristation

A lyretail guppy

A python snake with tongue extended

A Komodo dragon with tongue extended

Lavender dragon art featuring prominent horns

H. fulva 'Kwanso'

Doubling is the only advanced form variation that may occur in the species clones, with the fulva complex offering two distinct doubles: Kwanso and Flore Pleno. There are two types of doubling. One is stamen transformation, where the stamens are transformed into petals as we see in the picture above of Kwanso. The other is called 'hose-in-hose' doubling and it is actual extra sets of petals without the stamens being effected.

A seedling showing hose-in-hose doubling with perfectly formed (and fertile) stamens and pistil

The doubles are not a big focus for me, with the hose-in-hose being my favorite, but I do have examples of both types. 

These, obviously, remind me of many types of double-petalled flowers. I think the double-flowered lilium, especially the tiger lily, are quite reminiscent of the double daylilies. The stamen-transformation daylilies are rather reminiscent of double flowered peonies, which also incorporate stamen transformation. There are several types of double flowers in peonies. Some of them do not transform the stamens, but show multiple layers of petals, as in the hose-in-hose daylilies. 

The creation of double-flowered unusual form daylilies and spider type daylilies is very interesting, with much potential for future development. Some of these remind me of Hydra, Medusa's hair and sea anemones. 

Stamen-transformation double flowered peony

Double flowered tree peony without stamen transformation


Tooth and Nail

Ok, so I have to admit that I LOVE edges. They add to the complexity and I love complexity. That isn't to say that I don't love daylilies without fancy edges, but the edges are very attractive to me.

There are three major types of edges that I quite like - Ruffles, Piecrust and Teeth. Of these my two favorites are ruffles and teeth, with teeth being my very favorite. 

The ruffles are elegant, feminine and soft, and remind me of ruffles from fashion. The piecrust feels very much like rococo architectural edging or heavy garment edging or embroidery. Teeth make me think of nature, of predators of all kinds: bird's beaks and talons, carnivore's teeth and claws, the quills of porcupine and sea urchins, the fangs of snakes and even spikes seen on some few snake species, horns and frills on some lizards, the teeth of crocodiles and alligators and the horns and tusks of many large herbivores. However, teeth also remind me of spiked hair, overdone false eyelashes, spiked leather garments, the thorns of cacti, roses and many shrubs and trees, broken glass and icicles. Last but not least, of course, are the spines and spikes of the mythical dragon.

Pink ruffled gown

Pink ruffled diploid Hush Little Baby

Rococo mirror edging

Clean Slate

Gold braided jacket

Belle of Ashwood

Raptor beak

Raptor talons

Black panther teeth


Sea Urchin

Viper with horns

Iguana with spiny back 

Alligator teeth

Cow horns

Elephant tusks

Spiked Hair

Large false eyelashes

Spiked leather jacket

Cactus thorns

Rose thorns

Honey locust tree thorns

Broken glass

Icicles hanging from roof eaves

Dragon statues

Fortune's Dearest

Tooth and Nail

Mort Morss

Shattered Glass

We are swiftly coming to the end of this series. Next time we will look at the aesthetic influences that have formed my tastes and opinions in regards to the daylily plant, the scapes, branches and bud count, flowers sizes and performance.