A Star in the Garden
A Star in the Garden
The glory of the daylily is not just in its many wonderful colors, or in its many flowers over a long period of summer, but also is to be found in its form. There are many forms that are recognized by the American Hemerocallis Society, and I highly recommend you take a look at their website for more information. Having grown daylilies for over forty years, I have had the opportunity to think a lot about their many forms. I was never that influenced by the trends in the daylily world, growing what I liked that had come my way and then did well for me. Through that experience, I came to love the star-shaped form and its many variations. The star-shaped form is not an official form as per AHS definition, but is a sub-form of any of the other defined flower forms. This sub-form is called 'Star' or 'Star-form' in the AHS dictionary. This sub-form can occur combined with any of the other forms or sub-forms, allowing for a lot of potential within the star-shaped sub-form.
About the sub-categories, the AHS Dictionary says, "Other terms used to describe flower shapes, such as "circular", "flat", "informal" "recurved", "star", "triangular", and "trumpet" are called "sub-forms"." And, further, star sub-form is described as, "When viewed from the front of the bloom, the flower segments tend to be long and pointed. There is space between the segments, and the shape looks like a three-pointed or six pointed star." So the typical definition of 'Star' form is "long and pointed petals and sepals, spaces between the segments, and a "shape like a three or six-pointed star.
My love affair with the star shaped flower, with its interesting potential for patterns, has been ongoing for a long time. The first daylilies I was exposed to was H. fulva 'Europa' forma with its lovely star shaped flowers. Later favorites included such daylilies as Frans Hals and Linda.
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The earliest obsession I had with daylily flowers involved eyes. I was always more excited by eyes than by self colored flowers, though in time through landscaping I came to have a high appreciation of self-colored flowers for use as background color in the landscape. While I can appreciate every type of daylily, my first love was the star shape with an eye, and I still have a tendency to be more drawn in this direction. The eye can also for a star-pattern, whether the flower is star-shaped or not. I have been mentioning the star-shape and star-pattern here at this blog since its inception, featuring many cultivar pictures with variations of this shape and/or eye since I began this blog in May 2011, here and here. In the summer of 2016 I wrote a series of blog posts on The Daylily As Art. In that series I spoke about the star-shaped flower form and eye-pattern in the post on 'Simple Patterns'.
Below are pictures of several favorite star-shaped flower cultivars that I have grown. Some of these I have grown for many years. Some of these have a star-patterned eye, while some show a star-shaped form and others show a combination of star-shaped form and eye-patterning.
Gardner S. Smiley
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The very first eyed daylily I encountered that really showed off the petal and sepal bands well was Radiant Greeting by Wild (1975), which I first grew in the 1980s. I grew many older eyed forms after Radiant Greeting. Navajo Princess was my first departure from the six-pointed star and toward the three pointed star. I have grown Navajo Princess since 1996. Navajo Princess combines recurving with wider petals to allow the sepal pattern to be partially or fully covered to be covered, and the flower is quite round through the petals and sepals rolling under, allowing the eye to show on the petals, creating a near-perfect triangle. These are now often referred to as "Prisms" or prism eyes. In time I have come to appreciate both three-pointed and six-pointed star eyes, but my preference is toward narrower petals that allow the sepals (and thus the sepal eye pattern) to show, creating the perfect six-pointed star.
A seedling (above) showing the full six-pointed star created through narrowness of the petals within the closure at the base of the flower, allowing much of the sepal to be exposed within the closure of the flower and thus the full eye is expressed on both petals and sepals.
While narrowness helps to make this effect, it is not essential to creating a six-pointed star. As you can see in the seedling below, the petals can be considerably wider and still produce a lovely six-pointed star eye, but that flower is no longer star-shaped and is heading more toward round. So the star made from the eye and the star-shaped sub-form are not the same thing, but they can be used to accent or interact with each other.
Further, it is important to remember that while three and six-pointed stars can be made through the covering or uncovering of the sepals when an eye is present, both three and six-pointed stars can be made from form alone, with no eye present, on self-colored flowers. These self-colored, star-shaped flowers can occur in both three and six-pointed forms. Many intermediates are then possible, allowing for a wide range of form variations on the self-colored flowers.
To me, this old Gilbert H. Wild introduction (above) is a wonderful example of a self-colored, three-pointed star-formed flower. The lovely combination of pink and what appears to be a melon base makes for an ice-cool coloring effect in a large clump. I have grown this plant for over thirty years and have been delighted year after year by its triangular form. It seems to me that this form is created through the generally open petals and generally recurved sepals.
A variation of the three-pointed form is the type where the sepals do not recurve, but the petals do recurve. I have to say that when this form looks good, I am quite enamored of it. The seedling above consistently shows this form, though occasionally the sepals recurve, as well. Note with both of the above flowers that if either had an eye or band, they could have three or six-pointed star patterns as well as their triangular, three-pointed star form. When a band is present, for instance, on a three or six-pointed star-formed flower, the eye pattern will be triangular, with three obvious, defined points. When sepals also show a band, so that a flower has an eye (i.e., both sepals and petals show the eye-band), there are six visible points, unless the petals cover the sepals. So a three-pointed star-formed flower of either of the two above types could have a six-pointed star patterned eye, just as any six-pointed star-formed flower could have a three-pointed star-patterned eye due to only having a band and thus no points on the sepals. I think it is important to define the star-form first, and then whether there is an eye or not. If there is an eye, then define whether that band or eye makes a three or six-pointed star-patterned eye.
The species for the most part all have a somewhat star-shaped flower. In fact, I might would venture to say that the star-shape IS the wildtype form. I think for this reason, maybe people have overlooked it in favor of wider petals (round and ruffled) or narrower petals (spiders). In truth, many daylilies with the star-shaped flower simply fall into the major category of 'Single', as defined by AHS. As per that definition - "Daylily flowers that have three petals, three sepals, six stamens and one pistil (comprised of three carpels) are known as "single" daylilies."
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Some of the species have particularly lovely star-shaped flowers. This gives us a lot of material to work with at the species-level for creating new and fancy types of star-shaped flowering cultivars. I suspect that there is an easy association between the "wildtype" flower form and the general neglect that star-shaped flowers have been shown by daylily breeders. While there are some notable star-shaped cultivars, I think they are seen as "old-fashioned" or "unmodified", perhaps even in a subconscious way, through comparison to wider or more narrow hybrid phenotypes.
H. 'fulva 'Hankow' showing its lovely recurved star-shaped flowers.
F1 from (H. fulva 'Europa' x Ed Murray).
The star-shaped sub-form is a main theme in many of my foundational lines. This is through the use of species, as well as the selection of star-shaped hybrid cultivars, and selection toward this type, whether conscious or sub-conscious, in the seedling bed. I am certain both are at work, because I will often find myself drawn to the star-shaped flowers, in terms of flower form, and the star-eyed types in terms of pattern. The ideal is to combine the two, though I do have a great love for the star-shaped form with pale self-colored flowers, as well. But seeing as eyes are such an obsession for me, the logical course is to play with the variations of the star form, with the majority of the program showing eyes of some kind or another, and so also combining the star pattern.
Already, several of my introductions show the star-shaped form or eye-pattern. This will continue to be a prominent theme for me. I am seeing seedlings in both star-formed and star-patterned eyes, and I am beginning to see some interesting combinations of the form and pattern.
Vorlon Encounter Suit
Ziggy Played Guitar
The Spice Must Flow is slightly too wide in the closure to make a great six-pointed star. It does have more narrow days, sometimes from being structurally more narrow, and other times from showing mild canoeing, as in the first picture above, which shows a nice, six-pointed star through revealing the tips of the throat on the sepals. The second picture above is more typical and could be widely considered a three-pointed star band with partial points on sepals creating more of a radiant triangle that a full hexagonal form.
At any rate, The Spice Must Flow descends from star-shaped parents and produces a lot of star-shaped kids, in addition to creating fuller-formed and more narrow petaled offspring. With Implausibility, the star-shaped flower of H. fulva is present in the mix. The pollen parent, Bali Watercolor, has been used widely to create a number of interesting star-shaped flowering cultivars. Jamie Gossard has used Bali Watercolor extensively and has made several nice introduction descending from it, including Aliens in the Garden. Bali Watercolor is a great source for star-shape and interesting patterning, as well as intensely saturated colors.
The lovely star-shaped pink seedling in the image above and below, with its generous ruffling and interesting eye patterning, which creates a six-pointed star in shape, and nearly a six-pointed star in eye-pattern. Like The Spice Must Flow, this seedling is a little wider in the closure than I prefer for a star-patterned eye, but the overall form of the flower, which does make the six-pointed star form, is one of my favorites.
A six-pointed, star-shaped 'The Spice Must Flow' seedling
A more narrow 'The Spice Must Flow' seedling
A fuller formed 'The Spice Must Flow' seedling showing considerable widening of the petals, extreme substance and ruffling. The flower is fairly large with a big impact in person.
A star-shaped 'The Spice Must Flow' seedling in a bright pink with a lovely bright eye with patterning, but the eye doesn't really form much of a star, though the eye/throat is still radiant and lovely. The form is a true six-pointed star, though.
A favorite 'The Spice Must Flow' seedling. This one shows the star-shaped form very nicely, making a pleasing six-pointed star form. The eye and patterning are getting close to a fully six-pointed star eye. The pattern on the sepals is lovely and they make the three points that are most defined. The throat below the eye on the petals is less pointed, with patterning in rows of color truncating the perfect three points within the throat. It still makes a six-pointed star though when the eye is viewed from the end of the band on the sepals and petals. This seedling suggests to me that 'The Spice Must Flow' has excellent potential to breed for refined star-shaped forms and eye-patterns.
Eos At Dawn
'Eos At Dawn' is a self-colored flower that shows the star-shaped form. On some flowers the star is three-pointed due to the sepals recurving, while on others it is six-pointed when the sepals and petals all flair out. The closure is a little full. This covers the base of the sepals, so only part of the throat is visible as rays over the petals. The throat and barely-visible eye form a three-pointed star so that the tips of the throats on the sepals can occasionally give the hint of a six-pointed star, but more often than not the appearance is a triangular, three-pointed star on the petals with radiance. When the sepals roll back strongly, the triangular look of the throat is accentuated and the form becomes more of a three-pointed form as well.
Features the cryptic three-pointed star throat and eye made by overlapping petals that bring the eye bands together to form a triangle. I call it 'cryptic' because it does not start the day this way, fading to this effect through the day from a nearly self-colored orange in the morning. The form of the flower itself can look very triangular.
Temple Of Bacchus
is a six-pointed star form and shows a three-pointed star by having an eye band on the petals but no band on the sepals.
shows the six-pointed star form and frequently achieves a strong six-pointed star eye-pattern on both petals and sepals.
Below are a few seedlings, and perhaps some potential future introductions, from my program showing the star, some in the flower form, some in the eye-pattern, and some through both.
I look forward to working with the star-shaped flowers and the star-patterned eyes for a long time to come.
I am also very pleased to be able to mention that Di DeCaire has recently publicly announced her new 'Wingman' series of daylilies at her blog Dormant Daylily Patterns with her 2019 introduction of 'Wingman'. This series of daylilies will feature "Large, 7.5" or more, open-form flowers. When patterns are not evident in temperatures above 90 degrees, the colors and forms will be pleasing in their own right... Mummies will furl neatly, eliminating the need for constant deadheading. This requires breeding for a more streamlined, naturalistic flower form."
I have spoken with Di about this flower form in the past and had known she was working on it for some years now. I am extremely pleased to see her begin to unveil the line! I am especially excited for my own selfish reasons: Di's fine eye for both pattern/flower qualities and plant traits means I can expect some very good and very useful introductions over the coming years! Go check out her site: Dormant Pattern Daylilies
...and keep an eye out at Sun Dragon Daylilies or the DaylilyBReeder blog for updates on the star-shaped and star-patterned types, and future introductions.