Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Daylilies, or It's not me, it's you

Have you ever been in a relationship that went much further than you meant for it to go, and at some point you were wondering how it got there? I confess that this describes my relationship with daylilies. I mean, I liked daylilies, but I never went out of my way to buy any, until I caught the daylily bug from littlewing. She had many beautiful daylilies and I begin to see the appeal of spiders and some of the other forms. Before that all I had were the single and double orange daylilies, a pale lilac-pink ordered from Wayside when we lived in Pennsylvania, and a grab bag of daylilies from Lowe's. Ironically latter two were purchased 16+ years ago by DH, who doesn't do much at all in the flower gardens. He's too busy with work and heavy farm projects. Plus, he just doesn't want to do it. lol I don't even remember when the single orange daylilies came from. The doubles I picked up near a pond in my parents' neighborhood where they had been discarded, or set free.

Then I started to buy a few daylilies,

'Ah Youth'

'Meriam White'

and acquired others through trade.

'Lion in Winter'

Lovely yellow noid from a gardener in Greensboro

'Lemon Berry Frost'

'Bleu Celeste'

I even grew some from seed acquired through trade.

'Strawberry Candy x 'Larger Than Life'

'Mokan Butterfly' x 'Mask of Eternity'

'Avante Garde' x 'Maxfield Parrish'

Then I started to divide those, and bought a few more.

'Lavender Deal'

'Lavender Stardust'

I never spent that much on daylilies, because I always bought cheap ones. I went crazy dividing them though. Too crazy, and ended up with a small sea of strappy foliage in the off season.

I also bought some daylilies that now I am not too crazy about, and unfortunately have divided and put all over the garden. The chief ones are 'My Melinda', 'Smuggler's Gold' and some other undistinguished yellows. I have decided that everyone single daylily that I do not just love must come out. Why so draconian? The deer are now unimpressed by my peppermint extract spray, and remained unimpressed even when I added hot sauce -- a LOT of hot sauce. It seems completely insane to spend 45 minutes to 1 hour every night spraying the daylilies anyway.

'My Melinda' is a tall daylily with many-branched scapes and warm, almost coral pink flowers. It's nice enough, but the pink is too warm for my taste and I notice the stalks about as much as the flowers. Spending a lot of time spraying daylilies will make a gardener REAL picky.

'My Melinda' and 'Shady Lady'

'Shady Lady', 'Smuggler's Gold', and 'My Melinda'.

'Ruby Spider' and 'Bleu Celeste' in the foreground, with 'Ah Youth',
'Smuggler's Gold', 'My Melinda', and another 'Ruby Spider' in the background.

There are many daylilies that I love however, 'Ruby Spider', 'Blue Celeste' and 'Ah Youth' among them. 'Chocolate Splash' is one of my favorites, a rich deep chocolately burgundy that looks like brushed velvet. It doesn't really go with the rest of my garden, so I put it and some of my other warmly colored daylilies in a patch by themselves next to a 'Potter's Purple' butterfly bush. Then the deer completely eliminated my color clashing problem by eating all of those daylilies no matter what I tried.

'Sparkling Orange' and 'Chocolate Splash'

In desperation I ordered a motion detection sprinkler to protect the daylilies planted to the east of the house. It's very sensitive at its highest setting and seemed to do the trick, although of course the deer have to be detected BEFORE they start eating the daylilies. So I bought a second one. That should cover the garden east of the house but the rest of the daylilies are probably deer fodder. The sprinkler pulled second duty keeping the deer away from the okra after daylily season. It also zapped a raccoon that was trying to make off with a container of Amdro.

Why do I think the culprit was a raccoon? Opossums aren't that industrious and I hadn't heard any coyotes lately. However, I had recently seen raccoons.

I was down by the old house site spreading compost when I heard a high trilling, rather like an incomplete spring peeper chorus. I started looking around and low and behold there were about there were two raccoons about the third of the way up a pine tree having what appeared to be a tussle. One was trying to bite the leg of the one higher up. I was talking to myself, saying "oh look, raccoons, etc" and "I hope since it's daylight they're not rabid". They hadn't been paying me the slightest attention until the word "rabid" and then both their heads whipped around and they looked at me. They kept a close eye on me after that, switching from side to side in the tree so that they could see me, one stacked right on top of the other. It quickly became apparent that they were littermates, about 2/3rds grown, playing in the tree. There was at least one other youngster in another tree too. And I spied the mama raccoon deeper in the woods, about 50 feet away, staring at me. She actually was a little creepy. lol

A couple of days after that, during the weekend, I saw one of the young raccoons literally high-tailing it down the driveway and jump into the adjacent ditch when it saw DH coming down the driveway with the wheelbarrow. Now I know who used to fling my newly divided iris rhizomes around searching for grubs and earthworms when I saw similar digging patterns around the gardens near the house shortly after seeing these raccoons.

I love all of the daylilies pictured below, with 'Indian Giver' being my very very favorite. It's a slow grower and stingy with its blooms but the flowers are out of this world beautiful.

'Ah Youth'

'Ruby Spider' and 'Bleu Celeste'

'Bleu Celeste'

'Shady Lady'

'Jedi Blue Note'

'Catherine Neal'

'Tar and Feather'

'Desert Master'

'Night Beacon'

'Beautiful Edgings'

'Indian Giver'

So, I can still see the appeal of daylilies. But I need more out of this relationship than chomped stalks. If the motion detection sprinklers aren't good enough, it's over. Still, I was happy to have daylilies in my garden, even if it's not forever.


  1. Daylilies were my first loves and then I discovered wildflowers! I do occasionally purchase a few daylilies~One in particular, 'Autumn Minaret'...It has 6 foot scapes and a simple flower. The deer came along and ate every bud, it seems to have been the perfect height for snacking!

    Your daylilies are stunning. If you have to work hard to keep them from the deer buffet then you need to be a picky as you can!

  2. Some beautiful daylilies, and really nice photos. I especially like Beautiful Edgings and Sparkling Orange. Too bad about the deer, I'm grateful they aren't in my neighborhood. Won't be the first time a good relationship has been broken up by a third party.

  3. What an absolutely wonderful post about daylilies! I so enjoyed reading it and seeing the gorgeous photos of them. My favorites are 'Gentle Shepard', 'Lavender Stardust', 'Beautiful Edgings' and 'Indian Giver'. I have a very similar history like you do with daylilies, except that I got stuck in stage one ;-)! Once a year I buy a variety from the local nursery, because the flower looks lovely on the label. There are no flowers on the dayliliy yet, so I have to rely on what I see on the label and the description that it gives of the flower color. I plant it and sooner or later it blooms and I don't like the color! Like you, I found that many daylilies have very warm color that don't go with the predominately cool color scheme in my garden and actually clash with the roses. So out they come and find a new home in a friends garden.
    Your post has inspired me to make the little extra effort to search for online daylily vendors and get a few varieties from them and see if I can find some that I truly love and that go with my color scheme.
    Really hope your motion detection sprinklers work. It would be too sad if you would have to give up growing daylilies, they just look too lovely in your beautiful gardens! Warm regards,

  4. Your day lilies are gorgeous! I have the old common ditch lilies, planted long years before I arrived. I have never loved them, but at least they look better than the weeds they suppress on the hillside. But you make me want to replace them with all the wonderful colors you have. And I don't have to contend with deer, so I have no excuse. You have inspired me! By the way, we have found raccoons to be inquisitive mess-makers. A family of them were in the big oak tree behind our house a couple years ago. Every time I planted something in a pot, they would tip it over and pull the plant out!

  5. I love to reed your post about the daylilies. Fantastic. Overhere it's told to seperate the plants within a couple of years to keep the plants healthy. If I see how many of them are in your garden it wil cost you a lot of time to do so.
    Have a wonderful day.

  6. I love daylilies! When I started blogging, there were a couple of other bloggers that had tons of daylilies, and I really caught the bug then, adding a few more each year. I usually pick cultivars based on looks, but I can also be enticed by names--I have "Canterbury Tales," for example, and just had to buy "Romeo Lies Bleeding":) But they need to be divided, and I'm trying to figure out where I can go with all the divisions--adding another garden bed wasn't in my plans this year. I love the way you have interplanted yours with monarda and other perennials--it looks like a meadow of daylilies. I don't know how you can part with any of these, but I do sympathize with the deer problem. When something in the garden is that much work and time-consuming, it's time to think about whether it's worth it or not.

  7. I really hope you can hang on to your daylillies - even the cutest critters can be a pain in the arse. I think I like Yellow noid the best.

  8. Even with deer munching away you manage to have an amazing display of daylilies. I never seem to choose the right pink. You have an abundance of great pinks. I love the bluer pinks like 'Lavender Stardust' and think I should watch for the word lavender in the name or description as I favour the cooler shades of pink.
    Your raccoon story was funny. We had a mom and 2 young ones here that would raid the garbage cans every Thursday night. They really were quite bold about it.

  9. I think I just did an about-face on daylilies, thanks to this post. I just finished posting on someone else's blog that I agreed with him that daylilies were boring, and that I only grew them because they were easy (the deer haven't eaten mine, maybe because they have so much else to keep them happy). I recently got the Oakes Daylily catalog and decided everything was garish and fake-looking. Now I see the photos in your garden, and I want to order every single one!

  10. Just a lovely daylilies! Very beautiful pictures!

  11. Your lilies are gorgeous but an hour a night is A LOT! I can never remember the names of mine, even though I can remember all sorts of other odd botanical information. I have a lot, too, but not nearly as many as you do. I gave away several wheelbarrow fulls last summer when I finally realized that unless we received an inch of rain a day, they were never going to be happy in their spot. Fortunately, all my friends cared about where their colors, red and pink. :o)

  12. Your 'Ah Youth' and 'Gentle Shepard' at the top of your post took my breath away. I thought I had a problem with daylilies but, based on your post, you have me beat a hundred-fold. Of course, I didn't grow any until we moved to our current, sunny garden 3 years ago so maybe there's still time for me to catch up. I inherited about 40 clumps of a red/orange variety, possibly 'Sammy Russell.' However, a dormant variety like this didn't satisfy me as they left holes in the garden and, with our year-round gardening potential, I went looking for evergreen varieties. Now I have more than a dozen evergreen and semi-evergreen varieties, which I've divided. 'Indian Giver' was my most recent splurge so I glad to hear you give it a thumbs-up. My best performers so far are 'Spanish Harlem" (which appears to be similar to your 'Chocolate Splash' and 'Persian Market,' which I originally received as a gift with purchase. I'm ready to dig up some of the others, which haven't proven they're worth the garden space. Thank goodness I don't have to contend with deer - I hope your current methods are successful in sending them packing. As to the raccoons, good luck there - I've never found a 100% effective method of controlling their thievery and destructive inclinations.

  13. A great post, very thoughtful, along with beautiful photos. I have the 'Indian Giver' also--you said it, stingy but gorgeous. I had quite a few different Hems for a while, and decided to just reduce to 3 or 4 favorites repeated in different areas instead. A favorite is 'Victorian Lace'. But I don't have your luxury of space--or those nasty deer...

  14. I have that relationship with Amaryllis!!! Can't seem to ever stop accumulating them. I haven't ever gotten into daylilies but I've seen a few on your blog from time to time (& a couple here) that have tempted me. Still resisting tho. Those raccoons can really be destructive. I know they are just trying to live too but they do the same in my garden.


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