For color and interest all summer long, daylilies are hard to beat.
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The most popular daylily in the world today, and deservedly so, is Stella de Oro, which is not a true dwarf but reaches only 15 to 20 inches in bloom. What makes it such a winner? Well, it starts blooming mid-June and continues flowering into midsummer, which, according to White Flower Farm, makes it the all-time blooming champion among daylilies. Blossoms are a rich golden yellow and petals crimped around the edges. In brief, it’s a charmer.
I had an unhappy experience with it, not because of the plant but because of the purveyor, but it has had a happy ending. I bought three plants by mail order—they were costly—last spring from a nursery that shall remain nameless, and was sent two puny plants with a couple of threads for roots. I never thought they’d live, let alone blossom, but my stars, they did both. Only one or two flowers, of course, but by fall they’d fattened up, and this year they should be better.
Three other low-growers—Little Much, a ruffled lemon-yellow, Bonanza, a yellow-and-bronze bicolor, and Small Ways, a lemon-yellow brushed peach—get to about 20 to 24 inches, which is still short for daylilies. (Most rise from 24 to 40 inches.) The first two start to blossom in July, the last from Aug. 1 to Sept. 1, so they’re nice for continuing bloom from the front to the middle of the border.
So many exquisite daylilies bloom from July on, it’s terribly—no, wonderfully—hard to pick and choose. Do look through the catalogs. Better still, check your local nurseries and see what you like. Try, try, to get to the New York Botanical Gardens in July. Dr. Stout’s collection has been marvelously augmented and the spectacle is dazzling.
As landscaping material, daylilies can be used in many, many ways. They make a fine grouping in a perennial border, serve strikingly as accent points when clustered together, hold banks in place when planted close together, face down trees, soften foundation plantings, edge pathways, ribbon a stream, mark off lawns and more. In my opinion, they’re best massed together in groups of a single color family. Not for me the mixed-color collections the catalogs try to sell. I find each color story too special for that. A friend planted a thousand of the wild orange fulva along a quarter mile of a river bank in Roxbury. (She advertised for them in the local paper, and a farmer brought her a fieldful.) What a show all that orange makes! Another friend, in Armonk, N.Y., beautified a lumpy, bumpy meadow with varied shades of yellow daylilies. The plants totally mask the uneven earth and dazzle with their yellow blooms. In Danbury I’ve circled daylilies—by color—around big rocks, each tumble of granite softened and brightened by one surrounding color, one in peach tones, one in orange, another in yellows, yet another bright golds.
I’ve also used daylilies in a giant circle so that they solidly ring a thick-trunked tulip tree. The circle is big enough for me to have used several colors, but always with groupings of at least three plants of the same kind. The circle shades from yellow to pink to gold, and to yellow again.
There’s one more daylily I yearn for—a diploid called Prairie blue Eyes. Its flowers are pure lavender-blue highlighted by a clear yellow throat. Ah, someday.