Happy 4th of July

July means day lilies (hemerocallis), and today the fireworks are just beginning to explode into bloom.  These are my favorite flowers.  As much as I love hydrangeas and my hansa roses, it is the day lilies that charm me the most.  The name “hemerocallis” means “bloom for a day” and that’s pretty much what day lilies do.  And, they do not actually belong to the lily family.

The Garden Lady stands sentinel in the day lily bed.
The Garden Lady stands sentinel in the day lily bed. That is Sea Urchin blooming to the left.  Red Rum is in the background.

It was colonists who brought day lilies to the New World, but it wasn’t until the 1930’s that hybridization really began. For centuries gardeners grew what are often referred to as “ditch lilies.”  These are the common orange flowers that we see growing wild along country roads, in old homestead sites, and in sunny meadows.  But those bright orange or sometimes yellow flowers are not native to North America.  They probably came to Europeans from China and other Asian countries where various parts of the plant were valued for their medicinal qualities.  Settlers carried day lily plants on horseback and in covered wagons across the North American continent.

Blooming today in the Secret Garden are Cystal Pinot, First Night, Sea Urchin, a nameless deep plum plant, and Red Rum.

But it’s not just day lilies that are gracing the garden.  Scroll down to see other shots.

The little miniature hostas that I bought a year ago are nestled near the back door.
The little miniature hostas that I bought a year ago are nestled near the back door.
Great Expectations, Francee, Stained Glass, and June are draping over the Secret Garden path, an indication that I really must thin these.
Great Expectations, Francee, Stained Glass, and June are draping over the Secret Garden path, an indication that I really must thin these.
This sunny path shows the Jean Davis lavender and Zagreb coreopsis.
This sunny path shows the Jean Davis lavender and Zagreb coreopsis.  In the foreground is First Knight about to bloom.
The red carpet rose provides a nice pop of color in the seating area of the Secret Garden.
The red carpet rose provides a nice pop of color in the seating area of the Secret Garden. That is Red Rum in the foreground to the right and Zagreb coreopsis in the left center.
The Crazy Daisy hasn't done well for the past couple of years, but it looked like it might be returning to health this year.  Until it flopped over.  Ergggg.
The Crazy Daisy hasn’t done well for the past couple of years, but it looked like it might be returning to health this year. Until it flopped over. Ergggg.
This Annabelle Hydrangea seems to be very happy this summer.  This is such a pleasant change.  Last summer's heat and drought didn't make for happy mop heads of bloom.
This Annabelle Hydrangea seems to be very happy this summer. This is such a pleasant change. Last summer’s heat and drought didn’t make for happy mop heads of bloom.
First Knight
First Knight
Nameless plum day lily that I bought a couple years ago that the Fulton Street Market.
Nameless plum day lily that I bought a couple years ago that the Fulton Street Market.
Crystal Pinot
Crystal Pinot
Red Rum
Red Rum

Everything’s Coming Up Lilies (and Daisies)

It’s July and the garden is bursting with bees and blossoms.  Oh, and Japanese Beetles.  I found a bunch of them copulating on the Virginia Creeper.  I decided to keep a respectful distance, mostly because they can chew the virginia creeper to their little beetle-heart’s content.  I did look at the hansa roses, though, and discovered bunches of lewd beetles there, too.

But it’s day lily season.  This is my favorite time in the garden, when the day lilies start to bloom.  I have most of the lilies grouped together around my Garden Lady.

Day Lilies and the Garden Lady

If I have things planned right, I should get a month of blooms.  The early lilies are in the middle of their bloom cycle.  The pale yellow lilies to the right of this photo are one of the few things I kept from the previous owner’s garden.  In fact, I now have several clumps of these in different gardens.  The bright red to the right of the lady is crocosmia.

Lavender Stardust

Below is Lavender Stardust, a lily I selected because of its name.  How could I not have Lavender Stardust in my garden.   This, like many of the lilies in this bed, was added late last summer.

The queen, though, is the un-named dark, dark red lily that I bought perhaps seven years ago and planted in my previous garden.  It represents for me a continuity.  And my affection for it is bound up in the story of where I found it, the distance I had to travel to get it, take it home, and then take it again when I moved to this house.   I remember that first summer when I faced a shabby house and a shabbier yard, overgrown with weeds, neglect, and poor planning.  So, I look at this dark, dark red lily and remember that I healed it into that shabby front yard, then moved it to the side yard when the front landscaping took place.  Then I moved it to the back yard.  And finally, two summers ago, moved to its place of honor in front of the Garden Lady.  It is the first lily I see when I enter the garden.

Dark, Dark Red Day Lily
Entrance to the Secret Garden

But there is more than just day lilies blooming.  The Crazy Daisies are tall and lush and host to lots of buzzing things.  And a few butterflies.  Too bad this little swallowtail wouldn’t open his wings for the camera.

Crazy Daisy and Friend

And the Annabelle Hydrangea seems to like this spot at the entrance of the Secret Garden. It replaces a very old and very large lilac bush that was so fragrant when it bloomed, but so ungainly and overgrown when it wasn’t blooming.  It was really nothing more than a huge thicket.  And though I used to get huge bouquets from it, I had to remove it.  I know the Annabelle will fill part of that space.  And I’ve planted two caryopteris in front of it.  Those should get quite large, too.  And I’ve planted other lilacs, so I will get more bouquets.

Annabelle Hydrangea