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.
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.
They are, of course, my favorites. A couple decades ago I was happy with the orange ditch lilies that someone gave me. I then moved on to some orange double day lilies that a friend gave me. From there I went to what my elderly neighbor called lemon lilies. It was at Meijer Garden that I saw my first pink day lily. There was no going back after that.
Our weeks of heat haven’t seemed to bother the day lilies.
First Knight is my favorite, though I never thought I’d say that about a yellow daylily. First Knight was introduced in 1995 and is a tetraploid, meaning it has four sets of chromosomes. Tetraploids tend to be larger and the flower colors are usually more intense.
Another tetraploid (and another favorite) is Storm of the Century.
Barbara Mitchell is a diploid daylily that has soft peach petals. The picture on the tag showed it to be a bluer pink, which is what I prefer, but Barbara sends out large scapes and large flowers that show up well against the red crocosmia.
Near Barbara Mitchell is Georgette Belden. This tetraploid was introduced in 1979. The flower has an interesting texture.
Crystal Pinot was hybridized in 2006. It is diploid and may be cross breeding with another diploid, something that can happen quite easily.
Prairie Blue Eyes is another diploid that does quite well in the Secret Garden. It does give me that wonderful bluish pink that I love. No peachy tones here.
I bought Druid’s Chant because of the name (and the color of the flower on the tag). It isn’t as vigorous as I’d hoped it would be, but it does have lovely pink flowers with a darker throat. I’d just like to see more of them. It is a tetraploid.
Sea Urchin reminds me a bit of Storm of the Century, though it is lighter. It’s another tetraploid and was introduced in 1990.
Below is the unamed gorgeous day lily that I initially planted in my Portland garden. When I sold that house, I took a toe of this day lily and healed it in at 337. It has large leaves and sturdy flowers that are the darkest I’ve seen. I thought it might be Nosferatu and so planted that in another spot in the day lily bed, but Nosferatu, which was not blooming today, is lighter.
There are a few other day lilies blooming, but not today. I try and deadhead every morning, although it is a task I dislike, not because it is onerous but because some of the scapes no longer have any buds on them. It means the end of flowering. Some plants like First Knight have a long bloom season. But others only stay for a couple weeks and then bow out until next year.