In 1989 when Wonder Spouse and I first moved to our current home, the fertile sandy loam of our five acres tempted us into a few acts of botanical acquisitiveness that we now mostly regret. Wonder Spouse’s big buy was daylilies — lots of them. In those early years, there was a wonderful daylily nursery just a 20-minute drive from our house that was only open to the public when the daylilies were in bloom. Customers walked the long rows of dramatic bloomers, picked out the ones they liked, and willing assistants dug them up and carried them to your vehicle.
On one visit, we made the mistake of bringing our covered pick-up truck. Wonder Spouse decided that in the mythological state known as his retirement, he would hybridize daylilies. So he bought a lot of them, enough to fill the long-bed pick-up. He bought tall spiders, miniatures, late bloomers, repeat bloomers, frilly ones, and simple ones in every color you can imagine.
Today, of course, I would not buy these one-season wonders. They are not native. Their flower buds are a favorite food of deer and other varmints. Their leaves are prone to a disease that turns them an unsightly rust color. And while pollinators do visit the flowers, I can now think of two dozen native flowers off the top of my head that would feed more pollinators, bloom longer, and better serve the life cycles of native insects and animals.
Despite horrible neglect, our fertile sandy loam has stimulated these daylilies to multiply enthusiastically. I have given away more plants than I can count, but you would never know from looking at those that remain.
Still, when their succession of blooms adorns my front garden where many of them are planted, they are quite lovely. A number of them are tucked in around our front water feature, and freshly metamorphosed froglets seem to favor the leaves and blooms of the daylilies as perches, where they practice air-breathing in dawn’s light before they retreat deeper into the foliage to escape searing summer sun.
I have lived with these daylilies for several decades now. When I planted them, I created name tags for each variety, so that Wonder Spouse and I could keep track of them. Most of the markers are long gone, but it doesn’t matter. I know each variety by sight, greeting the first blooms of each one by name as they appear. This post features many of the current bloomers, but not all of them. Vegetable tending in our growing drought and heat is a higher priority than daylily admiration.