Posts Tagged Daylily ‘Brocaded Gown’

Beautiful Overindulgences

Water Witch with visitor

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.

May-May

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.
 

Siloam Jim Cooper

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.

Bertie Ferris

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Daily Daylilies — and Friends

Pink Betty

Pink Betty

We got another nine-tenths of an inch of rain just after midnight, complete with crashing thunder, vivid lightning, and torrential downpours. The frequent clouds and rain have slowed the progress of all the blooms in my yard this year, including the daylilies (Hemerocallis spp.), which have usually begun their parade of blooms by the middle of May.

Finally, their annual show is underway, and thanks to a little attention in the form of weeding and mulching (thanks, Ray!), combined with copious rain, the blooms are abundant and brilliant. I love Pink Betty because she’s a little more simple than some of my daylilies, but she’s a beauty, and for reasons no doubt having to do with a childhood full of Saturday morning cartoons, I cannot think of her name without thinking of Betty Rubble.

May-May

May-May

When the sun began flirting with the clouds this morning, I stepped out into my soggy yard and took a few pictures, which is why all of the plants in this post are adorned with rain droplets. Daylilies, as most of you know, are so called because they open one flower per day. The open flower only lasts one day, but because a happy clump of daylilies produces many scapes (flower stems), the plants still provide a daily display of multiple blooms. May-May is another relatively demure bloomer. She offers clear yellow flowers with just a hint of ruffle around the edges.

Red Toy

Red Toy

You can’t tell it from its close view above, but Red Toy’s flowers are a bit smaller than some of the showier daylilies. It produces many scapes, and I like the way its smaller cherry-red flowers float among the greenery and blooms of the plants it grows beside.

Brocaded Gown

Brocaded Gown

Brocaded Gown is one of our fancier daylily varieties. She flaunts wide, deeply ruffled recurved creamy yellow petals. I think of her as one of the great ladies of my front garden.

Siloam Jim Cooper

Siloam Jim Cooper

Siloam Jim Cooper is another of my fancier daylilies. I believe the Siloam series always features what the daylily hybridizers call an eye — that darker ring toward the center of the bloom. I have a couple of varieties in the Siloam series. Jim here is a fire engine red bloomer. The flowers are not as large as those of Brocaded Gown, but like Red Toy, they are numerous, which makes for a great display, as you can see below.

Siloam Jim Cooper blooms

Siloam Jim Cooper blooms

Many other flowers are finally opening for business too. I’m hoping they will coax the butterflies to return. After an initial population explosion of mostly Eastern Tiger Swallowtails, the butterflies mostly vanished during the recent prolonged period of clouds and rain. In fact I only caught one species — I’m not sure of its identity — enjoying the blooms of the pickerel weed today.

I'm hoping more butterflies will return soon.

I’m hoping more butterflies will return soon.

I always grow a few zinnias among the vegetables. This year, I’m trying two varieties from Johnny’s Selected Seeds. The first bloom to open was Zinnia ‘Zowie! Yellow Flame.’ I think it’s well-named.

Zinnia 'Zowie! Yellow Flame'

Zinnia ‘Zowie! Yellow Flame’

My coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea) are finally starting to open. They are usually big pollinator magnets, so I’m delighted to see them. The first to open is the one nestled between two large boulders. I think perhaps their warmth gave these blooms an earlier start.

Purple coneflower blooms last a long time, and their centers provide a favorite landing pad for pollinators.

Purple coneflower blooms last a long time, and their centers provide favorite landing pads for pollinators.

Also in the boulder garden, I was delighted to see that one of my butterfly weeds had finally opened some flowers. It, too, is a huge pollinator magnet. I’m hoping the sunny week we are promised (after the passage of today’s strong and potentially scary cold front) will encourage all the insects to re-emerge from wherever they’ve been hiding.

Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) is a milkweed family member.

Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) is a milkweed family member.

Here’s hoping today’s weather shift is not accompanied by dangerous weather phenomena, and that we can all enjoy our gardens during these last weeks before the summer solstice.

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Today’s Arrivals

This morning's crew newly emerged from the front water feature.

This morning’s crew newly emerged from the front water feature.

It’s too hot to garden, too hot to write, too hot to think — basically too hot for anything but drinking iced drinks and moaning softly. Still, before the sun tops the trees on my eastern border, I drag myself out for a few quick photos. I figure if the daylilies and the animals are still making an effort, I must also.  Thus, this homage to the newbies.

Water Witch

Water Witch

This one does like a bit of extra water, which is why I planted it at the base of the water feature.

Joan Senior

Joan Senior

Joan Senior is a ruffled white beauty that stands up to the heat remarkably well.

Top Banana

Top Banana

This very tall daylily is blooming profusely without the benefit of any extra water from me. Amazing.

Hesperus

Hesperus

This elegant tall spider daylily is having a great year because I actually managed to weed around it. Small victories. Baby steps.

A volunteer cross

A volunteer cross

When I stop paying attention, most of the daylilies set seed. When I really stop paying attention (say, during prolonged heat waves), those seeds actually mature, fall to the ground, and germinate. Given the location of this volunteer cross, we are guessing its parents were Red Toy —

Red Toy

Red Toy

— and Brocaded Gown.

Brocaded Gown

Brocaded Gown

A number of the other daylilies I’ve shown you previously are still pushing out blooms, but the flowers aren’t even lasting a full day, due to heat/drought stress.

The weather seers are promising dramatic relief by the weekend. Here’s hoping they get it right this time.

The Pokeweed intruding in my front garden is the favorite perch of the newly emerged froglets. Sometimes   I guess it's a good thing that my weeding tasks are postponed.

The Pokeweed intruding in my front garden is the favorite perch of the newly emerged froglets. Sometimes I guess it’s a good thing that my weeding tasks are postponed.

Stay cool, ya’ll.

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Losses — and Wins!

Victim of an overflowing creek

Victim of an overflowing creek

My apologies for the somewhat fuzzy pictures. I ventured out early the day after the very frightening wind storm that damaged many areas of my state last week. The Slippery Elm above was actually a casualty of the previous week’s weather. Just 40 or so miles to my east, adjacent counties received 7 inches of rain in 48 hours. We only got about four, and that was a very good thing.

During the prolonged rain event, the creek adjacent to our property overflowed onto our floodplain in numerous spots. This is the first time that has happened in several years. Chronic drought conditions have been a way of life far too long around here. Not this year, at least, not so far. In fact, for the first time in very many years, the National Drought Monitor folks report that my entire State of North Carolina is not in any kind of drought; no county is even listed as abnormally dry. My wetlands are actually wet!

But late last week, a frontal boundary packing hurricane-force winds slammed into my area. The damage was done in about a half hour, but, my goodness, what a wild half hour that was. I did not know that my great canopy trees — all 70 feet or taller — could bend nearly in half without breaking, but most of them did just that. To my east, rain-soaked ground weakened tree roots too much. The winds brought down many trees — large and small. Power outages there lasted a couple of days. At my house, it was a couple of hours, and not related to any damage on our property.

But that doesn’t mean we got off completely. In addition to the flood-downed tree above, a number of large branches from canopy trees were ripped and twisted off and plunged into the ground. Collateral damage was not too severe. But Wonder Spouse and I are more than a bit stiff today after a long weekend of chain-sawing, raking, and hauling of many loads of debris to the brush piles.

Friday morning, while the sun was not yet high and the plants were all wet from the rains the winds carried, I ventured out to survey the damage. First stop: the vegetable garden.

pine with squash

I’m happy to report that all the vegetables were undamaged. Bits of tree litter — leaves and branches — were lying about here and there, as you can see with the squash plant above, but nothing problematic.

Rain drops clung to every leaf, and I was especially struck by how lovely the Bronze Fennel (now taller than me) looked as the rising sun made it sparkle.

Beets and carrots flourish in front of this Bronze Fennel.

Beets and carrots flourish in front of this Bronze Fennel.

Reassured that all was well with the vegetables, I headed down to the floodplain to survey the damage there. Mostly, I saw small bits of branches and leaves littering the ground, but here and there, bigger branches blocked my way. A 15-foot-long branch of a Green Ash partially covered a native viburnum, but the viburnum turned out to be more crushed than broken, so I think it will bounce back. The Ash branch could have easily wiped out some nearby bird feeders, but didn’t. I moved on to survey the flood-toppled Elm.

The other side of the fallen Slippery Elm.

The other side of the fallen Slippery Elm.

The roots of this Slippery Elm were actually still in the ground, but you can’t pull upright a 60-foot tree, so Wonder Spouse sawed it into bits this past weekend. That task was made more challenging by the vigorous growth of massive poison ivy vines circling the trunk from its base to its top. Seriously, about half of the leaves at the lower end that you see here are actually leaves of poison ivy. Yikes!

To the right of the trunk is our Poinsettia Tree (Pinckneya pubens). We were very lucky that the Elm fell beside — and not on top of — this little native tree. It is blooming now, but not as much as it has in previous years. I think perhaps the dense growth of poison ivy on the adjacent Elm was  inhibiting flower formation. Now that the Elm is gone, this little tree has much less competition for light. I’m hoping it will respond next year with many more flowers — a win to compensate for the lost Elm.

An aging, large Red Maple grows at the edge of the swamp where Atamasco lilies, Jack-in-the-pulpits, and Cinnamon Ferns flourish. It has been looking less vigorous for a few years now, and the strong winds took advantage of this, ripping off several sizable branches.

maple branches

These branches didn’t crush anything of significance, and they’re not in the way. We’ll get to them when the mud becomes a bit less squishy.

The worst damage was on the north side of the yard, where a large Tulip Poplar and an even larger Sweet Gum lost several branches about twenty feet long. We think the Tulip Poplar was vulnerable because it had recently absorbed a great deal of water from the previous week’s rains, and because every branch was weighed down by heavy conical seed heads. The extra weight and 50+ mph winds were just too much for the Tulip Poplar.

One of several Tulip Poplar branches.

One of several Tulip Poplar branches.

One branch fell on top of our native Fringe Tree. The tree didn’t break, but one of its branches appeared to be permanently contorted, so Wonder Spouse removed it. We’re hoping the rest of the tree will recover.

Also on the north side, our 90-foot, double-boled Sweet Gum lost a few branches, one of which fell partially on a lovely blooming native hydrangea:

Only a few small branches of the hydrangea required surgery.

Only a few small branches of the hydrangea required surgery.

The leaves and bits of branches strewn everywhere made for interesting discoveries, such as the contrast between these Tulip Poplar leaves plastered by rain to our front deck:

Shade leaves versus canopy-top leaves.

Shade leaves versus canopy-top leaves.

Close examination of any deciduous tree in my area will reveal enormous leaves on the lower branches of large trees, while leaves higher up are much smaller. The big ones down low are shade leaves, so-called because they dwell in near-constant shade, while the small ones higher up receive direct sun. To compensate for reduced light, shade leaves increase their surface area, thereby maximizing their ability to capture sunlight for photosynthesis.

The rains and winds have definitely created more unexpected work for me and Wonder Spouse, but the up side to abundant water is visible everywhere I turn. I’ll close with a few examples of current wins.

Evergreen kousa dogwood weighed down by blossoms.

Evergreen kousa dogwood weighed down by blossoms.

Evergreen kousa dogwood blossoms crowding out the leaves.

Evergreen kousa dogwood blossoms crowding out the leaves.

Daylily 'Kindly Light'

Daylily ‘Kindly Light’

Daylily 'Winsome Lady'

Daylily ‘Winsome Lady’

Daylily 'Brocaded Gown'

Daylily ‘Brocaded Gown’

 

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