Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Daylily Mania!

My son's attempt at daylily hybridizing, on hearing about our new neighbor.

For those of you who know me pretty well, or have been to my house, it is no secret I live across the street from one of the world's best daylily breeders, albeit retired. He still makes hundreds of crosses each year and grows out 1,500 to 2,000 crosses to test in his fenced and gated growing plot.

Before he retired here, I was easily the ranking ornamental gardener. We have some great veggie gardens here in the village. I've been watching them for years now and they constantly amaze me. The daylily breeder and I are constantly chatting how each year they seem to take their gardens to new heights, one in the form of a tuteur that for this season must be 16 feet tall, and on which morning glories, 'My Blue Heaven' will surely grow straight up to the pearly gates.

But I digress.

It used to be my house on which the gawkers' stares were focused as they made their way down our quiet street in car or on foot. It got so weird at one point that on the third pass by one car down the alley around my house in just a few short minutes, I ran out and jumped on the hood and screamed, "What are you doing!" (In that incident, it turned out the probably 90-year-old woman and her 60-something daughter made it a habit to check out the house on the daughter's birthday, as she had been born in my son's bedroom. They loved the yard, and I gave them a tour of the house, too.)

Now few gawk at my yard. The guy across the street has certainly raised the bar in my neighborhood. Actually, since the two of us moved here, two of the other houses on our block have had massive remodels and the whole neighborhood has become a lot more gentrified. It is a destination block for evening walks in the village. There's always a lot to see.

Surprisingly, you can't see any daylilies in his front yard. Oh, he has one of my favorites of his under his picture window, but the street-side walkway's border obscures it from the road. And, if you look carefully, his latest award winner serves as doorman sentinel to his rose and honeysuckle-covered gated arbor that leads into his classically-designed backyard.

However, most of his best work is obscured by roses these days. His test plot has tall rugosa and shrub roses covering up the view. His mailbox is encircled by rugosas. You see, it's his mailbox in the village of Wild Rose. His gardening for the village is a donated display in the form of a rose bed, THREE HUNDRED KNOCKOUT ROSES long. (I have a picture, but I can't find it. You're going to have to image how very impressive that can be!)

Wild Rose. Roses are de rigeur. Before he came on the scene, I had been experimenting with roses here, because it is on everyone's minds. Everyone wants to grow them here, but we have to have one of the most challenging climates to grow them in.

It is me, not the famous daylily breeder, who has daylilies out front in my hell strip. And, it was me that this morning, while walking Faithful Companion noticed said daylily border seems to be short one very nice clump of daylilies.

I stood transfixed, checking out the spot of bare dirt flattened to obliterate the transgression.

Someone would steal a daylily? That daylily?

It is one of probably 350-400 daylilies (all the same) which I have planted in three rows in my hell strip. The 4-5 weeks the dayliles are in bloom it is glorious. Although, I have reason to believe I am the only one with this daylily; they are however, just a nice golden yellow-orange daylily. Technically (as I have come to realize from chats with my star neighbor), they have some good points, high bud count, growthy (they take a LOT of abuse), good branching, nice color (although not special). They are not frilly or even bi-colored. They have sort of a trumpet shape, even when fully open. They are self-cleaning, which probably means they are sterile. And also because the blooms are probably sterile, they last about 36 hours or so, closer to two days each.

I have much nicer ones, although not original, on the other side of the side walk.

'Mildred Mitchell', one of the nicer ones, although not blooming, that was not dug up.

My neighbor has bemoaned daylily rustlers to me on more than one occasion. For him, a stolen daylily means the lost of possibly a decade of breeding and back-crossing to bring out particular traits. Probably why he is so into obscurification these days.

So, I have to wonder about the motivation of the gardener so caught up in daylily mania that they felt they had to have a clump of that particularly daylily. If they had stopped and knocked, I would probably have dug it for them myself. I hope they have the guilty pleasure of it.

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