Monday, July 25, 2011

Dr. Darrel Apps Does Daylilies (and Corrects my Blog!)

If you have a daylily in your garden, chances are my neighbor, Dr. Darrel Apps had something to do with it, somewhere along its genetic history. Until about 1950, daylilies were basically yellow or orange and pretty much looked like the orange ditch lilies blooming in profusion along the roadways of rural America. Back about 1975, though, Darrel with his newly minted PhD met up with a Professor Jablonski at the University of Kentucky. There, Jablonski was coming up with the 'Stella de Oro' daylily. Stella was different. Stella bloomed for what seemed like forever. Stella had tons of bloom. Even the foliage was different, shorter, bluer, yet the flowers bloomed above the foliage. The ubiquitous, nearly a weed, garden daylily of today signaled the beginning of daylilies as we know them.

Dr. Apps bought an originator's clump off Professor Jablonski (at the price of $50--yeah $50 for Stella!) and crossing it with a orangey-pale reddish hemerocallis fulva grossa (which are typically fairly sterile) managed to get the first of what would be daylilies with colors other than school bus yellow or ditch lily orange.

Over the next few years, daylily hybridizing exploded. Darrel introduced daylilies like 'Little Red Hen,' 'Happy Returns' and started his Woodside Nursery in Bridgeton, New Jersey. When he retired (yeah, he's retired but his work pace makes me dizzy!) he sold his Woodside Nursery to Centerton Nursery which maintains a listing of over 340 of his daylilies they have for sale. They do a much better job of close-up pictures than I do, and yes, the colors actually look like that!

Daylilies in a yellow-orange palette.

The color spectrum is huge these days. Daylilies come in almost every shade from creamy white to a deep burgundy purpley nearly black.

In the left foreground 'Romance Returns' and on the right, 'The Full Monty'.

Here in the United States, florists do not use daylilies in cut flower centerpieces. Darrel shows off what we Americans seldom see, daylilies can be the center of attention, despite their short shelf life. Could any garden party table top be more complete?

Darrel is not shy about including daylilies other than his own in his garden. Here is a close-up of the 'The Full Monty' developed by a fellow hybridizer. Sunday it sure looked like it was the whole package!

The affair on Sunday included so much more than just dayliles. See tomorrow's blogpost for some of Darrel's parterre and layout of his garden and the other cultural offerings sponsored by the Kiwanis in heir "Random Acts of Culture" garden party.

CORRECTIONS: The Internet can be a dangerous place. I do try to get it straight, so in an attempt to straighten out some of my crooked and glossy facts about Dr. Darrel Apps and daylily hybridizing, straight from the daylily's throat, sorta, this from Dr. Darrel Apps:

Just saw your blog for the first time! Enjoyed it immensely! Great pictures.

I've got to give you some information to correct a couple of things. Walter Jablonski was not a professor but a farmer from Merriville, IN. He started sending me letters while I was at the University of Kentucky and we became friends. I usually would visit him in Indiana on my way back to WI to see our parents in July. He introduced 'Stella de Oro' in 1975 and I got one of the first pieces for $50.00. I crossed this plant with every cultivar I had and got one seedling out of it by 'Suzie Wong' which I selected an introduced as 'Happy Returns'. Later I got 'Pardon Me' from some crosses and these two cultivars are in the background of many of my rebloomers.

A.B. Stout while at the New York Botanical Garden collected Hemerocallis fulva var. rosea (he named the clone 'Rosalind') and it was from this plant crossed with other Chinese species that much of the color breaks came. Several decades later I did use this plant and in fact recently selected some spidery forms from it. I did have most of the species but only brought three to Wild Rose because of lack of space.

I have never been President of the American Hemerocallis Society. I have been a regional Vice President and did serve on the board for a term and I've also received several awards. I asked to get off the board after one term and chose to spend my time with the International Plant Propagators Society where I did become president.

One last thing. I don't have a Ph.D. in Horticulture but rather in Agriculture Extension Education. At the time several Extension Specialists took their degrees in that area because it offered a better background in working with information delivery systems. Often the Ph. D. in Horticulture was physiology which wasn't the best preparation for Extension work.

You've got to see the daylilies at the other place one of these mornings soon. Give me a call.
Darrel "

1 comment:

  1. I visited Dr. Apps at his woodside nursery in 2004 and chatted him up about species daylilies and reblooming traits and hybridizing. Lol. I even had him autograph a book by AB stout! Dr. Apps gave me a couple species. I still regret not getting all of them. I have also been trying to track down his "Prairie Night" and "Powder and Perfume" which were two of his best "blues" at the time -- prairie night was such a different color than anything else. I ran out of cash though. I'm looking to collect all of his rebloomers and working heavily with them. My goal is to create an everblooming "blue" which is hopefully blue enough not to need the quotes. I'm in southern California now and just getting everything together for my wife and I to buy a couple acres in the fresno area. Dr. APPS if you are reading this (!!) please write me an email, and also anyone who has access to these plants, including the species like fulva rosea. My email is I also talked a lot with Brian Mahieu that summer and chatted the folks at Ollalie up. They're like celebrities to me! I promise Im not a stalker haha. Just a guy who loves plants. Ive got tons of stuff to trade too with anyone here, including species roses and Iris which are also in my plans for hybridizing. Have a good one everyone!