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My daylilies were just beautiful until I placed the last post on eating Hemerocallis buds. The deer took me up on my challenge and ate all the buds off all the stalks of all the daylilies along the drive. Such is gardening.

Have you eaten daylilies? To be clear this is Hemerocallis fulva and its kin, not lilies from the Lillium family. These ‘Ditch Lily’ daylilies have been very abundant in my garden this year.

H. fulva commonly called ditch lily, a wide spread non-native plant. Those buds in the background are what you want to harvest.

H. fulva commonly called ditch lily, a wide spread non-native plant, the buds in the background are what you want to harvest.

I sort of remember from a long time ago that they were edible, but never tried them and forgot the ‘fact.’ I ran across recipe information recently, and it came back to mind while I’ve been removing the spent blossoms on all of my daylilies. Standing there, sweating in the recent heat, I decided to go for it and nibbled some unopened blossoms. Didn’t drop dead or grab my stomach and moan. Nope. Hmmm; not bad. I thought my taste buds sensed a mild celery flavor without the harsh crunch or strings of that vegetable.
Although there is a definite texture, I thought it more radish like. I had some in my dinner salad. Tomorrow we may have sauteed buds: gently saute the buds in butter or olive oil, add salt an pepper to taste and put on the plate.

Anyone have other daylily recipes?

Daylilies in drive circle garden.

Daylilies in drive circle garden.

Many gardeners start their garden when a neighbor or friend gives them a few plants from their garden. Usually these plants are identified by a common name like Ditch Lily or Lemon-Lily, Black-Eyed Susan, or with the comment, “these are just the old-fashioned ones.” These plants have proved themselves survivors, and have formed the backbone of many backyard gardens. Most are hardy plants, easy to grow, divide, and transplant.

New gardeners should be wary, however. Some plants can be dangerous. Years ago I accepted a plant called Creeping Buttercup (Ranunculus reptens). For two years this pretty groundcover grew spreading in the area planned for it. Then the gift became a curse. The third year I was pulling it out of the vegetable garden and away from the perennial plants it was choking. By the fourth year, I sprayed Round-Up on any shoot daring to come out of the ground.

This warning aside, gardeners can give away great plants, often sharing growing tips along with their garden’s excess bounty. The plants become a way to remember friends by what they gave away. Friends have shown me their gardens, pointing out the peonies from their great-grandma’s house, or all the plants from one friend or another. (I have my grandmother’s rhubarb and the daylily pictured is from my father-in-law.) The garden creates a history of family and friendship.

Many perennials require dividing every three to five years. When a plant dies-out in the middle leaving a ring of growth around a dead center, it is time to dig it up and re-plant the living sections. Other plants spread and outgrow their allotted space in the garden.

Most dividing and transplanting takes place in the spring or fall. In fall transplanting, plants should be moved at least a month before the first expected frost, and they usually will not bloom the first season in their new location. To ensure success keep the transplants watered the first year while they get established, but do not fertilize as this can burn the roots. Once the ground has frozen for winter, spread mulch over the plants to keep thawing and freezing cycles from uprooting the plants.

Receive a few plants, and in a few years you will be giving away plants. The hard part is finding someone willing to take all the extra plants.

Daylilies form the backbone of summer flower gardens. Their large, bold flowers attract everyone’s attention, even if each bloom only lasts a day.

H. ‘Barbara Mitchell’

Colors come in every hue between yellow and red from palest ivory to darkest burgundy. The only colors daylilies don’t come in are pure white and pure blue, but breeders are getting closer to these elusive colors every year. A self colored daylily has all six petals (actually the under petals are technically sepals) in the same color, although the throat or slight tube at the base of the petals, may be a different color. From there, the flower may be classified as bicolors, blended, eyed, banded, edged, picoteed, tipped, dotted or dusted and the flowers come in triangular, circular, star, ruffled, flat, trumpet, spider, recurved and double forms. Thousands of cultivars have emerged from these genetic possibilities. You don’t need to worry too much about this unless you plan to hybridize flowers; just pick the ones that appeal to you. Most daylilies are very reasonably priced, but newer cultivars, and those that have won awards, are usually more expensive.

Besides their wide variety of color combinations and flower shapes, different cultivars extend the blooming season from early summer to first frost. They can withstand neglect and drought, grow in many different climates, soils, and light conditions and are almost insect and disease free, although grasshoppers are fond of them.

Originally daylilies, or Hemerocallis (Greek for day beauty), came from Asia and Eurasia. The common orange daylily, also called ditch lily, escaped from early gardens and often grows along roadsides, notably in ditches. The yellow ‘lemon lily’ is another daylily species that has escaped cultivation. Since hybridizers started working on daylilies in the 1930s, the many changes in color and form listed earlier have occurred, but changes also include the number of chromosomes in the plant’s cells.
Daylilies come in diploid, or with the normal two sets of chromosomes, and now, tetraploid. Breeders developed tetraploid daylilies, which may have three or four sets of chromosomes. These daylilies with the extra chromosomes tend to have larger flowers, more intense colors, and heavier substance, or thickness of stem, leaf, and petal, than diploid daylilies.

H. “Nanuq’

The daylily flower opens for a day, and most are diurnal, or opening in the morning and closing at night. There are also nocturnal blooming daylilies where the flower opens in the late afternoon and closes early the next morning.

Once you’ve purchased a daylily, or received one from a friend, plant it in rich, well-drained soil where it will receive at least six hours of sun. While daylilies can withstand drought and neglect, they bloom more profusely when adequately watered and fertilized once or twice during the summer growing season.

Of all the plants a gardener can grow, daylilies are one of the easiest to grow and give rich rewards for many years. They forgive common gardening mistakes and take little care, demanding only to be divided about once every five years. During those five trouble-free summers, each bloom’s day of beauty is a sight to treasure. More photos of daylilies from earlier post.

August flowers

August flowers

August is almost over, but I still have lots of color in my flower beds. The beds improve every year although I move plants so often, they seldom have time to put down roots. The photo shows one of my favorite plant combinations. The daylily is ‘Fran Hals’ and is a great bloomer that began blooming the last week of July and looks like it will continue until the last week of August.

The coneflowers and daylilies have been spectacular this summer, and the Russian sage adds just a touch of soothing blue. I also had Liatris spikes adding a darker purple and lavender to the gardens. There isn’t too much blooming left, but I have a lot of Autumn Joy sedum which will carry September and October.

As for our hottest month, it hasn’t been. We’ve had one week of temperatures into the eighties. Very cold night temperatures dropped into the forties several times. My tomatoes may not ripen due to the cold, and even with all the rain we’ve had, my apples are dwarfed. I’m praying for a relatively long and warm September. I’d sure like to can or freeze some tomatoes and make applesauce out of all those tiny apples.

After daylily season I wonder why I have so many of the plants. When they are in bloom, I wonder why I don’t have more. In my garden they would do better with more watering, but I try to water as little as possible. We’ve had a fairly wet year, except for the weeks preceding daylily bloom, which was bone dry. Daylilies, or botanically speaking Hemerocallis, are very drought tolerant. I try to keep the plants deadheaded so they always look their best, but it is a daily chore.

cultivar 'Dean Day Smith'

cultivar 'Dean Day Smith'

cultivar 'Autumn Red '

cultivar 'Autumn Red'

cultivar 'Precious One'

cultivar 'Precious One'

cultivar 'Mary Todd'

cultivar 'Mary Todd'

After a wet May and a dry June, early July turned cold. Unusual weather. Is that an oxymoron? Doesn’t the weather always seem unusual?

One thing I like about the northern garden is that there is always something in bloom. In my Missouri garden it seemed like there was a lull in summer when the garden went green. Which is a good reason, no matter where you garden, to select your foliage with care so that the garden remains visually interesting even when not in bloom.

Red lilies and blue cat mint, yellow sundrops, yellow and orange butterflyweed and the old-fashion orange daylilies are blooming in my garden right now. The white and pink coneflowers, hybrid daylilies, shasta daisies and the purple Liatrus are starting to bloom.

Early July partial shade garden backing onto pavement.

Early July partial shade garden backing onto pavement.

My garden is only four years old, so it is still maturing. It would mature faster if I didn’t move plants so often. However, it is often easier to move young plants to better locations. There are a few reasons to move plants: you find they will work better for the garden next to another plant blooming at the same time, or the foliage juxtaposition is better next to another plant, or the plant isn’t thriving where it was originally planted. Besides, many perennials need dividing every three years, so you’re bound to have empty spaces.
Hemerocallis 'Stella D'Or'

Hemerocallis 'Stella D'Or'

On my ledge garden the Stella d’Or is blooming. Mine seems more golden-yellow than the yellow often pictured in catalogs. ‘Happy Returns,’ a relative, is more lemon yellow. They bloom at the same time and as long as seed heads are not allowed to form, continue blooming. Great plants for a long-lasting swath of color impact.



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