Sunday, June 21, 2009


I'm a mad gardener, and a few years ago, began to get involved in hybridising daylilies. This has proven to be one of the most maddening/satisfying gardening endeavors I've ever undertaken. There seems to be a strange corollary in daylily hybridising - the more spectacular the bloom, the fewer of them one gets, at least in a northern climate.

So the red seedling, above, nice enough, nothing to make it stand out, just another red flower, will have 19 buds, and then a stunner of a bloom, a nice creamy pink, with a good ruffled edge, and an outer rim of glittery gold, the sort to make one gasp out loud upon first catching sight of it, will have 9 buds.

I've learned from my mentor to be ruthless, and discard anything with less than 15. But it can be difficult at times, when those big luscious blooms are open.
If one works towards only selecting those with good plants underneath them - lots of increase, good bud count and branching, then slowly, slowly, one gets a superior strain of daylilies to use as a base for hybridising. I do admit to having saved one last year with a pretty sad budcount just because I adored the bloom, and it rewarded me this year with...the same. 8 buds. Since the blooms of daylilies, as one might deduce from the name, only last for one day, that's a big 8 days of bloom in one year, unless a couple open at once, and then it's even less. Grrr. Never fails.
Good lesson in patience, though. And self-discipline. And perspective - one has to be able to look past the ephemeral beauty of the bloom, to the plant itself. I don't make decisions until after the blooms are gone, as to what to keep and what to discard. I go around after blooming has finished, and anything I've marked gets examined for the scape: how many blooms? Less than 15? Into the compost it goes.
I only have so much within my control - my selection criteria. After that, no matter how magnificent I may think a cross is going to be, it is out of my hands. I've had quite a few of the crosses I had high hopes for, prove to be duds. Onwards and upwards, and look forward to next year's batch.
Gardening is all about hope, faith, and beauty.


  1. Beautiful pictures and post! I love my plants although I don't think I would have the patience to do what you do. The result though is absolutely beautiful as your pictures show!

  2. Gardening is fun. It is satisfying in so many ways. Nice photos.