July 27, 2009

Mugshots: 4 Pink Daylilies, Part I

The post for all 8 pink daylilies was getting too long, so I’m splitting it into two. The photo above is of New Testament.
First we need to clarify what ‘pink’ means when applied to daylilies. The eight pink daylilies in my yard range from peachy-pink to coral to dusky rose to cranberry. Color in daylilies varies depending on temperature, soil, etc. I think mine tend to have deeper colors thanks to the cooler temperatures here in Spokane – especially at night, when temps usually drop into the 50’s. Below is a picture of the deeply-colored Hush Little Baby.

Second, here’s some daylily background: flower stalks are called scapes. Some daylilies are fragrant – all of the ones in this post have a soft fragrance that reminds me of lilacs, but you have to get close to notice. Daylilies labeled dormant die back to the ground in winter no matter what climate they’re in. Evergreen types will keep their green leaves all winter in mild climates, although they go dormant here in zone 5. I’ve noticed that none of my daylilies appreciate getting wet – by sprinklers or rain. Morning water on the blooms causes the edges to shrivel a bit by afternoon, and the sprinklers are more likely to hit the short daylilies. The blooms hold up much better on dry days. Below is a picture of Jolyene Nichole (I originally wrote that it was a pale version Hush Little Baby, but that was a mistake, sorry).

Third, here are my biases: I prefer shorter varieties that hold their flowers closer to the foliage, as the tall ones often look awkward. I favor flowers that appear to be just one color from afar – I think flowers with sharply contrasting parts look chaotic in the garden, though they can be very nice in a vase. I love ruffles and rounded flowers – so no spider forms here (sorry Dee, Carol, and the rest of the spider fan club!).
But enough preface, here they are:

1. New Testament – 18 in tall scapes, 6 in flowers, early, evergreen, from Oakes Daylilies

The color of these flowers is the closest to true pink among my daylilies: dusky mid-rose-pink, with a hint of peach in the sun. There is a distinct white line running down each of the petals, nice ruffles around the edges and sturdy substance throughout. Sometimes the blooms have a hard time opening all the way, but the great color makes up for it. This daylily began blooming at the beginning of July. Here's another shot of the flower:

2. Jolyene Nichole – 18 in tall scapes, 6 in flowers, midseason, evergreen, from Oakes

The first bloom on this daylily appeared in mid-July. Its color is a bit less saturated than New Testament, and it has a bit more peach mixed in. As you can see, the blooms are ruffled and rounded and very lovely. Below is another picture of this flower.

3. Sue Rothbauer – 20 in tall scapes, 6.5 in flowers, early-midseason, semi-evergreen, from Great Garden Plants

The catalog promised vigorous growth, heavy bloom and plenty of rebloom for this daylily. I’ll have to report on that in a few years, since my plants are just a year old and still getting established. For now I can say that the flowers are a vivid shade of dusky rose-pink with a white line running down the petals. This is the first bloom for this daylily. Actually, it would have bloomed last week (mid-July), but I knocked the bud off while watering (grrrr).

4. Hush Little Baby - 22 in tall scapes, 5 in flowers, late, dormant, from Bloomin Designs

Several catalogs offer this daylily as their best, unfading pink. In hotter climates, it’s probably lighter but still not too pale. In my cooler climate, the blooms are often more of a rich cranberry color, and they certainly are delicious! These flowers are beautiful all day despite their position on the hot west side of my home; the petals are like thick satin with plenty of gathers and refined ruffles. Though it wasn’t the pure pink color I expected, I think this one might be my favorite. It's labelled as late flowering, but it began blooming in mid-July with many of my other daylilies.

I’ll stop here for today. My next mugshots post will include the four peachy-pink and coral-pink daylilies in my yard: Barbara Mitchell, Millie Schlumpf, Dubline Elaine and Seminole Wind.

July 20, 2009

Mugshots: Daylily Preview with 'Big Smile'

The daylilies are blooming around my yard, and I have been diligently snapping pictures for later mugshots posts. I don't have as many cultivars as Frances at Fairegarden (she's at 70 or 80, I think). But I am planning future posts with pictures and observations about my 8 pink, 7 peach and 3 lavender daylilies. I just have to wait until they all bloom and I can get pictures of them.

The beauty in these pictures is 'Big Smile', a daylily with 24" tall bloom stalks (scapes) that is listed as a late season bloomer but started putting out its 7" wide blooms at the beginning of July. I purchased it by mail from Bloomin Designs in August 2007, and it didn't bloom that year. In 2008 the blooms weren't as ruffled and the colors were paler. In fact, I was rather disappointed with it and considered giving it away. Perhaps the best blooms come from more mature plants, as they have been spectacular this year. I can't wait until I can divide this plant into three and have a big mass of them blooming their heads off.

Each flower is like a work of art, and their soft fragrance reminds me of lilac blossoms. You can see that the colors in the blooms vary from day to day. Cooler weather seems to cause more intense coloring.
I had no idea that daylilies offered such extravagent flowers - and fragrance - until a few years ago. Most people are only familiar with the wild orange types, the ho-hum cultivars available at garden centers or the common Stella d'Oro (which I grow for its early and prolific blooms, even though the individual flowers are plain and nearly every yard in our neighborhood has a few of them). I find myself drawn to full, ruffled flowers on shorter plants. I hope you'll return to explore some of these beauties with me over the next month or two.

July 16, 2009

Shade Gardens at Seattle Temple

After planting so many trees in the past year, I realized that I had better study up on shade gardening for the future. While in Seattle last month, my husband and I visited the temple where we were married a decade previously. The extensive grounds include mostly shaded gardens. Pictured above are variegated solomon's seal, burgundy heuchera, fern-leaf bleeding heart, and blue and green hostas.

This shot of the same bed includes a fern and variegated hosta. I have noticed that the softer colors in my front yard are looking washed out lately in the harsh summer sun. Isn't it nice how these colors blend together in the shade?

A periwinkle clematis wound its way through a Japanese maple tree. I wonder if they ever prune it or just let it do its own thing.

I really love this gentle color of blue-violet. I'm using it as the connecting color that will appear in all the color schemes around my landscape. Campanula, lilac, wisteria, delphinium, columbine, big blue liriope, cranesbill geranium, nepeta, lavender, bearded and siberian iris all offer blooms of this color.

There were many different types of Japanese maple growing on the grounds. The leaves are pretty from afar and up close.

If you look closely, you'll see the pink on these variegated leaves. This tree was luminous in the shady bed.

I'll definitely be buying some of these trees when more shade is available in my yard. They're rather pricey, though, so we'll have to start with small ones. The owner of the nursery nearby my house had to dig up a 45 year old lace-leaf Japanese maple while rennovating his backyard this spring. He's selling it in a pot as big as a small swimming pool for the not-so-affordable price of $3,000. Thankfully smaller versions are much less expensive.

It was nice to see more mature hostas around the grounds. With hubby's encouragement (hostas are his favorite plant), I've been collecting various cultivars this year. We have somewhere around two dozen different types right now, but most of them are tiny.

This tri-color hosta was especially showy. Any guesses as to which one it is? 'Great Expectations', maybe?

Here is a closer view of the unnamed delight. I'd love to get one like this. Hosta leaves show more texture and pattern as they mature. Maybe one of the baby plants I'm growing will look like this in a few years.

There were dozens of this type of hosta planted around the grounds. I suspect they are 'Francee', a vigorous white-edged hosta that would be easy to divide and replant . . . again and again.

There weren't as many heucheras as hostas. Perhaps these are 'Crimson Curls' or 'Chocolate Ruffles'.

Here is a final shot of a mature (!) tree and hostas. I enjoyed the elegant colors and peaceful feeling in these shaded gardens and hope to create a similar feeling in my backyard through the coming years.

July 6, 2009

Mugshots: 4 Siberian Iris

Four of my siberian iris plants bloomed last month. 'June to Remember' is pictured above. The intense blue of these flowers really catches my eye in the garden, and their elegant carriage reminds me of butterflies. I ordered this plant two years ago from Joe Pye Weed's Garden, a small nursery in Massachusetts that specializes in siberian iris and hybridizes new types each year. Click on the nursery name to get to their website.

Here is a different view of the blooms. I look forward to the great display I'll enjoy in a few years, when the 25 inch tall clump gets wider. One drawback to these plants is that they bloom for a relatively short period each year. However, siberian iris leaves form grass-like clumps that are good low-allergy substitutes for ornamental grasses in my garden design.

The blue-violet flower above comes from 'Worth the Wait', another iris that came from JPW's Garden. These deep colors make my heart skip a beat.

And here is a view from above the flower. 'Worth the Wait' grows to 34 inches high and is supposed to rebloom, though my young plant hasn't done so yet. Siberian iris take a couple of years to get established. All of my plants have been transplanted at least once, which has set them back, poor things!

This white flower is 'Rolling Cloud', also from JPW's Garden. It grows to be 29 inches tall and has a touch of yellow around the base of the petals. Siberian iris grow well in full sun to part shade, and I've learned from experience that they don't appreciate intense heat or very dry conditions (though they don't need as much water as Louisiana or Japanese iris).

These last three pictures are 'Tanz Nochmal'. You can see that it's very similar to 'June to Remember', though the color is less saturated and has a touch more turquoise in it. The standards (the top part of the flower) are a little lighter than the falls (the bottom of the flower). The blooms on all of my siberian iris plants are about 4 inches wide.

I also have little starts of 'Blueberry Fair' and 'Just Because' siberian irises in my garden. I received these from Schreiner's Iris last fall, and they didn't bloom this year. Siberian iris have a great range of colors, but I've been drawn to the blues. Pictures of 'Blueberry Fair' on Schreiner's website show that it will probably be very similar to 'June to Remember'. 'Just Because' is a lighter blue-violet than 'Worth the Wait'.

If you're looking for low-allergy, upright forms for your garden and are willing to be patient for a couple of years while they get established (though they'd grow faster in areas with longer growing seasons than mine), siberian iris would be a nice addition to your garden. Check out JPW Garden and Schreiner's Iris Nursery to see more information and options.