Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Orange, glorious orange

My bed of Tawny Daylilies, just outside the back door, is nearing the end of its blooming cycle; next week I'll cut back the stalks.

Someone has been saying terrible things about my old friend Hemerocallis fulva, also known as Tawny Daylily (sounds a little like the name a stripper might choose, doesn't it?).

My friend Katherine wrote the other day, "What are your thoughts on ditch lilies? I planted some in front, not realizing how invasive they can be. I don't want to lose my much more expensive hybrid daylilies; should I pull and transplant while I (probably) still can?"

Katherine actually loves the old orange garden favorite --- she's a great kid --- and decided eventually to move hers to a more informal area in order to spare the feelings of her sissified hybrids, but not before adding, "I read some people considered them gaudy and some people 'never allow orange in their garden.' "

Imagine that --- colorist gardeners. Hemerocallis fulva was born that way, folks.


According to that great source of everything worth knowing, Wikipedia, the Tawny Daylily and its sweet-scented sister Lemon-lily, or Hemerocallis lilioasphodelus, were 17th-century imports from England to American gardens.

Like pioneer women, Tawny Daylilies are tough --- once established in a new home they put down roots and stick it out. And they do spread, if left unattended --- but not dramatically so. Most of the big beds seen in roadside ditches have been developing for decades, even a century or more --- ever since some yahoo bulldozed or otherwise wiped out the pioneer homestead to which they once were attached.

Our orange friends will survive nearly everything --- shrugging off a drought, laughing at untimely frosts and freezes.


Besides, who could live without that glorious color? My mother, a master gardener before there officially were such things, lived surrounded by colors mixed with abandon. "Look how God gardens," she'd say --- then follow suit.

I can't imagine life without Tiger Lilies (Lilium lancifolium), above, which soon will be blooming alongside the house, too.

And what a boring walk through the prairie remnants it would be without the the Tiger's smaller, native sister Michigan Lily (Lilium michiganense), above, or Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa), below.

1 comment:

Brenda said...

I learn so much by reading your blog. I grew up in a house that was surrounded on two sides by Tawny Day lilies, but I never knew them by that name, just "day lilies". My mom hated them. I loved picking bouquets of them only to be disappointed the next morning by a bunch of wet, droopy, dead blooms. Ah, the memories!