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DAYLILIES

LaVere Webster began his September talk on daylilies with a droll dramatization of God talking to St. Francis in which he satirized the mindset of typical suburbanites with regard to yard care. We raise boring grass instead of wild flowers (“weeds”), we pay to haul away our grass clippings (which could be used as hay) and leaves, and then we buy mulch for the flower beds.

In contrast, daylilies can be planted instead of grass. They require very little care and don’t need to be mowed and fertilized. We know that daylilies have been cultivated for at least 5000 years and originated in China, Japan and Korea. The original daylilies were orange, and we know that yellow ones were hybridized in 1892. By 1934 there were mahogany red ones, and now there are 80,000 registered crosses!

Daylilies need almost no care. Different varieties bloom from the first 2 weeks in July through August and September and first frost.  True to their name, each bloom lasts only one day, but each plant has many buds. Daylily shows are usually held in July. The buds, roots and leaves are all edible. (Although I would love to have daylilies, I understand that deer view them as an attractive smorgasbord, so I have not even tried to raise them.) Growers dig daylilies after they have bloomed and sell them by the fan. A new daylily cultivar can sell for as much as $200.

LaVere has been raising daylilies for many years and has a “history garden” containing 600 varieties starting with the 1930s.

He brought a lovely slide show demonstrating the many different kinds of daylilies including bi-tones with the petals one color and the sepals a different shade, spiders, fused blooms, doubles, chicken fat edges, teeth, ruffles and wrinkled petals. Re-bloomers are still unreliable.

Here I will reiterate a theme of these summaries of our educational talks at meetings: most of our speakers bring wonderful pictures to share with us which cannot possibly be adequately described, so I don’t even try.  Come to our meetings and share a meal and camaraderie with us, learn more about the art of gardening and see the slide shows.

Jean Gramlich