Daylilies (Hemerocalis spp) started to bloom in early June in my back garden. Well, one lovely tall spidery lemon yellow variety of daylily anyway. The common orange ‘ditch daylily’ started to open July 1, as they do every year. Stella d’Oro about three weeks ago and the rest, large brash colourful varieties, just this past week.
I wouldn’t say I’m passionate about daylilies but I do really like them. A lot. They’ll grow almost anywhere and bloom reliably given enough sunlight. They are drought tolerant once established (long, fleshy tubourous roots helps them get through dry periods), deer and rabbits don’t find them tasty and, best of all, can be used in multiples ways.
Want a wide swath of specific colour? Have a micro garden that needs a flash of brightness? Want to savour a light fragrance in the evening? Want to surprise visitors with a bizarre shape or colour combination next to a well traveled garden path?
Daylilies can do it all.
A neighbour and I visited Bonibrae Daylilies, just north of Bloomfield, over the weekend. Next to a small grove of ancient maple trees, Barry & Margaret Matthie maintain about an acre of daylilies, carefully cultivated in well mulched rows. The maples provide welcome shade for visitors and the many varieties of Hosta they also sell. Barry hybridizes and grows from seed the daylilies in their fields and sells them either in person or via mail to aficionados across the continent – most of the plants in the field are $15 each for a very generous size clump lifted by Barry for you; a few of the more rare varieties can be $100 – a price not uncommon for collectors.
For me, the glory of this nursery is experienced wandering through the rows of daylilies, marveling at the colours and shapes, whiffing the occasional sweet scent and imagining where, in your own garden, you can add one of these beauties.
For the next few weeks the nursery is open almost every day – if you’re contemplating getting a daylily this is the place to visit. Even if you’re not a gardener, this is a place to visit – think of it as a living art gallery – a place to overload your ocular sensors on a warm summer day.