Daylily daze

Saturday, 06 December 2008

November and December see daylilies (Hemerocallis cultivars) at their peak; however, there are early-, mid- and late-blooming types, and some will re-bloom in autumn. Though lasting but a day, each bold trumpet-shaped flower makes an impact in the garden, and I seem to want more and more of them in my garden these days. It is exciting to find the first open bloom on a new acquisition! The sheer range of colours of daylilies makes them invaluable for colour-scheming gardeners: there are more than 50,000 registered cultivars in existence today, so an addiction to these plants can be fatal. There is literally every colour of the rainbow to be had (except absolute pure white and true blue). Many have a striking 'eye-zone' of a contrasting hue. Flowers shapes vary all the way from spidery or triangular to eye-popping full circles and doubles, with miniatures adding to their diversity. The best sorts for Sydney gardens seem to be the evergreen ones; the dormant types seem to be better in cooler climates.

I think that they mix more easily with my semi-tropical style plants than they did in my previous cottage-style garden, as the brilliant colours and the flamboyance of the daylilies were rather at odds with the subtle beauty of many of the cottage garden plants. But paired with specimens of Canna, Dahlia, shrubby Salvia, big annuals like Cleome and Amaranthus or tropical foliage plants, daylilies are perfectly at home. They also associate well with grasses and prairie-style plants. Some of my favourites are 'Green Dragon' (a spidery yellowish-green cultivar which looks good nearby the yellow-striped grassy Miscanthus 'Zebrinus') and 'Black Ambrosia' (which is dark purple, and quite stunning grown nearby dark foliage).

There are several online catalogues for daylilies, which will provide much temptation to anyone in a daylily daze ...