Heirloom Bulbs & Garden History  •  So Much More Than New
Read More: Daylilies
Feb
7
2017

“Supremely Beautiful” ‘Ophir’ Daylily

Ten years ago in a pioneering article for Horticulture magazine, Betty Gatewood sang the praises of heirloom daylilies.

“These plants, once treasured by gardeners for their elegance of form, are mostly unknown today,” she wrote. “But they are distinguished by one great quality: they retain the classic lily shape that has largely been bred out of modern daylilies. They are supremely beautiful. For this alone they are worth seeking out.”

Betty’s number one example was the lovely ‘Ophir’. One of the very first American-bred daylilies, ‘Ophir’ has “trumpet-shaped flowers (rather like a golden Easter lily) of unmatchable shape,” she wrote. “It is also a robust grower, tall (about four feet), slightly fragrant, and very floriferous. Blooming . . . for almost a month, it is far too fine a plant to be forgotten.”

We completely agree – and though this “supremely beautiful” daylily is sure to sell out soon, you can still order it now for April delivery. If you listen carefully you can probably hear Betty saying, “You won’t regret it.”

Jan
25
2017

What Good is a Historic Daylily?

And why should we have historic daylily gardens?

In an excellent article for the American Hemerocallis Society, Linda Sue Barnes offers several answers to those two questions, most of which also apply to the even bigger questions: What good is any historic flower? And why should we grow them today?

What Good is a Historic Daylily? – www.OldHouseGardens.com
‘Poinsettia’, 1953

1. “Many historic daylilies have beautiful flowers. Many ... are stars or trumpets, and ... the simplicity of those flowers can provide a break from all the ruffles, fancy edges, and patterns of the modern daylily.”

2. “Many historic daylilies have spectacular garden habit,” such as ‘Autumn Minaret’ (1951) which “can easily reach 6 feet with as many as 80 blooms on a scape.”

3. “Logically enough, most of the early cultivars that are still in gardens today multiply well and are very hardy.”

4. “Historic daylilies ... extend the garden season.” In her North Carolina garden, Linda Sue has historic varieties blooming from early April – “a month before more modern cultivars begin” – well into September.

5. “Historic daylilies ... win flower shows.” Linda Sue says four 1950s classics have “won Best in Show in our region in the last few years” and “many more have won Best in Section.”

lemon lily, 1570

6. “Historic daylilies .... can, even today, be good parents.” Breeders such as Brian Mahieu are using them to create new daylilies with “vigor, clear colors, a lot of unusual forms, and fragrance.”

For photos of 16 historic daylilies and Linda Sue’s reasons for having historic daylily gardens, see the entire article at our website. There you’ll also find a link to the AHS website where 20 historic daylily gardens, each with 50-100 historic varieties, are listed by region.

To see just how good historic daylilies can be, why not grow a few yourself? We’re offering 14 for April delivery including fragrant lemon lily, spring-blooming ‘Gold Dust’, and 4-6 foot tall ‘Challenger’ – all of which Linda Sue would tell you are great garden plants.

Jul
8
2015

Daylilies in Bouquets? Definitely!

Daylilies in Bouquets? Definitely! –
An early July bouquet with (clockwise from top left) golden ‘Ophir’, dark ‘Potentate’, yellow ‘Circe’ and rusty ‘Port’.

You might not expect it, but daylilies make fine cut-flowers – or at least our graceful heirloom varieties do. Although an individual flower lasts just one day, buds will continue to develop and open for up to a week indoors.

Way back in 1954, two University of Illinois professors wrote in a USDA booklet that “daylilies have become very popular for home flower arrangements.” They recommended cutting stalks with “several perfect full-blown flowers and a number of well-developed buds,” ideally in the morning when they’re “still fresh and undamaged by wind, sun, or insects.”

“With a little practice, almost anyone can display them to advantage,” the professors continued. “They may be used alone or in combination with other garden flowers and a wide variety of green and dried materials. Delphiniums, gaillardias, gladioli, Japanese iris, Shasta daisies, snapdragons, and zinnias are only a few of the many annuals and perennials that work up nicely with daylilies. Endless combinations can be devised that will brighten up the mantel, party table, or altar. Leaves of caladium, canna, hosta, iris, and peony can be used effectively in place of the natural foliage, as can also the graceful branches of various shrubs and evergreens such as huckleberry, magnolia, rhododendron, and yew, [or] the silvery leaves of artemisia.”

To learn more about using other bulbs in bouquets – from snowdrops to dahlias – visit oldhousegardens.com/BulbsAsCutFlowers .

A late May bouquet with extra-early ‘Sovereign’ (left), ‘Gold Dust’ (right), and ‘Orangeman’ (center and top).
Country Gardens featured this lush bouquet with ‘Orangeman’ and ‘Gold Dust’ in their 2014 article about us.
Apr
2
2015

Tips from 1954:
Companion Plants for “Up and Coming” Daylilies

From 1954: Companion Plants for “Up and Coming” Daylilies – www.OldHouseGardens.com

“Gaining rapidly in popularity, daylilies are truly one of the most up-and-coming perennials we can choose for our gardens,” wrote G. M. Fosler and J. R. Kamp in a nifty little 1954 booklet titled Daylilies for Every Garden. With its mid-century vibe, the booklet offers these tips for companion plantings:

“Daylilies are often planted with early bulbous stock, such as tulips and daffodils. The daylily foliage does not interfere during the blooming periods of these plants. Later in the season the maturing and unattractive bulbous foliage is hidden by the expanding lush daylily clumps.

“The earliest blooming varieties [such as ‘Gold Dust’, ‘Sovereign’, and ‘Orangeman’] are effectively combined with bearded iris, the whites and the delightful shades of blue and purple in iris contrasting beautifully with the gold and yellow daylilies. The later daylilies . . . also make ideal garden companions for bearded iris and peonies. Daylily foliage does not grow very large until after the iris and peony blooming seasons are past. It is then that the daylily really comes into its own to continue the succession of color in the garden.

extra early ‘Orangeman’

“For pleasing effects later in the summer, the artistic gardener will think of endless combinations. Some daylilies work in well with colorful phlox, columbine, and blue delphiniums. Purple liatris is very striking with yellow daylilies. Many daylily colors also harmonize pleasingly with Shasta daisies, floribunda roses, oriental poppies, platycodon [balloon flower], hardy lilies, and even fall chrysanthemums. Highly interesting foliage contrasts are also possible with such plants as canna, coleus, dusty miller, and hosta. . . .

“An all-season perennial border made up of tulips, iris, peonies, daylilies, and chrysanthemums will provide continuous interest from early spring until frost.”

We’re shipping all 18 of our heirloom daylilies right now, but please note that in a few weeks they’ll be too large to ship safely, so if you want them, NOW is the time to order.

Mar
4
2015

‘Corky’ Daylily “Scores a Perfect 10”

‘Corky’ Daylily “Scores a Perfect 10” – www.oldhousegardens.com

With chocolate buds that open into a seemingly endless profusion of small yellow flowers, ‘Corky’ is one of my favorites daylilies — and I’m not the only one who feels that way. When he owned Loomis Creek Nursery in upstate New York, Portland-based garden designer Bob Hyland sold just a handful of daylilies, including ‘Corky’ which he called a “must-have” plant. His criteria for selecting daylilies were simple, he said:

“1. Great bud count for extended bloom time.

“2. Smaller flower size (2-4” diameter) to fit the look of naturalistic border designs.

“3. Strong flower colors with saturated hues and tint.

“4. Tall, sturdy flower stems (36” and taller) that punctuate borders with aerial theatrics.”

“‘Corky’ scores a perfect 10 in our evaluation system,” Bob wrote. “Its flared, bright lemon yellow, 3-inch flowers are accented by bronzy-brown color bars on the outside of petals. Wiry, purplish flower stems rise 3 feet above the narrow, strappy foliage, and each stem is well-branched with a 40+ bud count, sending wave after wave of flowers your way.”

To see for yourself what Bob and I are so enthusiastic about, order ‘Corky’ now for April delivery. But don’t delay — we have fewer than 60 plants left!

Dec
2
2014

Garden Gate Showcases 2 of Our Special Daylilies

Garden Gate Showcases Two of “Our Out-of-the-Ordinary Daylilies”

“If you think daylilies are overused and passè, think again!” writes Stephanie Petersen in the “Editor’s Picks” column of the December Garden Gate. She spotlights eleven unusual varieties that reflect the vast diversity of colors, shapes, heights, and bloom-times found in daylilies, and two of them are ours.

Wildflowery ‘Corky’ – “The upper part of the scape and flower buds on ‘Corky’ are burgundy-bronze,” Stephanie writes, and since the color persists when the small, yellow flowers open, “it gives a delightful contrast.” What’s more, ‘Corky’ “looks more like a wildflower” than most daylilies, with its “slender grass-like foliage and . . . massive flush of flowers that stand high above on thin, wiry stems.”

Garden Gate Showcases Two of “Our Out-of-the-Ordinary Daylilies”

Extra-tall ‘Challenger’ – This robust variety will “provide you with lots of flowers” which “stay open . . . longer than many daylilies,” Stephanie writes. What really sets it apart, though, is its height: “With scapes up to 6 feet tall, the brick-red spider flowers are held high and perfect in the middle or back of the border.”

These and all of our other heirloom daylilies can be ordered now for April delivery – or you could add them to your Christmas list!

Jan
8
2014

“Pack a Vertical Punch”
with Unfloppable ‘Autumn Minaret’ Daylily

“Pack a Vertical Punch” with Unfloppable ‘Autumn Minaret’ Daylily – www.OldHouseGardens.com

In the current issue of Fine Gardening magazine, garden designer Troy Marden of Nashville praises one of our most distinctive daylilies in his excellent article “Pack a Vertical Punch.”

“Visitors to my garden always ask about ‘Autumn Minaret’ daylily,” Troy writes, “partly because of its late season of bloom in July, August, and early September [and even later further north] but mostly because of its towering height.

“Its foliage remains in a neat and tidy mound only 2 feet tall and wide, but its bloom stalks rise above almost everything else in the garden, standing at least 6 feet tall. Strong and sturdy, these stalks remain firmly upright and do not flop, bearing a seemingly endless succession of golden flowers for almost two months.”

Jul
11
2013

Who’s Growing in Your Garden?
Uncle Theron Returns Home

‘Theron’, the first “red’ daylily

Every now and then we’re reminded of the very real people in the mostly forgotten past of our heirloom flowers.

Recently, for example, first-time customer Amy Turner of Wainscott, NY, added this note to her order for 25 ‘Theron’ daylilies: “My great grandmother, Martha Prentice Strong, a great gardener and friend of A.B. Stout [the pioneering daylily hybridizer], selected and named this daylily after her husband, Theron Strong. I look forward to a garden of Therons!”

Intrigued, we turned to Google and discovered an obituary for the remarkable Mrs. Strong published in the Journal of the New York Botanical Garden where Stout worked.

One paragraph explained that the daylily was actually named for her son rather than her husband: “Another of her absorbing horticultural interests was the daylilies developed by Dr. A. B. Stout. From the first, she was enthusiastic over them, and for more than twenty years she maintained a collection of named varieties at [her home] ‘The Dolphins.’ In 1941, this collection of more than 100 kinds was transplanted to the old Clinton Academy (now a museum) in East Hampton, where it will be maintained by the Garden Club of the town. The name ‘Theron’ in memory of her son, was given by her to the first dark red clone of Hemerocallis developed by Dr. Stout, at his invitation.”

‘Theron’ blooming in front of our neighbor’s historic chicken coop, July 10, 2013.

“Oh, Uncle Theron!” Amy said when I called with the news. Her father’s uncle, Theron Roundell Strong was a lawyer, head of Manhattan’s homicide bureau, and a lieutenant in the artillery during World War I. Amy’s family still has the diary he kept during the war, and she especially remembers his entry on Armistice Day, 1918: “The guns are silent. I’m heading to Paris to marry May” — and a week later they were wed.

As for Mrs. Strong’s daylily collection, Amy says it survived until recently when the garden club ripped it out to plant wildflowers, a painful example of how historic plants are often lost to whatever’s currently in vogue in the garden.

Here in Ann Arbor this year, ‘Theron’ opened its first flowers on Independence Day — which I believe Theron Strong would have appreciated.

Mar
26
2013

Protect Your Daylilies with Vick’s Vapo-Rub

Protect Your Daylilies with Vick’s Vapo-Rub – www.OldHouseGardens.com

Got deer? Here’s a tip from our good friend Diana Bristol of Bloomingfields Farm, deep in the deer-infested wilds of Connecticut, who swears by it:

Put a little Vick’s Vapo-Rub on your thumb and index finger and then touch bud or leaf with it here and there.

Diana says touching the smallest buds on a stalk is especially effective because the Vapo-Rub will remain on them for a long time before they get big enough to bloom and drop.

Jul
12
2012

Tasty Beauty: Eating Daylily Buds

In Asia where daylilies grow wild, people have been eating their roots, flowers, and buds for millennia. Today the dried buds known as “golden needles” are often found in the Asian food section of American supermarkets. They’re even tastier, though, when fresh picked from your own garden.

Tasty Beauty: Eating Daylily Buds – www.OldHouseGardens.com

In his award-winning blog Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, Hank Shaw recommends a very simple saute: “Just lily buds, butter and salt. Delicious. Briefly cooked, the buds have a bit of knacken, a German expression meaning a ‘pop’. Yet the insides reminded me of squash blossoms. The taste? Green, with a whiff of radish and a dash of green bean. Honestly, I’d eat this as a side dish any day, any place. It needs nothing else.” Shaw isn’t as enthusiastic about the flowers (“okay”) and leaves (“not terrible”) but calls daylily roots “quite possibly the best tubers I’ve ever eaten.”

For a slightly more complicated recipe, try this Daylily Bud Saute with a hint of nutmeg from Golden Harvest Organics:
         24 daylily buds
         1 clove garlic, finely minced
         olive oil
         3 eggs
         1/2 cup flour
         1/8 tsp salt
         1/8 tsp pepper
         dash of nutmeg
         1 tsp milk, as needed

Cut the base off the buds. Saute the garlic in olive oil. Beat eggs and mix in enough flour to make a thin batter. Add the sauteed garlic, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. If the batter is too thick, add a teaspoon or so of milk. Dip the buds in the batter and saute until golden brown.

Enjoy!

Mar
3
2011

A Master’s Advice for Choosing Daylilies

A Master’s Advice for Choosing Daylilies – www.OldHouseGardens.com
small-flowered ‘Corky’

Christopher Lloyd grew thousands of plants in his world-famous gardens at Great Dixter, and he evaluated them all with the discriminating eye of an artist. For choosing daylilies that look great in your garden — not just in a catalog close-up — he offered this advice in Christopher Lloyd’s Garden Flowers:

“Don’t be carried away by a single bloom seen out of context....

“While being dazzled by large blooms, remember that small-flowered Hemerocallis are the most prolific. Furthermore, their individual flowers tend to die off discreetly, whereas large-flowered kinds really need dead-heading every morning, to prevent the colony from becoming slovenly....

“As with so many ‘improved’ plants, enlarged flowers are often matched by an increase in leaf size and coarseness. Watch out for this. Then again, the naked flowering stem should present its blooms well above the foliage, this being the graceful effect that gives the flowers style....”

To see exactly what he’s recommending, try a couple of our graceful, prolific, Christopher-Lloyd-style daylilies in your garden this spring.

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