Saturday, March 8, 2008


Hemerocallis "Now and Zen"

With spring impending, thoughts turn to green growing things. At times, this desire for green becomes obsessive. Some might say it turns to addiction. I once worked with a woman who thought nothing of spending $200.00 on perennials at each and every garden center she visited. Now, the money wasn't spent on creating massive drifts of flowers. Instead, she focused on unusual plants and plants more challenging to grow. Double flowering trilliums ended up being a multi-year obsession. She'd purchase three, two would not survive the year, and the next spring she'd try again. I'm not sure I could tolerate the heartache of losing such a beautiful plant time and again.
The addictions didn't end with trillums. Hostas and daylilies figured prominently in her garden cart everywhere she went. Usually, these plants were the newest introductions or rare hybrids. Often times, she'd try and talk the grower into digging up a daylily that wasn't yet for sale. More often than not, they'd relent and dig out a fan. Shopping with her was an amazing trip and the kind of behavior I swore I'd never engage in. "I'll never become a plant addict like THAT," I'd foolishly say to myself.
The past couple years my addiction has been daylilies. Vacation trips have been impacted by a wish to visit garden centers or growers. Last summer it was Olallie Day Lily Gardens in South Newfane, Vermont. It's just a short drive from Brattleboro, where my partner and I were vacationing, and was a grower I'd wanted to visit for a while. Luckily, I was limited by the contents of my wallet and so came home with a far less damaging amount greens than possible. "Bayou Bride" and "Mystical Rainbow" had caught my eye, along with a long list of others. There was one, however, that I'd had regrets about. It was a tall reddish purple daylily called "Katahdin." I'd walk around the growing fields time and again and come back to this plant. I hemmed and hawed and then finally decided to show some restraint. I left with the plants as "Katahdin's" flowers waved with an air of melancholy in the rear view mirror.
This year I discovered a daylily auction site online. It's quite dangerous as I could easily lose an entire paycheck to these auctions. So far, I've ordered just two plants. There's a grower in Maine (near where I like to visit when traveling there) who offered up "Now and Zen" and also "Katahdin." I remembered fondly my time last summer and vowed to win the auction. Luckily I was the only person bidding on the plant and managed to win it handily. So, my "Katahdin" saga has finally come to a satisfying end.
My addiction is under control. I hope. But there's a daylily farm in New York I might want to visit this summer and I can always go back to Tranquil Lake or Olallie. Looks like I'd better do some garden expanding this spring, just in case.

Recommended Plant of the Day: Since I've been talking about daylilies it's only fair that I recommend one. I've had Hemerocallis "Coburg Fright Wig" for quite some time. The poor thing was in a neglected part of the yard and I didn't notice the flowers. Then I moved it to a newer garden area and last year it produced amazing blooms. Not only were they colorful, they were huge. The base color is yellow, but every other petal has a red tip. Given the size of the flower, it puts on quite a show. This is a "spider" day lily, which means the flower petals are long like fingers. It's an excellent addition to any daylily collection.

Coburg Fright Wig