After the deluge

A wet, warm spring – gotta be great for the plants, right. Right, including the weeds. Wow! What a crop! If the area was properly mulched last fall or early in the season, no problem. An old lesson, learned annually; one of these days it may stick. Then, three weeks and four days and nary a drop…..everything that came through went around in one direction or many but avoided MY garden with alacrity. New plantings were getting watered with regularity, but it’s just not the same. Then, early this week, DOWNPOUR in the neighborhood of 2 1/2 – 3″ one day and another inch the next! The plants are happy, the soil looks wonderful, I am happy. I hate to admit to having my emotions so easily toyed with by the rain gods, but so it is. Speaking of emotions, they are also easily toyed with by color combinations. I have never really liked the daylily, Stella d’Oro.

A good friend and terrific all-around plantsman, Jeff Bartley, once tagged it Stella d’Boring and he’s quite right. We said the good news about Stella was that she bloomed most of the season, and the bad news about Stella was that she bloomed most of the season. It is not a color I’ve ever really taken to, a sort of a dried butterscotch shade with little character and no depth. But yesterday, I saw it in a neighbor’s garden, happily cavorting with Happy Days, its much more palatable yellow cousin (or sister?). They looked wonderful together; far better than either of them separately. Tuck in one of those limey green sedums around their skirts and you’ve got a Saturday night ‘goin’ to the dance’ thing happening! I suppose the real problem I have with Stella and her family (along with the Knock-Out clan of roses) is that they may make colorful landscape plants, but I don’t think they are particularly effective GARDEN plants.

The real magic of daylilies is in the beauty of the individual flowers; they can be spectacular and breath-taking; in fact, they should be if you’re picky; and you should be! They beg to be seen in their own right, up close, like good roses. The beauty of the flowers is probably enhanced by their fleeting nature, each lasting but the one day, which means that the plant will look a bit tatty unless deadheaded with fervor every morning. In this garden, that a shoe-wetting 45 minutes every morning (when not working elsewhere) but with the added benefit of seeing 60-70 different and individually beautiful flowers – a rather encouraging way to start the day. Try it sometime. And plan to come walk through on a Sunday afternoon in the next few weeks as the hemerocallis clan (daylily genus) will be in floral convention here and I think you’ll agree that they’re worth a look-see in spite of the daily requirement of grooming (which, by the way, is essentially the only thing they really ask for!).