Share our similarities...celebrate our differences!

There are over 60,000+ (yes, that’s sixty THOUSAND) daylilies registered with the American Hemerocallis Society, and since my garden space is currently finite, I have to choose very carefully which ones I will display in my gardens.

When I see daylilies for sale, I run through my current collection and think about similar looking daylilies that I already own. If my mind's catalog can see a daylily in my collection that looks similar to the one I'm considering purchasing, I ask myself – "Is this new one a better example of these traits than the one I already have?" If the answer is yes, I buy the new one and plan to cull the old one at a sale, in a trade or as a gift to another gardener.

In general, of the 250 registered daylilies I grow, none are very similar. I don’t have too many orange doubles, or too many pinks with thick gold edges, or too many dark purples, or too many yellows with bright green throats, or too many patterned eyes, and so on. In my collection, I like to exhibit ALL the daylily has to offer its public in terms of color, form and characteristics and to do that in my limited space I cannot have too many duplicates. When (not if) I have acres to garden on, I will change this philosophy, but for now, space is my limiting factor.

In my opinion, all daylilies that are registered and introduced into commerce should have some distinction over those already on the market. I have no doubt that distinction is a trait that is both subjective and objective, so Im not sure there is a wrong answer to the following question:

What makes a daylily distinct?

If I were a hybridizer who grows daylilies with the hopes of registering them and releasing them for sale to the public, I would make sure that my introductions did not look and/or perform like 10 other easily-recognizable and widely-distributed plants. (and that is sure hard to do with 60,000+ registered daylilies and millions and millions of unregistered ones out there…) Why would I waste my time and the buying public's time (and money) with a plant that looks like something else? Is distinction in the eye of the beholder?

Here is an example of my thought process regarding distinct daylilies in my collection.

In 1994, H. 'Chance Encounter' was introduced by hybridizer and daylily icon, Patrick Stamile. It is registered with a 6" flower, standing on 25" scapes and is a dormant tetraploid.
In 1997, two children of H. 'Chance Encounter' were introduced by Patrick, H. 'Big Sur' and H. 'Absolute Treasure.'

H. 'Big Sur' is registered with a slightly larger flower at 6.5" (an improvement), standing on 30" scapes (another big improvement) and is a semi-evergreen tetraploid (not much an improvement for me here in the north.)
H. 'Absolute Treasure' is registered with a flower size of a whopping 7" (a major improvement) on 32" scapes (another great improvement) and is an evergreen tetraploid (definitely not an improvement for me here in the north.)

(left to right: H. 'Absolute Treasure, H. 'Chance Encounter, H. ' Big Sur')

As you can see from the picture, these three daylilies look basically the same. There are beautiful nuances to each one, but overall, in the big garden picture, these are three pretty pink daylilies with yellow throats and wonderful undulating waved edges. To the eye of Jane Q. Gardener, they could be the same plant if viewed as a specimen.

I grew H. 'Chance Encounter' for years and loved it. It was prolific, floriferous and commanded attention in the garden. Then I saw H. 'Big Sur' the year it was introduced and fell in love. I couldn’t afford it until 4 years later, when I sold off my large clump of H. 'Chance Encounter' and bought H. 'Big Sur.' THEN, I saw H. 'Absolute Treasure' in a tour garden on Long Island in the summer of 2006. My heart skipped a beat at its size and height. I asked myself that question of "Do I have one similar, and if I do, is this one better?" The answer was yes, I do have one similar, but H. 'Absolute Treasure' is bigger, has greater substance and opens flatter than H. 'Big Sur.' These two are an exception- two similar daylilies both worthy of real estate in my small garden. The distinction is the flower size and height…and hopeful wishes that H. 'Absolute Treasure' can win me a purple ribbon in the extra large section of the exhibition show next year.

So what do you think?  What makes a daylily distinct?  I'd love to hear your thoughts in a comment; all opinions are welcome!

Thank you to Patrick Stamile for decades of forward contributions to the daylily world. We are all grateful of your dedication and eye for beauty!



5 Most Visited Posts. Ever.

The Entire Vault

My New Podcast - Click Below!