17 July 2010

Tranquil Lake daylilies

Clockwise from upper right: Jay in field of daylilies,
a very fancy variety, wall of cut daylilies, another fancy variety.

On Saturday, July 17, we journeyed to Rehoboth for the annual open house at Tranquil Lake Nursery. From 10am to 4pm, despite the 90+ degree heat, plant-lovers listened to informal lectures, viewed the gardens and, of course, shopped for day-lilies and perennials.
"Countess Carrots" - with over 60,000+ named varieties,
it must be difficult to find new names.

Most of the daylilies are field grown - shoppers wander the fields or plan ahead, using the online catalog. Price lists are available - the daylilies are mostly in the $8-12 range, but some very fancy ones cost much more. The eager gardener places an order, pays, and then the plants are dug by nursery staff, to be picked up by the shopper at a field-side booth. The daylilies are sold bare-root, but with clear planting instructions which I found very comprehensive. I wish Tranquil Lake would post this planting guide on its website, which is otherwise very helpful: http://www.tranquil-lake.com/index.htm In addition to being bare-root, the tips of the leaves are cropped, so the stressed plant doesn't have to try and push water to the ends of lengthy foliage. This is a good tip for moving daylilies in the garden.

Here's one of those fancy, expensive daylilies, but it is gorgeous.

Suzanne Mahler, holding a crocosmia, and answering questions.

We attended a terrific one-hour lecture by Suzanne Mahler entitled Favorite Perennials to Complement Daylilies in the Summer Border. Ms. Mahler is an engaging and knowledgable speaker and past president of a regional daylily association. She's been bitten by the daylily bug, all right- 800 types in her Hanover garden - and had lots of good ideas for color combinations. For example, pairing a violet daylily such as "Blueberry Breakfast" (don't you love that name?) with purple liatris, also a top choice to entice butterflies.

Back at my nursery, newly planted
daylilies with the Knock-out roses.

So, I soaked my six bare-root "Happy Returns," so-called because they rebloom, for the recommended one hour, dug holes just to the depth of my spade, and planted the lilies to a depth of one inch above the crown. Interestingly, daylilies have contractile roots and can pull themselves down to the right depth. I replaced the mulch and watered well. I'll water no more than 3 times the next week, as per instructions, to prevent rot, and not worry about the outer leaves dying (transplant shock, not lack of water). In 2 to 4 weeks, if all goes well, we'll see new green leaves. "Happy Returns" is a lovely light yellow which should meld well with the pink roses and the blue catmint spikes. The traditional cottage garden color scheme of pink, yellow and blue still works well.