Monday, January 24, 2011

Daylily Blue

On this crisp white January day, I spent the morning sorting and thinning my digital pictures of the daylilies in my garden.  Because of the move to a new house in September and the almost nonstop fixing up since then, I haven't taken the time to get my photo library in order.  The past few days I've been working on the quest for blue in daylilies.  It's one of the holy grails, and I'm a knight.

Today's post is about the category of lavender or purple flowers with large centers of "daylily blue."  I use the term in quotes because the chemistry for true blue color is apparently not present in the daylily.  Many valiant knights are questing for a way to either achieve real blue anywhere on the face of the flower or to expand those quasi-blue centers to the extent that they cover the face of the flower and invite an illusion that something real is there in the color.

The illusion of something real; there's a subject for romantic poetry, but my topic today is blue eyes, not crying in the rain.

Here is Jack Carpenter's TEXAS BLUE EYES.  You can tell by the absence of direct sunlight on the background foliage that the ambient daylight is shifted toward blue.  I took this before the sun was up over the trees.  Once the sun is up, the light shifts toward red.

The sensor of my new Nikon 5000 camera thrills me with its sensitivity to purple floral colors.  Of course, the plant cooperated by giving me this perfect display of multiple blossoms.  I hybridize with this daylily because the blue eye is larger than most, but I haven't seen the results of my work yet.

Next, here's another prime example of beauty in this class, Larry Grace's DOYLE PIERCE.  The same light conditions prevailed.  The morning shower had cancelled my plans for hybridizing.  Wet pollen is dead pollen, you know.  So I spent my time scouting for photo ops.  This is the best I've seen this flower.  It's laying open perfectly and the gray blue color in the center is accented by the really nice green of the throat.  The lavender edge on the petals itself is edged in cream.  It's a confectioner's dream!  The other details that make this special is the rounding of the petals, the broad, blunt sepals, and the absence of a lighter midrib bisecting the petals.

My personal favorite in this class is Phil Reilly's SUPERCHIEF, below, in the same sort of early light.  In the garden this one looks to be edged in crystals, and the surface of the flower is uniformly dusted in diamonds.  This does not have the general rounding that DOYLE PIERCE has, but it does have silvery ruffling along the sepals, and the sepals show not a trace of deformity.  There's a light midrib on the petals, and I wish there weren't, but in no way have I ever felt like quibbling when I see this flower open in the garden.

I have collected dozens of daylilies in this class.  No two are alike.  They are masterful variations on a theme.

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