Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Song Triumphant - The Hybrid Daylily

The past two weeks, I've been paying close attention to daylilies that were transplanted from an unfavorable situation to a favorable situation, but in very unfavorable conditions!  Oi!  I have hoped that the daylilies that I seemed to have stressed to the point of death would, in fact, revive.  And, lo, to use a biblical expression, most of them have this week.

This is a daylily named SONG TRIUMPHANT, living up to its name after playing dead for two weeks.  It had arrived at the wrong address and sat in moist conditions in its box for two weeks before I planted it in a perfect spot.  It sat there, just a tube of dead plant tissue for two weeks.  A few days ago, I broke open the tube of dead tissue and saw some living tissue within.  Today this is what it looks like.

There are two dozen or so daylilies in the same fix, and all but a few are showing regrowth now.

I have known that daylilies are tough plants.  In 1996 I shipped my Vermont daylily collection to my temporary address in St. Louis in the month of May.  When I dug them in Vermont, a snow flurry was discouraging my work.  When they arrived a few days later, St. Louis was in a rainy season, and the clay soil where I lived was unworkable.  So I arrayed all the plants bare-root on the concrete floor of the garage and let them sit there for more than a week.  The garage wasn't super hot, so they didn't cook, but they dehydrated over time.  I thought about a story I heard about an international shipment that was in the box for six weeks because of a problem.

When I finally got my plants into the clay, they took a long while to revive, but revive they all did, except for one, which died after its brief revival.  It was just played out, I guess.

This month the problems of moving plants were more serious.  The heat was in the 90s.  I was digging them by the dozens and leaving them on the ground inside plastic grocery bags, exposed to the heat.  Occasionally I'd move a batch to the trunk of my car, which sat in the shade.  Within a day, I'd plant them here, also in high heat, but in moist soil, and I watered them in and kept them in wet conditions.

The plants in the most serious trouble were the ones that lay in plastic bags on the ground too long, both at the digging end and at the planting end.  Several still look quite lifeless and hopeless, though all of them felt viable when I planted them.

The unfavorable conditions at the digging end began with the ultra-close planting last August when I moved them into temporary quarters.  At the time, I thought I'd get them all out in April, but April was a rainy month here, and I didn't get to them until the end of May.  By that time, the "early risers" in that bed had put up enough foliage to completely shade the late risers.

Many daylilies can't tolerate dense shade, so a lot of my plants regressed to pitiful shadows of their former selves.  Some of them were so meager that I put them into an "intensive care" area of the garden where there was no chance of competition for light or nutrients.  Most are reviving now.  Some are probably lost.

I lament the losses, but they are so few in number that I celebrate the general toughness of the daylily.  It's hard to kill them.  Better not push your luck, though.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Nurture and the Battle

This is a tale of two crops in the back yard.  The seedling sprouts look like they are growing with a lust for life after the big rain in the early morning.

A couple of days ago I got this little patch weeded in about ten minutes.

The other crop is going to be the bane of my existence here.  It's nutsedge.

I've been over and over this bed with Roundup's generic equivalent.  It's quite effective on whatever it touches.  These little guys emerged from the zillions of sedge "nuts" under the surface.  I'll have to spray again....and again later.

Over at the seedling bed in University City this morning I saw several more patterns. 

This is Blue-Eyed Butterfly X Rock Solid.  The form is more like BEB, and the fancy pattern is, too, but the colors are from Rock Solid.  Next step is to see if I can set seed pods on this or use its pollen wisely.

This 7" flower is from Bridgeton Finesse x Toward the Blue.  In form, this gets its neat appearance from Bridgeton Finesse, but it gets its eye and somewhat toothy edge from Toward the Blue.  The next picture is of its sister down the row.

The genetics are fascinating.  This flower's eye traded the blue quality from both parents and took on purple.  The form is Bridgeton Finesse, but the main color is a brightened Toward the Blue, and the edge is much more like Toward the Blue.

Here are the two parents I've been talking about.  First Bridgeton Finesse by Darrel Apps.

Now Toward the Blue by my friend, Paul Aucoin:

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

New Bridges in the Seedling Patch

My curiosity keeps driving me to save seedlings that don't look suitable for naming and registration, but that carry what I suppose to be "promise" in their genetic profile.  I intend to start crossing some of these right away, as soon as the weather will cooperate with dry mornings under 93 degrees.

Let me show you a few.

The first two are siblings from (Clarification x Maltese Falcon) x Meet Joe Black.  Neither parent carries a bubbly edge, but Maltese Falcon does, so here we have a genetic mix that favors the expression of the edge that went recessive in all the kids from Clarification x Maltese Falcon.  I thought I ought to try the pollen from Mort Morss's GOD SAVE THE QUEEN on these, but the convenient thing to try is a sibling cross, since they are right next to each other in the row.  More interesting would be to cross them with the INTELLIGENT DESIGN offspring pictured below.

This is a surprise result from CLARIFICATION X MYSTERIOUS EYES.  It's all about raspberry colors and that big washed and webbed band.  It compels attention, as it is tall.  I have to try some crosses with it to see if it will set seed pods.

This is BRIDGETON FINESSE X COSMIC ODYSSEY.  Cos Od is pretty tender here, and I'm always surprised to see it survive.  It's a good breeder for complex blue eyes, so I took it to a hardy plant with great growing habits, Bridgeton Finesse, which has a blue eye on a white background.   I have to try a cross on this with a seedling that shows a patterned eye.

This is CLARIFICATION X COSMIC ODYSSEY.  Once in a while Clarification throws white kids with very dark eyes.  I don't think you would guess that Cos Od is one of the parents from the look of this.  I'll try crossing this with other patterned blue eyes to see what pops out in the next generation.

This is a break from the normal look of the offspring from INTELLIGENT DESIGN X MEET JOE BLACK.  Every other kid looks like a take on ID.  Because of the extreme recurve, the flower only measures 5 inches across.  This is a first-year bloom, so there's no way to tell what a mature version will do.

Here's a surprise from INTELLIGENT DESIGN X COSMIC ODYSSEY, the only white one in the row and only hinting at a potential for patterned eyezone.  It's ugly sister (below) has the best scape in the cross.

The blossom is some kind of disaster.  Maybe on subsequent days it will look more presentable.  The scape, however, is fine. 

This is JUST LIKE CANDY X POINT OF DIVERGENCE.  The flowers don't open flat, which is a must, but the eye pattern is what I hoped for in POD crosses.  This might be one to take to the other seedlings pictured here.

This is MYSTERIOUS EYES X THIBODAUX TANTALIZER.  The eye is an expression of ME, while the form is TT all the way.  Color is pastel charcoal pink, if you can imagine such a cadaverous color.  I'll try crossing this with the others just to see what happens. 

Here's one that will be de-selected.  The photo I took yesterday matches a photo I took a year ago.

No amount of wishing for a better day will make this into something it is not. 

It's rainy all day today, but I can't wait to get over to University City, where this seedling patch is in its final season, to see what's open today!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Good Times, Bad Times in the Garden

This was a good time, seeing Kathy serenely trimming the foliage on potted daylilies that I'm about to get into the ground.  Here's Kathy's photo of her work-in-progress as she finished off a batch of about two hundred plants, the last of them!

While she was doing this, I was using the earth auger to open up holes about three or four inches deep and eight inches wide in my evaluation bed.  I had the bagged plants from our Sunday dig in the shade of the house to reduce heat stress, and I dug only six holes at a time to prevent the dirt from becoming thoroughly dry.  Kathy grabbed her camera and took a lot of pictures of "man on the landscape!"

She took a position on the outside of the two display gardens on the right corner of our property.  The strange little off-white columns in the lower right corner are not white aparagus; no, they are the daylilies that languished in a moist box for two weeks at the wrong address.  I'm getting replacement plants except for the one that is no longer available at my seller's garden.  He's refunding my money for that one.

This is not as easy at it looks.  The top inch of soil has baked for several days, so it takes work to resist the auger's circular motion until it gets down into soil that has a bit of moisture.  My hands would tire if I attempted more than six holes at a time in this soil.  Down in the back yard, where the moisture never seems to leave, I could dig more than a dozen holes before needing a break, but I'd still have to consider the drying effect of the sun if I can't plant into those holes pretty quickly.

Done!  Well, done for the time being, anyway.  I love this part of the work.  I love setting the plants I've bred and cared-for, photographed, described, and dreamed about.  So, when I goof up in transplanting them, I feel sad, not because I lost property, but because some living thing in my stewardship came to an untimely end.

Here is an untimely end.  I have never done this to a plant before, and this time I've done it to maybe a dozen of them. 

This plant was healthy when I dug it and put it into a plastic grocery sack and laid it on the ground while I dug others.  Then it was on the ground in the sun again as I planted twenty or more sacks of them.  I suppose that the plastic sack magnified the heat.  The plant was firm when I set it into the ground, but that fan bent over (it didn't break) soon after. 

After I took this picture this morning I pulled the fan out of the ground.  No roots came with it; the plant tissue at that bend was just white mush.  It had cooked.  I suspect the other fan will also succumb, but I'll leave it in place and see what develops.

I screwed up, though not Big-time.  I hope I never see the likes of this again.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Filling in the Design

I didn't plan to fill these beds with daylilies, but I'm in a race to get hundreds of them in the ground by the end of this week.  This morning I filled the bed on the right and started in on the bed beyond.  I took these pictures after breakfast, so there's a reddish cast to the light because of the low angle of the sun.

This angle of view gives you a better idea of how I'm using circles and curves in the back yard.  The lot is shaped like a quarter of a pie, and the house is a long box, so I'm using curves wherever possible.

In the bed on the right I started to introduce perennials other than daylilies.  I liked the effect, so after lunch I went out and bought a carload of more perennials for the next areas I plant.  Some of the plants in the near beds were "cooked" on Friday or Saturday when I dug and planted them.  I may have laid them out in the sun too long.  I think four to six of them are looking so bad that I'll be amazed if they recover.  I corrected my methods in case what I did was the cause of the plants' distress.

This is my "keeper" bed for further evaluation of selected seedlings.  At the moment it's about half-full.  I expect I'll fill it and overflow it by the weekend as I work through all the pots in the driveway.

 Meanwhile, my contractor, Steve Brandt, who has been working out rain drainage away from the basement and grading the top of the back yard, got the idea of breaking up the soil of my seedling beds with his backhoe.  This was a godsend, because there are big chunks of stone and Highway 94 asphalt in the ground.  The rubble dates back to a request by the former owner for some "fill" from the highway crew.  He should have said "clean fill."  Instead, he got something that must have caused no end of tale-telling at MODOT.  Some joke, huh?

This is my seedling crop now.  Only a few crosses haven't germinated.

These will be transplanted in August to the beds that Steve broke up yesterday and today.  I'll go through them with my tiller and amend the soil with compost as I go.

Blooming in the display bed in front this morning was a breathtaking large flower by Gerda Brooker, AUTUMN REFLECTION.  It is registered as a "tangerine self."  If you factor out the red shift from morning sunlight, what I have is a creamy yellow that wouldn't ever pass for tangerine color.

It's a stunning flower out of J.T. Davis x Tet. Siloam Ralph Henry.  Maybe it will show a tangerine side to its personality when established in the garden.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

High Heat Gardeners

Kathy and I worked outside for about five hours today as the temperature went from quite warm to pizza oven!  She's working out a planting scheme for the big window boxes in front of the house, and I'm still racing to get my daylilies fully moved from University City and planted here. 

Some won't bloom this year.  Some will.  Probably none will die because of the heat stress of moving this month, but if they do, they don't belong in a collection of champions.  That's all I want to have here, champions.  That's the only sort of movie I want to watch, the only sort of book I want to read, the only sort of concert I want to attend.  Life is cluttered with pretense, incompetence, mediocrity, and failure.  There is no reason to infuse a life with more of it than one produces on one's own, is there?

I planted 115 daylilies today.  Here's my evaluation bed, partially full.

I killed the grass with glyphosate.  Rather than till the whole area and watch it erode, I'm drilling into the clay with a gasoline-powered earth auger.  I go down about three inches and drill six to eight holes at a time.  Then before the sun hardens the dirt into brick shards, I mix several handfuls of compost with the soil and set the plants.  Then I water with a wand.  I water every plant in every bed every other day for more than a week to assure that the roots have a chance to get going.

I've filled the two display beds and have begun to plant the beds in the back yard.  Down there the soil has not dried out much because of all the leaf mold on top.  The auger works easily and quickly there except for the moments when it encounters chunks of old Highway 94 about 5 inches down.  Here's the back yard today.

The bed on the far right is fully planted.  It's dominated by shades of lavender and pewter lavender with some accents of gold and dark purple.  The inner circle in the distance is ten feet across.  There's a crimson pygmy barberry in the middle.  Planted around it are soft pastels -- TAXCO (a white that seems a platinum silver lavender), BARBARA MITCHELL (a pink with a lavender veil), ROSE EMILY (a gorgeous rose pink), SUBTLE BEAUTY (a near white by my mentor, Oscie Whatley, from Tet. TANI, [which is from the same breeder as BARBARA MITCHELL and ROSE EMILY]), EARLY SNOW (a white by Patrick Stamile), and RIME ICE (a white by Oscie Whatley from Stamile's ARCTIC SNOW.)  You see, I create relationships in my garden.

The four beds around that circular bed all have a curved edge along the circular path.  I've planted the gorgeous pink JACQUELINE KENNEDY ONASSIS on that edge.  I believe I indulged in a stroke of political balance over there when I put PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN near "Jackie O."  Both flowers were named by Frank Smith, though Larry Grace was the breeder of "Jackie O."

The near four beds also have a circular bed in the middle.  The shrub there is spirea "golden mound" or some such phrase.  I'm encircling that with bright orange daylilies.  When I have enough of ELIJAH I'll use that for the full circle, but today I don't have enough, so it's a medley of bright orange ones.

The curved edge of the four big beds is planted in Oscie Whatley's GREEK EFFECT, one of his overall best daylilies.  A clump in bloom is spectacular, so twenty-some clumps will be paradise!

Here's one more odd feature of the garden.

Those white things are daylilies that were shipped to the wrong address two weeks ago.  They went to my house-for-sale in University City and probably arrived the day after I cut the grass and checked the house last week.  A real estate agent put the box inside the house but didn't notify anyone that there was a package there for me.  When I told my auction seller that the box didn't arrive here, he checked his records and admitted his goof.  He had my old address on file and didn't compare it with the correct address on my auction paper trail. 

Mistakes do happen.  They happen all the time.  My seller is sending another box next week to the correct address.  In the general scheme of things, this is not a big deal.  I hope in another month to have "after" pictures to complement this "before" shot.