Sunday, March 6, 2011

A Ghost of a Chance

Call me crazy, but I often follow whimsical impulses in the garden.  One impulse is to follow what eludes me, the thing most surprising, the moment of "ah-ha!"  It is the elusive color of blue in daylilies that tantalizes me.

The beginning of my tale is a gift from my friend Paul Aucoin, who gave me a small piece of his new daylily, THIBODAUX TANTALIZER, ten years ago.  First let me show you its parents, MILDRED MITCHELL by Kelly Mitchell and ETCHED EYES by Matthew Kaskel.

MILDRED MITCHELL sports both a big lavender blue eyezone and a bright silvery midrib that forms a point outside the edge of the eye.  It has a double edge of dark purple and cream.

ETCHED EYES is a big pastel yellow flower with a "feathered" edge around a lavender blue eye.  I thought my friend Paul took a gamble when he crossed a lavender purple daylily with a pastel yellow, but he got lucky with two of the kids from that cross.  Here are photos of THIBODAUX TANTALIZER and WHICH WAY OUT.

THIBODAUX TANTALIZER shows how colors and patterns can negotiate strange outcomes.  We've got the base color of ETCHED EYES with a light brushing of magenta color from MILDRED MITCHELL.  We've got a hint of the MM edge, but in place of an eye, we have a "ghost" of one.  To my way of thinking, the dissimilar eye patterns "cancelled" each other out and planted recessive genes to be expressed in later generations.

In WHICH WAY OUT, the color of MM triumphed, but its continuous edge became a partial edge, called a picotee, the shape of the MM eyezone has been exaggerated somewhat, and most interesting, the color of the eyezone now includes two "water drops" on each petal.  You might notice that EE contributed some "feathering" around the edge of the eye.

I wanted to see if I was right about THIBODAUX TATALIZER carrying recessive genes for blue eyes, so in 2006 I took its pollen to Karol Emmerich's CAST YOUR NET, which has yet another sort of blue eye pattern.   This is called a "webbed" eye.

In 2008 I saw the results of this cross.  There was a range of colors and blue eye patterns and also a range of shapes.  In 2009 I decided to keep a dozen seedlings and study them for a few more years with no competition from close neighbors.  Here is what made me keep them.

Seedling 08-26 has a feathered outline around a complex eyezone of multiple bands.  I think this pattern is coming from one or both of the parents of CAST YOUR NET, particularly, Jeff Salter's ANCIENT REFLECTIONS.

Seedling 08-53 has a look of magenta wash over pale yellow.  There's a dark picotee edge and a bold lavender eyezone around a strong green throat.

09-50 has fascinating color shading and "crispate" pinching along the midrib.

09-60 has the clearest lavender purple color of the kids, which makes a nice background for the much darker magenta outline of that saturated lavender eyezone and strong green throat.

09-61 is a large flower with a grainy, sandy look in the magenta wash over pale yellow.  The white midrib is slightly pinched, and the big green throat bleeds out into a nice lavender eyezone.

09-63 gives me the impression that it's trying to look like ETCHED EYES and failing.

09-81 looks like fainly blushing sandstone with the blush seeming to veil the lavender color in the eyezone.  

So much variety from one cross!  I am going to take other ghost eyes to CAST YOUR NET this summer to see if what happened for me was a fluke or an important discovery.


Subhana Ansari said...

Hi, Michael. just saw your post, and love your seedling 08-26. Wanna trade patterned seedlings? Subhana

Paul Aucoin said...

Michael, 8-26 has me salivating. It is so great!