Thursday, June 21, 2012

Hybridizing Daylilies in the Bliss and Torment of Ignorance

Out in the garden morning after morning, there is the bliss of birdsong and breeze, the pleasure of working a plan based on dreams of what might be.  I have saved a lot of seedlings because they represented "success" in a failure kind of way, know what I mean?

Here's one I love to have in the keeper bed.  I keep hoping that some year I'll lay claim to a full version of success.  I selected it in 2005 from a cross I made probably in 2003.  I wanted to correct the poor opening of MAPLE HUES by crossing it with a consistently fine opener, WYOMING WILDFIRE.  When I first saw WYOMING WILDFIRE in the Salters' catalogue, I knew I wanted to cross it with MAPLE HUES.

The success of correcting an opening problem was offset by a failure to breed a scape with adequate height, branching, and bud count.  My successful opener is to low too offer any garden pleasure except when it's on the outside edge of a border on a slope, so you see it as you walk up the slope and ignore it when you walk down.  

Every year when I remember to do so, I cross this with something better and hope for magic.

Here's another sort of success.  I wanted to try to get something clear pink out of my friend Mike Derrow's PRELUDE TO PANOPLY, so I bred it to Patrick Stamile's TRUE PINK BEAUTY and kept two seedlings for further work.  One of them is darling, but like my success/failure in orange, it nearly hugs the ground in shyness.

I love looking at flowers like this, and all too often in my keeper bed, I have to look way, way down to see them!

Here's another sort of tarnished success.  I forget why I thought it was a good idea to cross Matthew Kaskel's orange CLOCKWORK with Patrick Stamile's yellow STONE BEACON, which is taller.  I imagine I couldn't think of how to use CLOCKWORK and had decided to let it go.  What happened?  I got a plant full of these delightful orange flowers that are smaller than either parent on the short scape of Clockwork.  I like orange in the garden, so I'm using this from time to time in a try for more height and a better scape. seedling lacks distinction.  It reminds me of Curt Hanson's wonderful polychrome named THE GOLDILOCKS EFFECT.  Curt's daylily is all around better than this and there is no reason on earth why I should waste seedling bed space growing seeds from this one when I have far better chances of success if I breed with Curt's "Goldi."  They may look alike in a photo like this, but one is not at good as the other.  Saving something like this puts me at Square One, which is where I began sixteen years ago.  This is knock-off hybridizing, child's play.  Neil Young's "I Am a Child" should be playing in the background right now.  Saving this is a portrait of my ignorance.  I've got to throw it away and everything else of its ilk and concentrate my attention on things that strike me as different and special.

Here's one I'll keep working with.  I have four or five seedlings that are a clear lavender or orchid lavender.  This one from BELLE OF ASHWOOD X AUGUST WEDDING shows just a hint of a blue eye, which is generally overlooked in the garden because the form and color are at the right height and lend a soothing effect.

This next is from the Big and Tall shop.  While I now recognize the shade of pink in the eye as the genetic stamp of its grandparent, CLARIFICATION, that doesn't detract from the effect of seeing it in the garden.  I hope I like it as well a few years from now when I line it out for its final audition.

And this is one of two kids from BRIDGETON FINESSE X COSMIC ODYSSEY that have an identical pattern but display it in different colors.  This is the darker one.  

The lighter one shows a lavender eye with a neater scalloped edge.

I like seeing the eye broken into segments like that.  Or course I should cross them with each other, but part of my ignorance is just thinking of that NOW!

Another aspect of ignorance is wondering what to do with someone else's plant that appears to present both opportunities and challenges.  For instance, a few weeks ago at our club auction I won a plant that should have gone for three times my bid.  It's RUFFLES HAVE RIPPLES by Ted Petit in Florida.  Sometimes what looks "lavender" or "cream" in Florida suffers a color shift in Missouri.

The first morning it opened, just a month after I planted it, this was the flower.  The rippled eyezone was apparently triggered by a succession of cool nights.  The name of the flower comes from those ripples, and the large size and toothy edge are what makes this one coveted on auctions.

I took the picture before the sun was up over the trees.  Aside from the splotches and wonky opening, the background color seems to have a suggestion of pale khaki in it.  A couple of days later, same time of day, but after some warmer nights, the flower looked like this before the sunlight added red color to everything.

The color problem and opening and blotchiness are all transformed here, but the ripples are hiding.  I feel the weight of ignorance when I consider breeding with this.  I don't know if it's ever possible to clear up the underlying khaki hints.  I consider this plant a mixed success but one that's light years ahead of my keepers.  On its good days I'll allow myself to be swept away and on its bad days I'll dwell on something else.

This one never has a bad day.  It's QUEST FOR ATLANTIS by Jeff Corbett.  I aspire to make a majority of my collection meet this standard.  I want constant reminders of what the best of success looks like.

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