Friday, December 21, 2012

Yuletide Work in the Daylily Database

Fierce winds and horizontal snow defined yesterday and gave what I hope is the promise of some real winter cold in the offing.  There's not even enough snow on the ground to hide the grass, but the wind chill is something else.  I want to see truly dead foliage on all the daylilies, no exceptions and no excuses.

I've begun the work of continuous running through of my photo-enriched database to try to come to grips with a game plan for the pollen-dabbing in the summer.  The down side of having too many keepers is that each one expects me to imagine a couple of smart crosses to improve the turkey, or latent babe, as the case may be.

Here's what my database screen looks like.  I built it with FilemakerPro a few years ago.  It has three places for pictures and two windows where I can write the pollens I want to bring to a daylily and the daylilies I want to take this one's pollen to.  This seedling 07-153 on some days is white with a blue eye, and the plant is Dormant, but not pod-fertile, so I'm about to erase the names of pollens I want to bring to this one.  I want to use this a lot, so I'm going to consider carefully the crosses that might yield tall, large flowers with clear backgrounds and blue patterned eyes.

This coming year has to be one of heavy purging after serious early evening evaluation.  I can become too easily encouraged by pictures I take before 8 am, before a day of sun has revealed flaws in substance and color.

I got a good handle on plant habit, rapidity of increase, and hardiness last March when I ventured to confirm the foliage classification of my whole collection as well as my keepers.  I need to do another check of plant vigor before the foliage is up in 2013 because everything has been in place undisturbed since May of 2011.  Anything that seemed a slacker last spring had better show better growth three months from now, or show cause why it should not receive a disposal flag.  Here's one I know I must discard:

It's one of several beautiful keepers from SHERRY LANE CARR X SASSY SALLY.  All the flowers in the cross are "melon blends" with quasi-oatmeal tones.  All have nice yellow ruffles, green throats, and plant vigor.  All are too short to care about, and none have the good scape I hoped would come from SHERRY LANE CARR.  I could make more crosses to try to improve these in the next generation, but I could do as well or better by starting over again with different parents.  In fact, I have much better yellows and blends from other crosses already made.  

This cross was an attempt to do better than either parent, but only the flowers of the kids are interesting.  Their presentation is a disappointment.  I've got to dig these keepers out and work on something else.

Now I'll show a few keepers I will keep working with.  This lovely flower is a result of using WYOMING WILDFIRE to correct the opening flaw of MAPLE HUES.  I did correct that flaw, and I got a dandy flower, but the scape is shorter than either parent and the flower is extremely reluctant to set a pod.

I'm going to take this pollen to my collection of orange flowers with red centers and edges.

Here's another I like, and will take here and there to see what will come of it.

This is the result of trying to improve a favorite seedling (BEST KEPT SECRET X ROSE IMPACT) by crossing it with GREAT WHITE.  My favorite seedling very often imparts its form, as it did here.  GREAT WHITE gave this seedling a well-branched scape.  But I want to see more height, and want to overcome this flower's habit of beginning to decay in mid-afternoon, and I want to see fewer flowers open at once.  I've got a nice keeper from attempting those reforms through a cross with SHANTIH.  Now I want to cross this one with some others and see if I can retain the clear rose pink coloration.

There are several things I do not want to work on, much less achieve.  Among them is an increase in the already Rococo look of attention-grabbing yellow edges on convoluted petal surfaces.  I know, I know, some people like that's well beyond the metaphor of "full-figured" and even "Overfull-figured."  Metaphors engaging the mind in memories of skin mag models and soft porn are avoidable, but not very, as we're conditioned to spicing our talk of flowers with words like "mighty," "husky," "feminine," and "voluptuous."  And, may I add, without a libido, where would we be?

So, these somewhat excessive flowers exist, and I am a garden judge, and my job is not to criticize the taste of such creations but to take them for what they are and find the ways to discern merit and demerit.

One other thing I am not working on is "fringe."  But this seedling came along a couple of years ago, and I saved it to see if I could make anything good happen with it.  I call it my "Shaggy Dog."

The cross is HEARTBEAT OF HEAVEN X ((BUTTER CREAM X VICTORIAN LACE) X J. T. DAVIS).  The pollen parent was a craggy-edged cream seedling with a big flower and lousy substance.  I knew I would have to compost it, but thought I'd see if anything good might come of it anyway.  The smoothly-ruffled edge of HEARTBEAT OF HEAVEN came though with rough, shaggy stuff in this mongrel.  The color is poor, the substance is poor, the scape is poor, and it won't set pods.  I believe the odds are against generating success from such a monster, but God gave it to me and I have to see what it will do.

I'm still a disciple of Oscie Whatley.  I like size, vibrant color, and a great healthy plant.  Unlike Oscie, I like patterns and want to fool with them.  But I can't fool with all of them in my keeper bed, so I'm going to have to cull and "add value by subtracting."  Wish me luck.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Salad Days at Hidden Lake

It's early December and I'm thinking of an early December in 1995, the year I came to St. Louis.  The afternoon had been mild and I'd driven over to Edwardsville to visit my cousin, Marge St. Pierre.  A cold front blew in while I was there and I used the heater and defroster in my car on the half-hour drive back to St. Louis.  The temperature fell through the floor after I parked the toasty-warm car, and the next morning I found my windshield had a big crack across it.

We are having no such December here, not yet, though I hope we do.  Indian Summer is supposed to happen in October.  We've had it in the past week.  We've had enough nights in the low twenties to kill most of the daylily foliage, but we've had enough warm days around seventy to make some of those plants put up new leaves.

Yesterday I thought I'd document our salad garden, Kathy's prime accomplishment of the fall, but I got sidetracked by the geese who had been sampling the grass by the lake shore.  As soon as I walked out with my camera, they took to the lake.

The big white ducks out there were Easter presents from our neighbor to his wife.  For a while they acted like they thought they could keep the lake to themselves, but now the visiting team outnumbers the home team by a lot and they've all made friends.

The raised veggie beds have been more fun for Kathy and more good eating for both of us than we imagined.

She planted three of the beds with cool weather crops just to try out her planting methods and ideas. The green beans were the first to die from frost and we never ate them.  The peas were arrested in their development, and we didn't eat any of them, either.

However...there are gallon bags of greens in the refrigerator, and we've been eating off them for the past three weeks.

Kathy tried several varieties of lettuce, spinach, arugula, radishes, etc.  They're planted in dense areas of the bed, which is narrow for easy weeding and harvesting without stepping on the dirt.

I held the camera at a wonky angle to get this picture.  I hope it doesn't make you dizzy!  The colors and forms of these edibles are a wonder to me.

I had not thought we would have a hard time keeping up with the yield of such small beds, but you can see here that Nature likes to provide a bounty when the weather favors growth.  Color!  Form!  Texture!  Taste!

Kathy makes a salad of these greens with some chopped radishes, chopped celery, and store-bought hearts-of-palm, and we dress the greens with a balsamic vinegar and olive oil dressing into which I place four masked cloves of garlic and about a tablespoon of country style Dijon mustard.

Bon apetit!