By Leora McTall, Washington County Master Gardener
Daffodils are done and iris are almost gone, so now it’s time for the daylilies! These three perennials are the main showstoppers here in our Irvington garden.
But what about daylilies? Do you say “bah humbug” to that orange ditch lily which grows along the roadside or at abandoned homesites? It is kind of wild looking and a bit of a bully when it comes to “playing with others.”
On the other hand, the Ditch Lily a/k/a Orange, or Tawny Daylily (Hemerocallis fulva) is a pleasing color, tends to crowd out weeds and never asks for any attention.
Daylily hybridizers have been introducing new daylilies since Dr. Arlow Stout used the Ditch Lily as a parent for his “Mikado” back in 1929. Now there are over 80,000 registered varieties and hundreds of hybridizers from the “professional” to the backyard hobbyist.
In honor of Dr. Stout, the Stout Silver Medal is awarded to the best daylily each year since 1950 when “Hesperus” (H. P. Sass) was given the first medal. Go to the American Daylily Society website to check out photos of each Stout Silver Medal Winner.
There is also an award for the best iris, which is called the Dykes Medal. After visiting the Missouri Botanical Garden several years ago and seeing their Dykes Medal Garden, this gardener went on a quest to find as many of these “best of the best” irises as possible, beginning with “San Francisco,” (Mohr 1927) for our Irvington garden. This first medal winner was acquired, but several others could not be found to purchase. Over time many irises become unavailable, and this is true with daylilies too. So, we did have a partial Dykes Medal iris garden for a few years. Since medal winners are considered the best at the time, they make good additions to your iris or daylily garden, if they can be found.
A popular Stout Medal winner is “Stella de Oro.” In fact, the first bloom was seen Sunday at our church in the landscaping there. Stella’s are known to bloom all summer, maybe taking a little break now and then. They are a golden yellow, not real tall and are seen in commercial plantings everywhere.
“Happy Returns” is also a rebloomer but a lighter yellow than Stella de Oro. It is a newer introduction which seems to be growing in popularity and is just as prolific as Stella. But “Happy Returns” is not a Stout Medal winner — yet.
“Webster’s Pink Wonder” is a beautiful pink “unusual form” (referring to the slim petals). It won the Stout award in 2014 and already had a place in the front of our garden.
This gardener’s favorite daylily here in our garden must be “Rolling Raven” (Stamile 2007). Its stunning black spider petals above a yellow throat draws one across the garden. It has received two awards, but not the Stout Silver Medal. I would certainly cast my vote for the beautiful black “Rolling Raven”!
As seen above, the “Rolling Raven” Daylily (Hemerocallis) with its black petals over yellow throat surrounded by Russian Sage.