Sunday, July 5, 2009

Daylily Madness #4

Image: Hemerocallis "Chicago Star" Daylily

I'm featuring Chicago Star to emphasize a daylily that has everything going for it; let me count the ways:

The first known daylily was yellow and many people dismiss all yellow daylilies as common and not worthy of enhancing a flower garden. Au contraire mon ami and mon amis!

The Chicago series was hybridized by Marsh and Chicago Star was introduced/registered in 1970. It received the AHS's Honorable Mention in 1974.

I received my plant from Oakes Daylilies as a free gift (when you buy three plants they give you a another one free.) Typically, a nursery charges less than $8 for a large healthy plant (Hornbaker Gardens in Princeton carries this plant as well as Oakes Daylilies.) It is a mid season bloomer and has a long bloom season. It is a semi evergreen Tetraploid with a Diurnal bloom habit.

Now for the good things: It has flowers that are a full 8 inches and very substantial. Substantial means it is not fragile - does not fall apart in wind - holds shape from early morning until after dark - does not fade in hot sun - isn't particular about surroundings - it may be fragrant depending on conditions - spreads to form a bush appearance.

The color is a bright yellow (sometimes golden) self in single blooms. Some descriptions say it has a small green throat - mine don't. The petals occasionally twist and curl. The bud count is high (meaning there are many flowers.) The scapes are 24 inches tall.

This lily is short enough that it can be up front where it will get attention. It looks great when backed by the dark foliage of evergreens or other green leaves. It's the kind of color and size where people will have to stop and stare - definitely an attention getter.

Companion plants that blend well with Chicago Star are anything purple, magenta, or dark green. Oranges and reds seem to compete more than compliment. Soft colors are overpowered by this plant and make them pretty much invisible. Set in full sun, the flowers will actually glow.

As my favorite little Belgium detective, Hercule Poirot, points out, "One must use the little gray cells." The little gray cells tell us this plant is the perfect daylily on so many levels, n'est-ce pas?

As a side note: Hornbaker Gardens' peak daylily time starts this Monday, July 5. At a time when many seasonal nurseries are winding down, Hornbaker's daylily display gardens are just hitting their stride (usually through the end of July is peak season.) Whether to buy, use as a photo opportunity or just to have a garden tour, it worth the trip.

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