From “History of the Daylily” in The Illustrated Guide to Daylilies by Oliver Billingslea:
“The modern daylily is a highly evolved plant, the ancestors of which were species native to the temperate parts of central and northern Asia. According to the American Botanical Society, the genus consists of some 13-15 species of evergreen, semi-evergreen, and dormant herbaceous perennials found growing along the margins of forests, in mountainous areas, marshy river valleys, and meadowlands in China, Korea, and Japan, and occasionally into Manchuria and eastern Siberia….
“The ancient Chinese, in particular, used the species for food and medicine. The flower buds were palatable and nutritious, and the root and crown often served as an effective pain reliever…. Because its flowers were bright and cheerful, the daylily also came to symbolize for the ancients an outlet for grief, its primary effect an emotional one….
“Two species brought to America were the orange H. fulva, commonly known as the ‘roadside’ or ‘homestead’ lily, and H. flava, the ‘Lemon Lily’ of early twentieth century gardens.”
“Among the most lovely and useful of yellow flowers are the Day Lilies (Hemerocallis). Their colour is very pure and fine, and runs the scale from mild lemon colour to strong fuscous orange. The flowering season of the different varieties covers a period of nearly three months, and few plants grow with such hearty good will in all sorts of positions….
“Yet I seldom see any save the common Lemon Lily (Hemerocallis flava) made any great use of in gardens, and this, though truly lovely, is usually relegated to out-of-the-way places where more capricious things have scorned to grow. The Orange Day Lily (Hemerocallis fulva) we commonly see decorating the roadside near to some old garden, but its colour is magnificent and it is well worth a place within the garden.”
This is the last of three posts featuring photos of daylilies I took at Oakland Cemetery’s Gardens earlier this summer. The first post is Summer Daylilies (1 of 3): Burgundy and Yellow; and the second post is Summer Daylilies (2 of 3): Double-Double Orange-Orange.
“Fuscous” — from the second quotation above — is a fun new word, don’t you think? I’d never heard it before, though perhaps it’s commonly used in Victorian-era botanical culture (or not). It means “dark” or “dark-hued” so let’s use it in a sentence. Here’s the Atlanta weather for today, which prompted me to increase the brightness on all these photos before posting them:
Pretty cool, huh?
Thanks for taking a look!