Thursday, May 23, 2013

Daylily Days

They come, the botanists, by the busload to Collamore Field Gardens, the Scituate garden of Stephen and Janet Tooker that has been certified by the daylily experts as an American Hemerocallis Society Display Garden. And on days when the garden has its annual plant sale, all us backyard gardeners show up as well.
How many varieties of dalylily are being grown here in this display garden? I pull a number out of the air, trying to recall my telephone conversation with the Scituate garden's maestro, Stephen Tooker. Two hundred? three hundred? No, seven hundred it says on this piece of paper.
How can there be 700 varieties of daylilies?
What a wonderful world this is.
It is an experience such as on first looking into the Tookers' garden that causes me to re-embrace my amateur status. In case we human beings ever gets bored with all other sources of amusment and learning, there is always so much to learn about -- to use a word we can all relate to -- flowers.
On last weekend's visit to Collamore Field Gardens (my first), though the daylilies were present in their hundreds I tried to focus on one or two varieties to make a single-step, incremental addition to my knowledge base in the field of Hemerocallis (the scientific word, I deduced, for daylilies). I even bought my two new varieties -- new to me -- but alas by the time I arrived home their names had eluded me.
Nevertheless, I'm looking forward to their blossoming, in season, June or July, when I intend to make up in admiration what I lack in science.
Since it's too early in the season for daylilies to flower, last weekend's annual plant sale at Collamore Field Gardens, Stephen posted photos of the many varieties for sale on the outside wall of the barn. You could look at the photo, learn the name, and then walk over to the area where daylilies potted up for sale, by the score -- several hundred of these -- waited for us row on row in their staging area. Arranged in alphabetical order with clearly written name labels.
Even before daylily season, the these gardens are a flower museum, with many species in flower. Stephen pointed out some primrose to me with long stems, two feet or so, before the blossoms start. When I picked out some other "shade tolerant" specimens he had potted for the sale, he showed me what they looked like, fully grown and expanding.
Shade tolerant are two of my favorite words. I am so looking for color in my shade garden. If the two babies I bought grow up to look like the one in his garden, I will jump for joy and pass out cigars (or some healthier substitute).
I bought a few other plants because they were also nicely potted, on sale, and either blooming or about to bloom, and I always go for the doggie in the window. I know the name of one of these because Stephen wrote it down for me after I tried to take his display sign with me as a reminder. It's Pulmonaria Silver Streamers Lungwort. Sounds like a respiratory infection, but its appearance is a breath of fresh air.
As for my acquaintance with Collamore Field's well populated universe of daylilies I intend to improve it with a return visit some weekend in June or July when the garden, I have no doubt, will be

dressed to kill.