Would any everyday gardener put up with sick looking foliage on tulips, daffodils, irises, peonies or perennials when they emerge in spring? The answer is no. Then why do we, in the AHS, subliminally agree to tolerate the goo-balls and tangled, browned ‘fans’ of Evergreen daylilies upon emergence, throughout most of the country?

Healthy dormant at Patterned Daylilies 2/21/17
When we hybridize with evergreens we get results that will not satisfy anybody who craves beauty and health as an integral part of their existence. What is ornamental gardening for if not the fulfillment of those pure aesthetic energies?  What about the serious gardener who enjoys collecting the latest varieties? It just doesn’t do the WONDERFUL GENUS of Hemerocallis justice.

What are the factors playing into this increasingly shady issue? Money is likely the biggest. Status too. They usually go together. In the 80’s and 90’s several large daylily nurseries were established in central Florida. They set up business and sold very large quantities of evergreen daylilies, hybridized in a sub-tropical climate (thus multiplying quickly). These varieties commanded high prices, much higher than a typical perennial, about 2,000% higher. Yeah, no kidding. And they weren’t even hardy. They were tender and prone to disease. These evergreens were very well-suited to Florida, but little place else. However, they were widely disseminated across the entire country and into Canada. Most performed in a very substandard way. Many declined or perished…because they are not cold hardy – winter hardy. And it gets cold in most of the USA. Good and frosty cold.

Healthy dormant at Patterned Daylilies 2/21/17
Why then, did people buy these daylilies? I’ll tell you why. We bought them on faith, and we wanted them because advancements were made in terms of ruffling, edges and heavy substance. It is very tempting to buy something when opening a catalog filled with (sometimes color enhanced) gorgeous photographs during a long cold winter. Gardeners and hybridizers shelled out gladly for the exotic beauties. There was a sense of glamour and newness, like discovering a new galaxy full of glittering stars. Many upcoming hybridizers used these varieties to hybridize with, wanting to emulate the big breeders or just have a bit of the BIG ROMANCE. Because that’s what all this evergreen business is – a big romance, one that cannot endure on substance or quality over time.

Evergreen 2/21/17
Every member of a society, group, community or neighborhood wants to feel that they have something of value to contribute. As a tribal species this is indeed very instinctual and necessary for our wellbeing. When individuals do their best to share their ideas and accomplishments with anticipatory joy and are subsequently ridiculed, the outcome is feeling they are of no viable consequence to the group, the tribe. But we are all of value. Every single member is of value in some very intrinsic way. More valuable than they know.

Some successful individuals set out to deliberately manipulate the system to win a disproportionately huge number of awards. Administrators and committee members write a disproportionately high number of Journal articles. There is precious little chance for the average, humble member of personal integrity to be appreciated, get noticed at all, none the less win an award or see their name in print. Sure it happens from time to time on a token basis and then the implicit agreement is to be faithful to the 1%. This is what is going on in the American Hemerocallis Society today. It is fashioned and shaped behind the scenes for that top 1% to reap the glory.

normal perennial monarda emerging 2/21/17

Evergreen 2/21/17
Membership has plummeted. From 12,000 members to currently scraping just 5,000 members we still hear self-congratulatory remarks concerning the ‘buoyancy’ of membership, as if we are now proud of our inflatable-raft emergency. Only dropped a few percent in the last few months? Well fine then, no reason to panic. Let’s keep leaning into the oligarchy and build it ever stronger. Some members simply jumped ship to avoid this pressure chamber but many were given a firm push. And I was given that push myself but my husband dried my tears and told me I wasn’t a quitter. All this, because I reported what I observed in an honest way. A kindly put truth I might say. I wrote a solicited article about daylily dormancy for the AHS journal that was incredibly, rudely rejected. It went on to be well received by a very large proportion of members and published elsewhere by individuals of integrity and high standards for the beloved daylily. It is too difficult for me to say nothing after this recent high-jacking of self-evident facts - in regards to changing the word dormant to deciduous. All in order to confabulate the real meaning of the term dormant and lull northerners again. Can we just act like rational people and not go along with what some radical person is purporting? I really hope so.


  1. I am not privvy to as many details as you, but I am a daylily outsider that strives to not get caught up by the hype and irresponsible behaviors in the name of money and prestige prioritized above the future well-being of the daylily. When I see problems in any new hem that has some trait I want, I strive to fix the problems and mold the offspring into paragons of the north rather than riding the hype train that is bound to perpetuate the problem; but certain to inflate the profits for those that stay on it. When the hype is manufactured from lies, ignorance and notoriety (false news and groupies), it is a huge problem that few realize. There are plenty of other standards and practices besides churning out fancy evergreens that represent similar, if not worse, detriments to a fortunate future for the daylily. The daylily bubble is over and should be rebuilt carefully.

    I know I wouldn't have used the same words, but I commend you for speaking the truth as you see it. You named names without naming names, which is in very short supply these days and sorely needed to make reasonable choices and informed decisions even if it embarrasses the transgressors. I would be interested to hear you expound on the switch to the deciduous term and how it obfuscates the issues once again for northern gardeners. Maybe I haven't been paying attention close enough.


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