“Good morning! Don’t you look lovely today?” I say as I walk though the beds early in the mornings. This is my daily ritual - rain or shine - for the six weeks of the daylily bloom season. Some days it is well worth the surprises that I find, and others it all I can do to drag myself out into the rain to tend to the chores that are calling my name.
Breeding Daylilies is a labor of love and one that I never thought would be part of my life, but I find myself drawn to the beauty, simplicity and joy of being an artist in the pallet of the world. I often walk the beds quietly observing the differences in each plant carefully planning each cross that I will make the next day. There are other days when I am in a hurry and will just grab pollen and hit everything worth looking at and some that are not.
My children from the C bed were in full bloom for the second year in a row when I noticed a lovely lemon yellow with a large dark crisp purple eye on a well branched scape. I continued to walk the beds contemplated which one of my current favorites was going to get the honor of being used on the beauty that I had just found.
Final I decided that if TK1 was blooming I would use it on the new find. I walked all the way across the four acres of flowers and sure enough TK1 had several blooms open. I took an anther of pollen from a bloom and headed back across the year with a huge grin and a gleam in my eye as the vision of the kids danced in my head. Pollination complete, I continued about the rest of my work.
Seed harvesting began as September approached. Once again, as I was recording crosses for my stud books I was blown away with the cross and hoped that the seeds would germinate next winter.
Planting seeds in a freezing greenhouse that has the heat off for the winter will make me quickly wonder why I would choose to torture myself this way. Honestly all care about is getting the seeds in to the seedling trays and numbered – not who the parents are.
As the seedlings start to sprout, again I am thinking, “Crap! This is a lot to plant by hand”, and “Why did I do this to myself?” Come the middle of May, planting these seeds in the fields is in full swing and by this time I am hating my little labors of love and wishing that were less of them. After they are all planted, nothing happens with them for a year (with the exception of have a fit over pulling all of the weeds,) so all the images of the daylily babies have disappeared and the entire bed is ignored and forgotten.
As spring the following year approaches, I began again to start dreaming of all of the wonderful things that could or could not happen in the seedling field and from those tiny seeds. When that first flower blooms in the spring it is amazing that it can be the ugliest thing I have ever done but to me it will be a gorgeous beauty…at least until its brother blooms.However, this year about midseason I was walking the beds and I stopped in my tracks. I thought
there has to be a mistake. I walked back, found the tag that stated who the parents were, shook my head,
walked back to the flower, stood there some more and finally I started to cry tears of joy. I had done it! I
had created a flower that looked like nothing anyone in the daylily world has ever seen. I must have stood
there remembering back to the day that I created the cross, smiling I thought to myself, “It was totally
worth all of the work!”