Imagine, for a moment, Darth Vader holding a daylily scape in his hand instead of a light saber. He’s exhorting Luke Skywalker to come on over to the dark side, but instead of talking about the Force, he’s speaking of velvety soft and dark daylily blooms. How could Luke ever resist?
Okay, maybe you don’t like the Darth Vader analogy. I always did have a certain sympathy for him even though he was a baddie in bad mask and a black cape.
Instead, imagine another black-caped character, this time a crusader who comes complete with his own mansion and bat cave. What if he also had a garden? What kind of plants would Batman place within its borders? Money would be no object in this garden of the Dark Knight. Daylilies of every dusky persuasion would definitely be there along with dark-hearted ‘Black Dragon’ coleus or perhaps ‘Patent Leather?‘ ‘Purple Knight’ alternanthera, ‘Black Knight’ cannas and ‘Velvet Cloak’ smokebush would definitely be on the plant list.
Ooh, I simply must do a Batman garden post someday. I was never into Superman, all perfection, truth and the American way–whatever that is. Instead, give me the darker, smoldering heroes who fight for justice under their own particular code. Wolverine, anyone?
Twice a year, my daylily club, the Central Oklahoma Hemerocallis Society, has a sale. Club members always steer the purple and red daylily aficionados over to me with wry smiles and bemused head shakes. Seems they don’t understand the call of smoldering red and purple twilight. All daylily lovers have their favorites, ruffled, spidery, trumpet-like, UFs and spiders, but hardly anyone in the club enjoys the dark reds and purples I grow. I still soldier on with the idea that I’ll convert someone…anyone to my side.
Come on over to daylily’s dark side with me, and I’ll show you a real good time.
Like Darth Vader in his famous, yet unsuccessful scene, I’m making a case for daylilies of the purple and red persuasion. Here goes.
Dusky purples and burning reds set off lighter blooms with the panache that only intensity can provide. For it’s only against the darkness, that you can truly perceive the brightness and beauty of the light.
- The original complaint of daylily fandom was that dark colors “melted in the sun.” Well, all daylilies melt in summer’s hot rays. Daylilies are primarily made up of water. It’s the price they pay for all that diamond dusting and shiny new blooms each day. We may notice that the dark ones feel the sun’s rays more quickly, but hybridizers have, in the last few years, made huge strides in creating daylilies that are more sunfast–at least until 4:00 p.m.
- They also say dark daylilies show more thrip damage. Guilty. They do. However, once the weather gets hot, thrips seem to disappear. If you choose dark daylilies that bloom later in the season, you won’t see as much damage. There is a bit of thrip damage on ‘Wild Apple Autumn’ below, but who cares?
- Dark daylilies show water spots. Again, yes, but if you don’t water overhead with sprinklers, this isn’t a concern. I water with drip irrigation. In Oklahoma, we shouldn’t be watering with overhead sprinklers anyway. Tell that to my husband who insists on watering the vegetable garden with a sprinkler, but that’s another story for another day.
You may be wondering if my entire garden is dark and tiresome looking. Not so. There is plenty of other color from daylilies, shasta daisies, black-eyed Susans and other plants that the darkness is no worry.
Intensity can come from deep orange daylilies too. Just look at the double. H. ‘Guadalajara’ below. It’s finally starting to double now that summer has heated up. Oh, and don’t forget daylilies like H. ‘Black Sheep’ and H. ‘Orange City’ with their sultry eyezones either. I think ‘Black Sheep’ would look great with a dark purple daylily just behind it and to the right. Another one to shop for! Maybe ‘Ancient of Days’ would fit the bill.
I hope my photos and words tempt you a little to take a walk on the dark side. Just take in all this vampiric beauty and tell me you don’t want to play a little on the darker side of life–in the garden anyway–that is.