Sunday, February 8, 2015

Finger Lakes Charlie Z.

      Sometime in the mid-nineties, before I began growing daylilies myself, I remember hearing about a wonderful daylily garden near Cobbs Hill Park. So one July morning I set out to find it. I drove around for a bit, and then turned as if by chance into a little cul-de-sac facing a field. When I stepped out of the car, a man wearing a baseball cap was walking toward me down the driveway. He said, "Welcome! How did you hear about the Open House?"

That was how I met Charlie Zettek, who became my friend and mentor in the art of hybidizing. Soon after this, Finger Lakes Daylily Society was born, and we both became charter members. 

This flower is a light mango orange with an olive heart. Hot vermilion flows out of the center and repeats at the crimped edge. The eye is bisected by a raised midrib. Petals gently flare, sepals recurve. As Charlie might say, it jumps out of the landscape and hits you in the eye. 

This was the most vigorous grower of this cross, and also had the highest budcount. Hardiness and vigor come from Dick Bennett's Genesee Fire, form and branching from David Kirchhoff's Marilyn Siwik. Lots of scapes and lots of flowers. Three- to four-way branching with a budcount of 30-plus.   

Finger Lakes Charlie Z. is my tribute to the man who opened his garden to me and taught me how to hybridize. 

Genesee Fire x Marilyn Siwik  
Flower 6 ¼” x 2 ½” x 1 ½”
Height 32”
Early midseason

Introduced at $100

Storybook Romance

In the storybook, there is always a happy ending. The stars align, obstacles disappear, and true love conquers all. 

What about a flower fantasy, where all the elements combine in a way that spells romance?

There is a sweet convergence of colors in this flower, capturing some of the deep blue-lavenders from the Munson grandparents as well as the Munson watermark. The color is raspberry-violet with highlights of blue and pink, set off by a complementary watermark in lavender-peach. The lemon throat shades to a deep green heart, and the petals are encircled with a white-gold edge to complete the flower. 

Good grower and increaser. Three-way branching, with a budcount of 15. Lots of buds and flowers.

(Court Magician x Big Blue) x Glass Bead Game
Flower 5 ½ x 2 ½ x 1 ½
Height 24-29"
Early Midseason

Introduced at: $95

Ikarian Honey

 Ikarian Honey in shade

Out of the blue waters of the Aegean Sea rise the mountains of Ikaria. On this "healing island," the native islanders often reach a great age, and dementia is virtually unknown. Here you will find sea breezes, clear mountain air, and the hot springs that have been famed for their healing powers for millennia. 

Ikaria is known also for the extraordinary honey produced by the native bees. Could this honey have healing powers too?

The color is an intriguing blend of bronze and gold above a lemon and chartreuse throat. On hot days the bronze seems to catch fire and takes on tones of rust and copper. 

The heavy flowers open flat and face out for best effect. Very fragrant. Hard dormant and a strong grower.
             Ikarian Honey in full sun
While the pollen parent Smuggler's Gold was not a stellar performer for me, this plant has hybrid vigor to spare. Starting in the last week of June, Ikarian Honey bursts into bloom and continues blooming for about three weeks. Three-way branching and a budcount of 15-20. 

Marmalade Skies x Smuggler's Gold
Flowers 6 x 3 x 1 3/4"
Height 26-30"
Early Midseason

Introduced at: $100

Black Key Polka

There's one kind of music that sets everybody's toes tapping--the polka! And when you play it on the black keys, you get a tune with some real pizzazz. Let's dance!

The deep red-violet inkblot eye spills out onto the petals and sepals almost like piano keys. The occasional extra petaloid or polymerous flower gives added interest. The orange anthers and butter-yellow base color make a strong contrast.

The mysterious spreading eye of Paper Butterfly has always fascinated me. Here it is on an open-faced flower atop a taller scape. Bob Brooks' Happy Bandit, the pollen parent, provides dormancy and a bit of twirl in the sepals. Starts last week of June here.

Paper Butterfly x Happy Bandit
Flower 6 x 2 1/2 x 1 1/2"
Height 28-32"
Early Midseason

Introduced at $95

Knight's Gambit

The game of hybidizing is a little like the game of chess. There comes a moment when you know instinctively what the next move should be. And when the outcome proves you right, there's a moment of sweet satisfaction--Ahhh! And then the game continues.

The flower is a deep saturated blue-purple (which my camera found difficult to capture, the result being too red) set off with a pencil-line of white along the ruffled petal edges. The yellow sunburst throat flows from a green heart into a watermark of alizarin crimson, with purple stamens giving added contrast.

Continuing our series of purple Knights, Knight's Gambit is a sib of 2013's Knight's Valor. In a mature clump it offers 4-way branching  with a budcount of 22. 

While not armor-plated, this Knight is a tough contender, retaining the best color, form, and substance of its sibs after a hot day. Holds its color even in the rain. A good increaser and a big vigorous plant. Very pod fertile. Reblooms.

Nordic Night x Robert Lee Batt
Flower 5 1/2 x 2 1/2 x 1 1/2
Height 30-36"

Introduced at $95

Butterscotch Marble

 As novice hybridizer, I thought the easiest way to make a purple rebloomer would be to cross Super Purple with Stella de Oro. When the results were laughable, I gave away all the seedlings--except for one that had an interesting butterscotchy look.

Butterscotch Marble covers itself with little rounded blooms that blend yellow, gold and butterscotch tones. Some red veins and orange streaks. You get twice as many flowers in the evening as the next day's flowers open on this nocturnal bloomer.

Each bloom is a unique swirl of butterscotch colors. Tiny gold pleats edge the sepals and there is often a red pencil edge on petals. A happy bloomer that starts mid-June here. An eager grower and increaser, with 2-3 way branching and a budcount up to 20. 

Stella de Oro x Super Purple
Flower 3 1/2 x 1 3/4 x 1 3/8"
Height 20-24"

Introduced at $35