Just in this past week my daylilies have begun to bloom. Years and years ago I never paid attention to daylilies, which I never seemed to even notice beyond roadside orange daylilies. But daylilies have an amazing history and have gotten more various and beautiful over the last hundred years.
Daylilies originated in Asia over 400 years ago; the orange daylilies we all recognize. Then they started travelling through Europe beginning in the 1800s. They even made their way to the United States. Dr. Arlow Burdette Stout (1856-1957) born in Wisconsin taught botany at the University of Wisconsin. In 1911 he moved to New York and became the Director of Laboratories at the New York Botanical Garden. During his years there he hybridized about 100 new daylilies. He also wrote the book Daylilies which was considered the essential and necessary book on growing daylilies. This was the beginning of the love of daylilies in gardens.
I finally started paying closer attention to daylilies when a friend took me to the Ollalie Daylily Farm in South Newfane many years ago. This daylily farm has an extensive number of daylilies, some created by Dr. George Darrow who started hybridizing daylilies in his retirement. In 1979 he had his son and grandson, Dan and Christopher Darrow, start moving pieces of his daylilies to South Newfane, Vermont. Christopher has now hybridized daylilies as well.
The farm was named Olallie North in honor of Dr. Darrow’s farm in Maryland opened officially in 1993. Ollalie North is a beautiful place to visit. If you are there in season you can also buy some Darrow blueberries.
I have a hard time keeping track of my daylilies’ names. I do know that Ollalie Lass is correctly named, as is Pink Ruffles which I bought a couple of years ago at the gorgeous Stone Meadow Gardens in Ashfield.
For more information about daylilies visit the American Daylily Society.