Thursday, June 24, 2010

Daylilies & the First Day of Summer

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Susan reports:

Here in the northeast United States, daylilies always seem to be in bloom on the first day of summer. No matter how cold or warm or wet or dry spring has been, the lilies are ready by the twenty-first of June, waving trumpets of bright orange by the side of road. Their genus name is Hemerocallis, or 'beautiful for a day,' both for their loveliness and for the fact that each bloom only lasts from dawn to nightfall. 

Although they're considered a wild flower now (and something of a pest if they take over a garden), perennial daylilies are like peonies, long-ago transplants from Asia. Also like peonies, the lilies have been bred into thousands of modern hybrids. The original daylilies were recorded centuries ago in Mongolia, India, Korea, China, and Japan, and growing in locations that ranged from swamps to forests to the tops of mountains. Given their hardiness as well as their beauty, the lilies were brought to Western Europe in the middle ages, and then made the voyage across the Atlantic to North America with early English settlers in the 17th c. By the late 19th c., they had become so ubiquitous that the flowers were also called Tiger Lilies, Railroad Lilies, Roadside Lilies, or even (most humbly!) Outhouse Lilies.

Happy summer!

Above: June, 2010: Daylilies growing outside the churchyard of the Baptist Church of the Great Valley, founded by Welsh settlers in 1711.

7 comments:

Amy DeTrempe said...

I call them ditch lilies and have them all over my yard. I love them. Had no idea that had that kind of history though. Guess I shouldn't refer to them as ditch lilies any more.

LaDonna said...

My grandmother's back yard was full of these, all around the trees. She called them Tiger Lilies.

Rosemary said...

My grandmother always lived in the city. A lily sprouted in the corner of her mostly paved yard. She thought that she had something rare and precious,until she observed during a ride into the country that they seemed to grow around outhouses.

These are always the first signs of greenery to sprout before spring

The Down East Dilettante said...

I actually prefer a mass of these to even the most splendid hybrid daylilies---just simple, perfect and elegant. Amazing in bloom.

Sandra Carney said...

Such beautiful flowers! How meaningful to see them planted in that ancient graveyard too. Life, lilies, summer, all are precious, dear, and fleeting.

Margaret Evans Porter said...

Mmmm, you know how I love flower photos! The day lilies are coming out in New England as well...first the yellow ones, then the orange. I grow neither but have a wine-coloured one that blooms slightly later.

Finegan Antiques said...

I love day lilies. I feel they are a true symbol of summer just like fireworks,hammocks and lemonade. They surround my backyard and I get a thrill each evening watching fire flies, or my more affectionate name of fire faries, flitting from one long leaf to another.

Donna

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