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Daylilies | the sensual flower that keeps on giving.

Daylilies | the sensual flower that keeps on giving.

The Daylily is undoubtedly one of the stars of the summer garden. Planted within any scheme these pretty trumpet shaped perennials are incredibly eye catching. True to their name, the Day Lily blooms for 24 hours but each plant produces many flowers meaning their flowering time can last for weeks on end. Typically a flower is produced in the early morning which then withers during the following night. This flower is then replaced, often on the same stalk, by another one the next morning. It’s one of these plants that just keeps on giving.

The plant itself originates in Eurasia-China, Japan and Korea and is thought to have been first mentioned for its medicinal properties in 656 A.D. in the Chinese medical book called Materia Medica. Interestingly many varieties of the Day lily are edible and commonly used in Asian cuisines. They are also said to have many health aiding benefits such as detoxing the body and curing insomnia amongst many others.

The Latin name of the day lily is Hemerocallis and comes from the Greek words Hemera, meaning day and Kalso, which means beautiful. There are over 60,000 registered cultivars of this perennial and the colours and varieties are seemingly endless. From deep reds to pale yellows, these flowers work as well in fiery schemes of oranges and yellows as they do in contrast to cooler schemes of blue and purple.

One of my favourites is the elegant and strong Hemerocallis ‘Entrapment’. Not only does it have a much alluring name, its colour, shape and floriferous nature makes it a very appealing plant. The strong stems of this wonderful perennial are topped with unapologetically sensual flowers which open up to form fleshy purple pink flowers with a yellow throat and dusty orange stamens at the centre.

They are incredibly easy to grow and caring for the daylily is really quite simple. The plant likes sun but can also do well in partial shade and being fully frost hardy. If you get your hands on one of these stunning specimens then be sure to plant it in well drained, fertile soil. It is also advised to add some well rotten manure or compost which will give the plant a good start.  It is best to avoid heavy shade as well as borders that are too dry in the summer. The one thing I have had issues with particularly this year are slugs and as always I would advise using copper shavings, coil or simply lots of old copper coins scattered around the base of the plants to avoid the fabulous flowers getting devoured overnight.

Within a design scheme I love planting these in a mix of perennials with different shapes and love seeing them planted with plants that contrast in terms of texture and shape.

3 of my favourite Daylilies

With there being over 60,000 registered cultivars of Daylily it is understandably hard to single out a few. Here I have chosen three from my own garden which delight year after year.

  1. Hemerocallis ‘Entrapment’

This flower is so beautiful in its own right that I love leaving it space to show off its beauty.  The best way to do it is to surround it with the softness and contrast. I love grasses with this one-think the soft flowing shapes of the Stipa Tenuissima and how it would support the plant rather than crowd it.  Perfect is also the umbellifered cowslip -Anthriscus sylvestris, who’s flower head ruffles translucently in contrast to the strong form of the Lily.

  1. Hemerocallis ‘Pink Charm’

The lovely Hemerocallis ‘Pink Charm’, whose orange flower opens up to reveal delicate pink lined petals and a fiery yellow centre is wonderful planted in contrast in shape and colour to the globe shaped, blue coloured, seedheads of the Echinops or Globe thistle beside it as seen here at Birr Castle Gardens.

  1. Hemerocallis ‘Stafford’

This one produces stunning burgundy flowers with yellow throat and stripes. Definitely one that won’t be ignored in the border and when planting it think ‘fun’. What about adding in some yellow Rudbeckia fulgida (also known as Black eyed Susan) and a few Phlox paniculata ‘Kirchenfürst’ for a cheeky mix of Cherry Pink and red.

plant source

Beautiful companions for Daylilies

How to combine your star plant.

Making the most of these beautiful flowers in your border is best done with clever companion planting. Daylilies have gorgeous sword like leaves, similar to the Iris which in themselves are structural and strong. It is advisable to add in more textures and colour interests to the border to support the delicate Daylily. The below flowers are lovely options that will work well no matter which variety of Daylily you choose as your star flower.

  1. Echinops: Echinops or globe thistles are great structural plants to support other perennials. The round flowers are so beautiful and the purple blue foliage is a perfect companion for the Daylily.
  1. Nepeta varieties: These are great because of its ruffled spires and blue-blue colour. Together with any of the Dallies they will give a lovely cool contrast and give fluffy texture to the scheme.
  1. Phlox paniculata ‘Blue Paradise’: Border Phlox works in almost any scheme. With daylilies it adds a little softness to the flower level. The multitude of flowers on one head makes a nice contrast the one strong flower on the Lily. The delicious scent is an added bonus!
  1. Erysium ‘Bowles Mauve’: This is one addition that just keeps blooming and supports the Daylily when there are small gaps in flower. It works particularly well with the larger light coloured Daylilies such as the stunning large flowered white ‘Gentle Shepherd’.
  1. Astelia ‘Silver Shadow’: For a bit of evergreen structure the Astelia is a wonderful addition. Its silver sword-shaped leaves act as great support both structurally and visually to surrounding planting and will be a welcome addition when all other perennials die down in the Autumn. A very useful companion.


leonie-cornelius-colin-gillen-daylily-hazelwood-house-garden-woodies-4Hazelwood House | WB, Copper stills and modern Art

What the future holds for this Palladian gem.

Set on the peninsula on the edge of Lough Gill in County Sligo, this 18th Century Palladian house was designed by Richard Cassells, the same German Architect who designed Leinster House, Powerscourt House and Russborough House. The house, which has gone through many generations of owners, is set in  the middle of the famous Hazelwood forest,  the setting for WB Yeat’s poem ‘The Song of Wandering Aengus’, and its grounds include an old Nylon factory and later Saehan- a video cassette factory. This factory has already been open to the public last year as part of a major pop up art Exhibition entitled ‘Magnetism’ which was a great taste of what’s to come in the future for this historic house and site.

It’s also a sign of what the new owners of the house-software developer David Raethorn and family, have in mind for the overall project. On a recent visit I was very impressed with the progress the on-site team is making in developing the grounds and preparing the way for the exciting future projects.  One very ambitious one is will see the old factory converted into a luxury Whiskey distillery. Architectural details will see the unsightly factory and the Palladian mansion brought together by means of clever visual reflection in the facade of the distillery and the large Copper stills will surely be a fascinating topic of debate. Other plans in the pipeline are a cafe, large landscaped gardens, indoor and out, zip-lines, art galleries and many more exciting projects which will see Hazelwood shine even more than it ever has. A fascinating way to bring fresh, modern ideas to Ireland’s first work of Palladian Architecture. WB would surely have approved!

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