Tried and True


Gardeners are always experimenting, and a long-tended garden is one where lots of plant experiments have been tried with a mix of success and failure. I've lived with my garden for enough years to have seen the shady parts turn sunny (dead trees) and the sunny parts turn shady (growing trees). I've spent plenty of money on expensive hybrids of lilies, daylilies, hydrangeas, and roses (my mainstays), only to see them struggle and fade. It's not surprising, given my style of haphazard gardening. l do ask my plants to thrive on a certain amount of neglect, so that's why I rely on a few tried and true flowers. The showiest (and bossiest) of these are my orange daylilies. From the end of May to the first week of July, they put on a spectacular show. I grew up calling them Tiger Lilies, but they're not the fancy Asian lilies that go by that name. Mine are the old standard daylilies that are now disparaged as—horrors!—invasive species. Tawny or Orange Daylilies (Hemerocallis fulva) are also called Ditch Lilies because they grow so tenaciously and spread with such vigor. They originated in Asia, but they're so widely distributed throughout America, they're often mistaken for a native species. You won't find them in any garden centers, so if you're brave enough to grow them, you'll have to ask a friend to share. Which is another reason why I love my tried and true tigers. Every fall I have to dig up along the edges of the bed to keep the daylilies from strangling their neighbors and taking over more real estate. I always have plenty to give away!