Tuesday, August 30, 2011

'Midnight Barbara Blossom' daylily

Bob Anderson of Midnight Gardens has given me the greatest gift: a daylily he’s named ‘Midnight Barbara Blossom!’ Here’s how Bob describes it:
“I think this flower is especially notable for the saturated red base color, metallic finish, black-red veining and chevron eye.” YES!
It all began when I visited his nursery on a sunny morning in July, with my friend Donna. This was my second year in a row to check out the beds, sparkling with pink, red, orange, yellow, purple and lavender daylilies.
Bob took us on a tour, pointing out some of the latest hybrids, like ‘Emerald Starburst,’ with green and wine flowers.
“It’s a cutting edge color,” he said. “Bigger blooms and intense colors are what people are drawn to.”
We took a close look at ‘Midnight Velvet Touch,” a rich black red, with good branching and high bud count. Then Bob showed us ‘Lemon Lollypop.’
“It’s the first daylily to bloom, and repeats, with three flushes of bloom, and good blue-green foliage,” he said. I scribbled a note to myself to buy it. A little voice inside whispered You don’t need any more daylilies. I replied, Yes I do!
While we strolled along, Bob’s friend Loraine, was steadily deadheading and weeding.
“I’m a weed killer,” she declared, demonstrating her mission with a hand-held mattock. “I help Bobby out—it’s fun to watch it all grow.” Loraine likes to be known as the “Weed Wolf.”
Now some growers are great with plants, yet shy away from people, but Bob has a wonderful way with plants and humans. So before long Donna, Bob, Loraine, and I were chatting away like old friends. That morning visit had turned into a plant lovers’ party.
At one point Bob asked me to choose a favorite seedling. As a hybridizer, he crosses many daylilies to create new cultivars, but keeps only about 20% of his seedlings, those which are clearly better than similar ones already on the market. One dark wine daylily with a spidery shape kept calling to me. A yellow throat and streaks of white along the petals in a starburst pattern made the burgundy-red pop. To me, the texture looked like satin, and the petals recurved at the edges. “That one!” I said, pointing to the dark beauty.
Pretty soon Bob got busy with other visitors. Donna and I placed our orders for daylilies, waved goodbye to Bob and Loraine, and slipped away. We would pick our plants up later in the summer when it was the right time for Bob to divide and dig the daylilies for his customers.
A week or so later I received a beautiful handwritten card from Bob in the mail, asking if he could name the burgundy daylily for me. The new plant, ‘Midnight Barbara Blossom,’ will be introduced in 2012. But Bob went even further. Last Saturday he dug divisions of the daylily for Donna and me to plant in our gardens right now! I can hardly wait until next summer to see it bloom again.

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