So often is June chilly with storms that blow bridges to pieces that we should be grateful for anexceptional month, sunny (drought, of course) and warm, with a few days hot enough to suggest high summer. Often real summer does not begin until July, so the heat was very welcome indeed.
Daylilies, as a result, are a bit early for me this year. Two oldish varieties I greatly like are 'Corky' and 'Golden Chimes.' These are miniatures, with flowers the size of silver dollars in great profusion on stems waist high. Corky is canary-lemon with brown or bronze flushes on the exterior ribs of the flowers, and the other is a saturated full yellow, also brushed outside with bronze. Neither is fragrant.
When I first saw them years ago I could not rest till I acquired them, and now all these years later I have never got tired of them.
Of course, if you get smitten by these agreeable summer creatures there is no end to the new varieties available. There was a time in my life, 25 years ago, that I could not comprehend a friend of mine who had quite out-of-date varieties in his garden. Sometimes I would offer him divisions from newer and better kinds, but he said it had taken a few years to get his daylilies grown into huge clumps, and he didn't feel like starting over.
I now know the real trouble -- he didn't have great space in the garden for adding new varieties, and could not face getting rid of the kinds that had brightened so many summers. So he simply went about and admired the fine new kinds in other people's gardens, and kept the ones years out of date. And certainly they made a grand show.
Speaking of which, the free and highly instructive daylily show will be held July 5 in the auditorium of the National Arboretum's admin- istration building, from 1 to 5.
It is always worthwhile to visit the daylily collection at the arboretum -- unlike the one-day show of cut specimens the collection of plants is there all year, of course, and from late spring on into August there are daylilies to see. I would go out right now for a visit, returning about July 4 and again two weeks later, since varieties bloom at different times. Usually the greatest display of massed bloom is around the Fourth.
Sometimes I have trouble finding my way around the collection of wild daylilies there (only a very small part of the collection, most of which consists of named garden varieties) because the labels are hard to find. You may have to get down on the ground and paw delicately to find the permanent metal labels -- the more temporary display labels seem to disappear here, as in every other public garden, since children and other ravening beasts seem to be fond of pulling them up.
But the wild species from Asia are beautiful, apart from their role in the breeding of garden varieties.
It is sometimes a mistake for gardeners to give plants to people, and sometimes rewarding. Sometimes people don't even plant their gifts, a sad state of affairs when the donor has gone to much sweat and bother to dig them up, wash and label them.
Oneyear I gave a quite large clump of 'Golden Chimes' to some Boston cousins passing through the capital. I divided my own large clump in half, so they would not have to wait four or five years for a good show. Why I was so generous I cannot imagine. But the point is, I was in their Boston garden last year and behold, there it was in bloom, flourishing mightily. So I was glad I had given it.
But before you go digging things up, make sure they are really wanted. And you will notice most people are too lazy to come pick the plants up; they expect you to deliver them. If people are not interested enough to fetch them, they are not very interested. I learned that with dogs -- they should be priced fairly, if you are breeding a fine litter, because even if you don't care about the money, the dogs fare better if somebody has paid for them.
If you give somebody a plant that may sell for $40, he will assume you have it coming out your ears and not value it, but if he buys it somewhere it will be one of his prized possessions.