Craig Barnes: serious about finding me the right daylily
What a heavenly way to shop! To wander among acres of gardens with hundreds of choices, in the company of someone like owner Craig Barnes, who pointed out things I would never notice myself, such as which varieties I might not want because they had a low bud-count and hence a short blooming season. The fact that Barnes is also a painter–quite a good one, according to my friends–didn’t hurt either, as we consulted on color.
I suddenly think everybody should visit growers! Right to the source! No more photographic color swindles! Judge for yourself! Since daylilies are not the flower to make me lose my head, I’m likely only to make a pest of myself at Slate Hill Farm once a year or so. But, man, if I lived near Plant Delights, they’d never get me out of their hair!
And who knows, Slate Hill Farm might even turn me into a convert, I liked their plants so much.
Even better than the shopping experience was the way Mary Barnes decided to occupy my children: First she fed them daylily petals. My kids, who’d eaten nasturiums in the backyard before but never giant flowers like these, were thrilled to stuff lavender and yellow petals into their mouths. Then she taught them, incredibly enough, how to hybridize daylilies. And they are not just invited back next weekend to start distinguishing between diploids and tetraploids for hybridization purposes, they are invited back in two years to see the flowers that their crosses produced.
Mary Barnes teaching my kids about the birds and the bees
With hybridization on the brain, I asked Craig about the intellectual property issues. Do you get royalties if you produce a really great flower? Licensing fees? Do you control it? Can you keep just anybody from propagating it?
"Na," he said. "You want your flowers to get out into the world. That way, if a famous hybridizer takes one of yours and uses it in a cross and produces a good flower, you’ll become better known. Everybody’s really generous about sharing credit."
Doesn’t sound much like Hollywood.
Their goal in hybridization, according to Mary, "is to make daylilies that look like daylilies. So many introductions are so gaudy."
Many of the cultivars now auditioning in their fields, on the other hand, are really subtle. I would have bought either of the as-yet-unnamed varieties below if they were for sale.
It’s not, sadly, going to make my hell strip resemble the fields of Slate Hill Farm. But it is going to class up the neighborhood nonetheless.