Little Grapette. In my garden, looks more like Little Bran Muffin.
Daylilies are really useful plants. As Susan pointed out this week, they are extremely drought tolerant. They also grow in wet soil near my country pond, in full sun and surprising amounts of shade, too. Real troopers. They have great foliage that adds architecture to a border. They start blooming in earnest now, when a lot of other perennials are taking a mid-summer siesta. They saved me $14,000 that a mason wanted to charge me for a retaining wall. I planted the bank instead with $300 worth of daylilies. They look great and their finger-like roots hold the hillside in place.
In sum, there’s nothing for daylily breeders to feel insecure about. They have a great product. So why all the marketing hyperbole when it comes to color? Last year, I planted two dozen "Pandora’s Box," which, I was promised by the catalog, were white and purple. They were "white" like white underwear washed hot with an orange sock. So I replaced them with Little Grapette, which I was assured, was a rich purple. Purple, my eye. My plants are brownish maroon. In no way do they do anything for my purple, white, and tomato red color scheme.
Tomato red, you say? That ought to be obtainable in the daylily world. Only, just yesterday, shopping for a pond filter at Lowe’s, I passed a table full of Red Rum. Were they red? No. More of a burnt orange.
I remember the late, great Mrs. Greenthumbs in her first book telling the story of sending away for 100 bargain daylilies, all different, planting them, waiting patiently for a year or two for the minuscule fans to flower–and discovering that they were 100 shades of orange.
Pandora’s Box: "White" as a shade of orange
Now, daylilies are plenty colorful. Any plant that succeeds in shades of yellow, orange, peach, scarlet, and brownish maroon is doing all right. So why this obsession with color, or rather with covering the color wheel, however sloppily? Daylily catalogs are even organized by color. And many of the classifications could cause an arched eyebrow, at best.
I think it’s bad business to gloss over reality that way. If I’m buying a brown plant, I want to know.