I recently covered the DC-area Daylily Club Show at a garden center I write for, and did some poking around about how this and other shows and the societies that sponsor them are doing locally and nationally. I learned that nationally, membership in the American Hemerocallis Society is now about 7,500, down from over 12,000 just a few years ago. The local DC chapter‘s membership has dropped from over 300 to its current roster of 138 members. The number of entrants in their annual shows has also declined over the last decade or two.
So, why is that? One local member believes that the growing deer population in our area is reducing the popularity of daylilies, known to be deer candy on the level of hostas. Another complained about the increasing seen warnings that daylilies are invasive, which is often true of the common orange “ditch lily” but not at all of the 70,000+ named varieties – the only ones on the market. And sure, edibles are all the rage these days, and while daylilies ARE, they’re not generally grown for that purpose. They’re strictly ornamental to most of us.
But besides the deer problem and the invasiveness-scare problem, it seems to me daylilies should be as popular as ever, if not more so, for their sustainability, specifically their super-drought-tolerance and generally pest-free nature. No-maintenance plants? Check. They’re even easy to ship, and will survive the worst treatment imaginable, something I learned by leaving a shipment of them on my back porch for 6 weeks until I remembered to plant them. They daylilies shrugged and bloomed on schedule.
Declines across Species?
I’m betting that single-species societies and shows are losing membership across the board but haven’t done the research so I’ll ask – are readers noticing a trend like that? Me, I like to grow lots of different plants that look great together rather than collect a single species, but then collecting has never appealed to me, so I can’t explain the change. Could it be tied to a demographic change, where today most wives also work and have less time for gardening as a serious hobby? Because this collecting and showing stuff is definitely gardening at the level of serious hobby. And though it’s not MY thing, I find it very cool that other people do it. Really, that people are genuinely passionate about any hobby strikes me a good thing; when it’s a plant-related hobby, especially so.
So readers, what are you seeing, and if you’re seeing declines in societies, why do you think that is?