Perennials Archives

The 2012 Daylily Flower Show

Behnkes was pleased to host the National Capital Area Daylily Club’s Annual Daylily Flower Show again this year – we naturally love hanging out with plant people.

The various classes of competition included the sizes (miniature, small and large), doubles, unusual forms, spiders, designs with daylilies, and “off-scape.”  That last one refers to flowers with no stems, which means the competitors don’t have to worry about unsightly spent blooms or other grooming issues involved with whole stems.  Below are three classes of daylily flowers displayed off-scape for judging.

The State of Daylily Clubs and Shows
Nationally, membership in the American Hemerocallis Society is now about 7,500, down from over 12,000 just a few years ago.  The local National Capital Daylily Club has similarly seen a drop in membership, 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?  It may be that gardeners are more interested in growing vegetables, or among ornamental plants they’re growing a large variety of plants rather than collecting just one.

Loyal Fans of Daylilies

Daylilies perform well in the toughest spots

On the Popularity of Daylilies
The plants themselves are as popular as ever, especially the heavily  marketed ‘Stella d’Oro’ and ‘Happy Returns.’  We hear less about any of the other 70,000 varieties because, as one member explained, they’re only marketed if they’re patented, and that’s a very expensive process to undertake.  But that doesn’t keep breeders from producing hundreds more every single year – a testament to how easy daylilies are to hybridize.

For today’s gardeners looking for low-maintenance, drought-tolerant, pest-free perennials that require little yet give back a lot, daylilies are a great choice.  Though nonnative, only the common orange “ditch lily” has ever exhibited invasive properties; the other 70,000+ varieties are worry-free.

Artists at Work

The design competition displays so much inventiveness and sense of fun, we can’t resist showing off an assortment for your enjoyment.

Posted by Susan Harris.


Larry’s Favorite Native Ferns

Click here to read this story now on our website (we moved it so it’s more easily found by readers over the years.)

Christmas Fern, (L) in Hurley Garden; (R) at Mt. Cuba, DE


With a brand new-to-me garden to fill up,  I need plant ideas, especially shade-loving perennials, so where better to look than the garden of our perennials specialist Larry Hurley?  So I paid a visit to his Bethesda garden this past weekend and saw lots to love, and learned a thing or two.

Around a large tree in the front yard, sweeps of epimediums and hostas sure look better than mulch, and more interesting than the common groundcovers for shade (I’m looking at you, ivy and pachysandra).

Above, Larry can’t keep his hands off those Epimediums.  On the right in this photo is a big favorite of mine – Euphorbia amygdaloides or Wood Spurge.  It’s evergreen!

In all its glory is the stunning native vine Lonicera sempervirens ‘Cedar Lane’.

Above, another gorgeous native plant – Phlox stolonifera ‘Sherwood Purple’.  It does well in both moist and dry shade.

Above, two of Larry’s many varieties of Heuchera, both paired to great effect with Hakonechloa (also known as Japanese forest grass).  Larry prefers the Heuchera villosas because they’re so long-lived.

Above, newly emerging Hosta ‘Sagea’ and a bronze-colored Heuchera with ‘Evergold’ Carex.  It’s one of the evergreen Carexes, and can take sun or shade.

Here’s a groundcover I’ve never seen before – Wood Anemone or Anemone nemorosa.  Gotta get some!

Also evident in the photo above is Larry’s practice of leaving fallen leaves in place in his perennial borders.  I questioned this practice, having read warnings about dead leaves smothering perennials, but was assured that the perennials are safe and that the leaves decompose by mid-summer or so.  Larry says that smothering may be a problem with maple leaves because they become so tightly compacted, but the leaves of his oaks and tulip poplars are no problem.   Good to know!

Love the large pots on Larry’s deck, and the informal fieldstone paths.  That’s Japanese Painted Fern in the foreground.

Notice more interesting artsy elements – the metal cranes on the left and the large pot on the right.   And how about the stunning bark on the Stewartia in the foreground? A diehard do-it-yourselfer, Larry built the pond himself.

Thanks to Larry for the tour, but I haven’t finished with him yet.  Coming soon – his favorite native ferns and Echinaceas.

Lornicera photo by Larry Hurley.  All others by the author – Susan Harris.

Fall Clean-up in the Perennial Garden

Click here to read Larry Hurley’s fall tips for the perennial garden on our website.

Photo credit.


Calamint – My new Favorite Perennial

Calamint with lamb's ears

by Susan Harris

Calamint (Calamintha nepeta) ‘White Cloud’ is one of those plants that I’d never noticed – either at the nursery or in anyone’s garden – until I grew it myself, an experience that’s turned me into a HUGE fan of the plant.  I love it because this one plant has spread in a single season to cover a 2×3′ area, and the white, mint-scented flowers that first appeared in June are still going strong in October!  Four continuous months of flowers!

The butterflies and bees LOVE it.  AND it’s drought-tolerant.  And according to expert sources, it’s longer-lived and better smelling than the similar-looking baby’s breath.

I think the reason I never noticed it is that it’s a filler plant, not a show-stopper.   Like background plants, fillers sometimes get no respect.

Just give it full sun to light shade and wow, what a performer!  It reportedly self-seeds and I’m soooo hoping it does.

Thanks to Larry Hurley for turning me on to this under-appreciated plant.

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