Our Goals - Staying in Focus
Which daylily seedling is worthy of naming, registering, and introducing? That is a question that, I am sure, all daylily hybridizers wrestle with over and over again. Since 1992 I changed direction in my hybridizing goals several times before finally focusing on my primary desires with the work I am doing. I then set judging guidelines in order to reach those goals. I find guidelines to be extremely important as it is very easy to become sidetracked as there are numerous "pretty faces" blooming for the first time each season. However, a "pretty face" is simply not near good enough. A "pretty face" is a beginning, period. Performance, by way of number of scapes per division, bud count per scape, and how quickly a single fan becomes two, is the next most important quality I watch. I believe it is important to create a flower that will perform not necessarily exceptionally, but one that will perform acceptably in any garden setting. So now it must have a pretty face and also perform acceptably. I feel fortunate to be located in central Indiana as I believe this gives me a better indication of performance in both the northern and southern climates and in addition to my own observations here in Indiana, I have test gardens in both directions for better performance calculation.
Many hybridizers concentrate only on certain forms - spiders, miniatures, doubles, and others only work with tetraploids, while still others may have narrowed their goals to near whites, etc ...the list goes on. My goals are are somewhat mixed but with an overall direction of DIFFERENT. There are so many varieties of daylilies in commerce today that a "pretty face" and "acceptable performance" are just not enough. There are specific color traits that attract my attention and I choose, what I call my "keepers", with these traits in mind. One such trait is a contrasting edge color with no eye pattern and I am getting some really nice results in this direction. I am also intrigued with the challenge of blue and, as there is yet to be a true blue daylily, I am sure I am not the only hybridizer with an eye in that direction. Texture is another aspect which seems to offer endless possibilities and new breakthroughs in texture are being seen each season. So if I had to sum up my goals they would be ...pretty face, performance, different.
I am often asked about my judging guidelines so I'd like to review this briefly. From the time a seedling is transplanted into the seedling strips out in the gardens, it is given a permanent seedling number and this is how I track each seedling - not always easy, especially in ninety degree heat with a humidity of 100% or so but very necessary in order to make decisions. Too much time, effort and money goes into the whole process and to do anything less would make the whole process pointless. Each seedling, if the bloom is acceptable, is given at least two consecutive growing seasons in the same location undisturbed. If, after these two seasons, the performance appears promising, I will line out a seedling in one of my "keeper" beds so I can judge just how well it will do if divided up for a customer. Then here again, I like to allow two consecutive seasons before making a final judgment and always caution customers not to judge by the first season - watch the second. I do the same for any new purchases I make also. It is at this point that I have several seedlings for sale - they made it this far in my judging and are thus proven to be garden worthy ...but just don't have that extra "different" quality which results in registration.