In the Kaleidoscope Garden
When someone says "daylily," most people immediately think of the orange "ditch lily" that dots the sides of country roads and old barnyards throughout the Midwest--the colorful, familiar wild lily likely brought westward by settlers from Europe in their covered wagons that they divided and replanted again and again as they went.
But did you know that the "ditch lily" is only one of about two dozen naturally occurring species daylilies (scientifically known as Hemerocallis, meaning "beauty for a day" because each bloom lasts only one day long)? And did you know that daylily hybridizers, working diligently since the early 1900's, have created over 72,500 registered daylily cultivars ("cultivated varieties") , each distinct genetically from the others?
The Nick Balash Daylily Display presents a small slice of that hybridizing history, showing the evolution of the daylily through human intervention called "hybridizing," the dabbing of one flower with pollen of a different variety of daylily to produce new cultivars. In the Kaleidoscope Garden collection are samples of most of the species used by early hybridizers, and the Display is set off in time blocks to show representative daylilies from 1893 to 2012 created by successive generations of "pollen dabbers." The variety of colors and shapes produced over the years comes as quite a surprise to most visitors who still think all daylilies are orange!
The Daylily Display was made possible through two generous, large donations of registered daylilies by hybridizer Nick Balash of Albion, MI, in 2004 and 2006.
For many years, Nick and his wife owned and operated Balash Gardens from which they sold daylilies locally and nationwide by mail order. When he closed the business , he gave the arboretum over 200 individual plants with the intent that a display of daylilies could be made to raise public awareness about this beautiful, hardy perennial so that folks could appreciate how diverse daylilies have become, thanks to hybridizing efforts over the last century. From mid-May through early September, the Display provides a continually changing splash of color and interest to the center of the Kaleidoscope Garden as well as a ready teaching tool that demonstrates positive ways humans can intervene in natural processes for everyone's benefit and enjoyment.
The formal dedication took place in August, 2011, following the completion of the initial installation. But it remains a work-in-progress as both older and newer daylilies are acquired for the exhibit. In July, 2012, the Kalamazoo Area Daylily Society gave the Arboretum a generous donation toward the upkeep and improvement of the Display, and its members continue to help keep it attractive and healthy. Yet volunteers are always needed to keep it watered and weeded. So if you enjoy working in a lovely setting literally face-to-face with flowers, please consider lending your helping hands to maintain the beauty of this exhibit.
The photographs here show most of the daylilies in the Display in their first year as part of the exhibit.
The eight photo albums located below mirror the layout of the Display, so you may take a virtual tour of it year-round. Within each album appear photos of most of the daylilies within the time-block in its title, and each photo bears the name of the daylily, the hybridizer of it, and the year it was officially registered with the American Hemerocallis Society. The pictures, with a few exceptions as noted, were taken by Greg Youngchild who serves as the overseer of the NBDD project, and they may not be used without expressed permission from Leila Arboretum Society.
Questions and comments about the Nick Balash Daylily Display may be directed to Greg Youngchild.
Some of the daylilies in the Nick Balash collection are now availiable for sale. Please use the link below to see what is availiable.
Updated - 9/24/2012