A few years ago, my boss came to work one day carrying a plastic grocery bag full of daylilies she’d divided from her garden. Earlier she’d mentioned a double orange daylily that she needed to thin from her landscape, and I eagerly offered to take some off her hands, sight unseen.
I took the two small clumps in the bag and planted them in a newly turned border along the north side of the house. For the first couple of years, the lilies bloomed lightly while seeming to spread quickly through the bed. I soon had to divide my original clump and transplant it to other parts of the landscape. I already had several large patches of Hemerocallis fulva (Common Orange Daylily) throughout the garden, so I strategically placed these double cultivars in places not already overwhelmed with orange.
This year looks to be the first banner year for the double orange daylilies (which I’m almost certain are Hemerocallis ‘Kwanso’). Clumps in the back, north and south borders have all sent up copious stands of thick stems, each topped with multiple flower buds. The first of the buds have opened this week in a beautiful display.
Each blossom on ‘Kwanso’ is slightly different, with unique twists and turns in the petals and sepals. The flower center is a bright, light orange, graduated through a rusty orange to pumpkin-colored ends.
Some flowers appear almost like orange bromeliads with crinkled edges, often with dark colored notches at the end of the petals. The stamens, so pronounced on single daylilies, are virtually invisible inside the patchwork of petals.
Like most daylilies, ‘Kwanso’ provides a uniquely beautiful profile from almost any angle and simply lights up the garden in the warm light of late afternoon and evening. It performs equally well in sun or part shade, both dry and very damp conditions.
Make no mistake: ‘Kwanso’ — like it single species relative H. fulva — is aggressive. This fall, I will likely need to divide ‘Kwanso’ again to prevent it from overrunning its companions in the landscape. Perhaps this will be my year to pay it forward and pass a clump of this beautiful daylily onto another gardener.