The Daylilies in Conservatory Garden are one of the most visually stunning indicators that summer has arrived. With their brilliant orange hue the flowers all seem to be jostling for attention, yelling “Over here, look at me!” the stamen waving like little hands – certainly an appropriate attitude for a flower in an obviously starring role. Also appropriate given the short career of each flower, most open in the morning and are withered by nightfall, only to be replaced by the following sunrise. In the Central Park Garden they are one of the most prominent of the mid-summer blooms and are featured in several of the South Garden perennial beds.
The genus Hemerocallis is native to the countries in the temperate parts of Asia. Originally, the only colors were yellow, orange, and fulvous red. Today, we have colors ranging from near-whites, pastels, yellows, oranges, pinks, vivid reds, crimson, purple, and nearly true-blue. Many people are familiar with only the common yellow or orange daylilies which are often seen along roadsides. These daylilies are cultivated forms of the wild types of plants which have “escaped” and are growing as if they are wild. All the modern daylilies we see have been developed through a complicated history of hybridization among these and other wild types.
As you can see from the picture above the Daylilies are also a favorite of the butterflies, as well as the bees, that frequent Conservatory Garden. It is certainly easy to understand their popularity, especially in terms of New York City. They open in the morning, give their all for one day’s performance and are replaced by an understudy for the next day’s matinee. It would be nice to imagine they at least got to see the reviews.
One of the hidden wonders of Central Park is the Conservatory Garden at Fifth Avenue and 105th St. A secluded oasis, just a few steps down from one of the City’s busiest thoroughfares; the garden offers a fragrant respite from the gasp and clatter of the urban afternoon.