How an obsession for daylilies began

By Richard Wright

Published on Friday, July 04, 2014 - 14:30


How an obsession for daylilies began

One of Nicholas Peirce’s daylilies.


WE GARDENERS all have our favourites but sometimes that develops into something a little bit more.

Call it healthy obsession, if you will. And it often produces startling results, as is the case with Nick Inigo Peirce and his burgeoning collection of daylilies.

They produce startling drifts of flowers, which are gone in a day. In my garden at this time of year, I have just one orange variety, which lights up the sunny side of the conservatory.

Nick told me the story about how his hemerocallis adventure started.

"I could start with Jan and Andy Wyers (of A La Carte Daylilies) but before that there was my first garden and before that, the IW, but, originally, Alfred, my father, who likes to think he knows pretty much everything and to whom I will always be a child.

"He always asks how many sugars I have in my tea (I have never taken sugar), tells me to be careful when I do the washing up in case there is a sharp knife in the bowl (I am nearly 50 and left home at 18) and as for the chainsaw… well, there it sits in my shed because I’m not allowed to touch it.

"I have just paid £50 to have it serviced but dad knows I can’t use it, as opposed to him, the octogenarian with virtually no vision or hearing (perfectly safe).

"Anyway, back to my point — dad was a gardener. A rather safe, pedestrian one, although spirited, keen and inspiring at the time. This is what I grew up with.

"Of course, I showed no interest as a youth but I did a degree in art and that is never wasted — it had to come out somewhere. I grew up and got a mortgage, bought a house and had a garden.

"So in this small town garden, I shingled and decked (it was the 1980s) and for the planting I used the kniphofia Milkmaid and various crocosmia. I pondered — can’t you get a yellow daylily?

"So, a little later, while holidaying on the IW, The Plantfinder in hand, I rang and spoke to Jan Wyers and asked if she had a yellow daylily.

"So that’s how it started. How it ends?

"Well, I moved to the IW in 2001 (White Cottage, Bembridge), with a 200ft garden, and now with several hundred registered varieties of daylily (including some yellow ones) and thousands of seedlings.

"I know pretty much everything there is to know about daylilies. Of course I do — I take after my father."

So, it was a lovely holiday to the Island and inspiring people, such as his father and Jan and Andy, that led Nick to enjoy cross pollinating hemerocallis and one of his introductions being nominated the best UK and European introduction in 2014 by the British Hosta and Hemerocallis Society.

Each year, the society makes just six awards to its members in recognition of their achievements, work or association with hemerocallis and/or hostas.

Nick won the Newbold Hemerocallis Vase, first given in 2001 'for the best new hemerocallis cultivar bred by a BHHS member in this country or Europe’.

Nick won it for his glorious Vectis series, H. Vectis Nora Malone.

Nick’s daylilies will be on show when his garden opens under the National Gardens Scheme on Sunday, July 13.

He said he is still just a keen, amateur, hobby gardener.

People can judge for themselves when they visit. More details next week.

Arreton gardens attract crowds

WENDY and Nick Miller were so impressed by their visit to Arreton Open Gardens they sent me this collage.

They only managed three of the multitude but loved their day and thanked me for telling them about it in advance in my column.

Organiser Vivian Roberts reported record fundraising of £2,045 to be split equally between Relate and the scouts on the Island.

She said: "It was good to see Arreton full of people, walking the length of the village.

"There must have been more than 300 people and there were plant sales, teas, a raffle and tours of Haseley Manor.

"It was a very worthwhile event and everyone who shared their gardens seemed to have had a really good time.

Beauty in variety

JENNIE Fradgley leads from the front when it comes to marshalling the Island’s efforts for the National Gardens Scheme.

And she, and husband Keith, open their garden at Ashknowle House in Ashknowle Lane, Whitwell, tomorrow (Saturday) and Sunday, between 11.30am and 4.30pm.

Ashknowle Lane is an unmade road next to the Old Rectory and there is plenty of parking in a field near the house, with disabled parking next to the house.

The beauty of Ashknowle is its variety. There are woodland walks, loads of borders, a wildlife pond, water features, ornamental areas under development and a well-maintained kitchen garden.

Admission is £4, children free.

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