Pollie Maasz of Pollies Daylilies
Pollie, it's great that you could talk to us about what are often described as the perfect perennial due to the amazing array of flower colours and their undemanding nature.
They require little care, are drought tolerant and give back so much. It's hard to find a flower that matches the Daylily for that wow factor.
Daylilies are not lilies.
They do not have bulbs.
They do not get lily beetles.
Their pollen is not poisonous to us or cats.
Interview with Pollie Maasz
Let's start with the most obvious question first, if you had to choose, what are your favourite lilies?
My favourite Daylily for the last 6 years has been Queen of Halls, it is tall, large bloomed, I love the colours and it opens the evening before and blooms all the following day and has a faint perfume.
What got you started?
I started growing daylilies in the late 80's. I had 3 colours, red, yellow and orange and thought I had them all. Then I discovered a local source and discovered all the wonderful varieties which were coming into the country at that time. I saw my first spider (daylily) and that started my true obsession culminating in the establishment of the National Collection in 2004.
What is the largest flower of lily you grow?
The largest bloom in the garden is almost 14 inches across called Webster's Pink Wonder.
What are the earliest to flower?
The earliest for us are the species Hemerocallis lilioasphodelus ] and Hemerocallis 'Earlianna', usually in May.
What is the last to flower in the season?
The last to bloom will be the reliable rebloomers like 'May May', 'Siloam Plum Tree' and 'Forsyth Lemon Drop'. Also anything that decides to rebloom which is reasonably common but not guaranteed this can be any time in September and October.
What is it with the very unusual names, I mean I love 'Grandma Kissed Me' but not too keen on the name. Whereas 'Primal Scream' and 'Twisted Firestarter' are both such cool names and fantastic flowers?
Most of the plants at present are imported although we are trying to breed our own and the names are therefore of US origin. There is no doubt that people are often influenced by the name when they choose plants and I agree that some of them are really weird. Really glad you like 'Twisted Firestarter', this is one if our seedlings.
We have had some pretty challenging weather in the UK over the last few years. How has this affected you as a grower of Hemerocallis?
This year was very challenging particularly with the late spring meaning sending out the mail order was late as it took a while for the plants to get to the size I like to send them out and having no bloom on our exhibit at Hampton Court for Press Day, LOL. However, the sale pots sit out in our very cold exposed north facing field for the winter and are fine.
This summer has been the best Daylily season for most people that I have spoken to and we can only assume that this must be due to all the rain we had last year as they do like moisture. But I think this year has been great for most garden plants.
Are there any new cultivars you are currently hybridising, I see from looking on the internet that blue seems to be a colour that some are trying to achieve?
We are doing a lot of our own hybridising, mainly to try and get new plants for the National Collection, so mainly spidery blooms with just the odd round plant. There are some plants which can give a blue influence but yes, blue is the big aim, not possible in my humble opinion.
I see on the front page of your site that someone can by an unnamed cultivar and name it?
I have been selling seedlings for some time. These are plants which we feel are too good for the compost heap but are not exactly what we are looking for either. In some cases we have to select the best crosses where we have had lots of seedlings from the same cross which are a bit too similar. A lot of them have been sold to name in memory of a friend, pet or family member where a named Daylily is not available in the UK.
Finally is there anything you want to add?
I would like to add quickly that I am still surprised by the number of people at Hampton Court who think daylilies are lilies. So can I stress that they are not bulbs, they do not get lily beetles and their pollen is not poisonous to us or cats. In fact the blooms are delicious to eat and look lovely on top of a salad.
Pollie holds the national collection of Spider and unusual form Hemerocallis and runs a specialist daylily nursery.