Thanks to enthusiastic botanists and hobbyists, daylilies have come a long way from the humble tawny lilies that graced American colonial gardens. Each year, members in the Alaska and Canadian regions of the American Hemerocallis Society (AHS) choose favorite hardy daylilies from their gardens. Several daylilies appear year after year and many of these have also won society awards that serve as expert endorsements for any cold-climate perennial gardener.
Many of Long Island natives Patrick and Grace Stamile hybrids place well in AHS polls. "Strawberry Candy" is a bright pink, open flower with a rose-red eye and edge and a yellow-green throat. The 26-inch tall scapes carry 4- to 4 1/2-inch blooms beginning in early to mid-season. The plant is listed by nurseries as semi-evergreen but in colder growing zones the plant would revert to dormant patterns. "Strawberry Candy" won the society’s Don C. Stevens award for best-eyed cultivar in 1995 and its highest honor, the Stout Silver Medal, in 1998. Another hardy Stamile hybrid, "Ruby Spider," is an early blooming dark red spider-shaped bloom with a yellow throat. "Ruby Spider" won the 2000 Lambert-Webster award for unusual form. "Custard Candy", the 1999 Stout winner, has 4-inch cream yellow blooms with maroon eyes. Among other honors, the 23-inch mid-season re-blooming dormant daylily won the 1996 Annie T. Giles award best for small cultivar.
"Betty Warren Woods," a pale yellow, 4 3/4-inch bloom on 24-inch scapes represents renowned Midwestern native R.W. Munson on many favorites lists. The mid-season bloomer won the 2000 Award of Merit. Munson’s niece Elizabeth and her husband Jeff Salter created "Ed Brown," a 2006 Stout winner. Pink with a ruffled gold edge, this early to mid-season re-blooming plant boasts 5 1/2-inch flowers on compact 28-inch scapes. Salter’s "Canadian Border Patrol" was named Don C. Stevens best-eyed cultivar of 2000. It boasts 6-inch purple-edged cream blooms with purple eyes and green throats on 28 inch scapes.
Several other daylilies regularly appear on cold-climate polls. Minnesota hybridizer Gary Schaben’s 2007 Lambert/Webster Award best unusual form winner, "North Wind Dancer," sports large, elegant 7-inch lavender flowers with wide yellow-green throats on 42-inch scapes. Hanson’s "Bela Lugosi", a deep 6-inch purple flower with a yellow throat rises on 33-inch scapes beginning mid-season. "Bela Lugosi" won the society’s 2007 Lenington All-American Award for outstanding performance throughout most regions. "Primal Scream," another Curt Hanson hybrid, is a remarkably bright orange-tangerine with a green throat. Blooms that are 7 1/2 inches dance atop 34-inch scapes from mid to late season.