Talking Daylilies Here: No More Happy Returns

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Good-bye cervine freeloaders.  Hasta la vista deer buffet.

Yep, after 17 years of growing and tending a patch of Happy Returns Daylilies out front of our house under the lamppost, I had the landscaper remove them all and re-design the area.

The irony is, and there seems to be irony with anything I do, that when we built this house I was adamant about wanting Happy Returns Daylilies, which are a lovely shade of lemon-y yellow.  I paid extra to not have Stella D’Oro Daylilies, which are more golden-yellow, and common around here.

They’re in all the gardens in this subdivision.

Nope, planning ahead, as is my way, I wanted lemon-y yellow colored daylilies because they would look better with our particular brick–and because doing things, just a little differently than everyone else, comes naturally to me.

However, turns out that Happy Returns Daylilies are a favorite nosh of ye olde deer.  Also turns out that these pretty plants need lots of almost daily maintenance during the summer to keep them looking fresh and lovely.

So, with just a tinge of regret, but not much, I decided to embrace Admiral Grace Hopper’s famous quote and let go of my favorite Happy Returns Daylilies [and a patch of Russian Sage + Bergamot– and a few lost Daisies] to make space for a simpler, more modern, design out front of our house under the lamppost.

One that looks infinitely better than that which I thought that I knew that I wanted… years ago… before I became a wiser, and lazier, gardener.

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Here’s the new look: Boxwood [hedge], Fineline Buckthorn [small ornamental tree], Barberry [small bushes] + Liriope [used as ornamental grass].

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Ally Bean

Observant. Creative. Humorous. Adaptable. Happy enough. Looking for the crumb of truth in the cookie of life.

49 thoughts on “Talking Daylilies Here: No More Happy Returns”

    1. Janis, I know that I’m going to disappoint the deer, but sometimes you have to do what’s best for you! Also, there’s lots more to eat around back of the house, so don’t worry about them. They’ll be fine.

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  1. I like all of those plants, and I have all but the buckthorn (but no deer in our busy area). Unlike my mother and brother, I am all about Low To No Maintenance in landscaping. No, Mother, thanks, but I do not want eleventy pots of geraniums and coleus to fuss over. No, I do not want thirteen rose bushes to deadhead and fret about their blackspot, powdery mildew, and beetles.

    Instead, I have lots of interesting and permanent muliticolored shrubs and trees and foliage plants of varying heights and variety. Which I can pretty much ignore. Or not, as I see fit.

    I prefer an Easy Beauty.

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    1. nance, I’m getting to be more like you every year. I used to adore all the gardening maintenance because I saw it as exercise that lead to beauty. Now it’s fewer pots of plants + herbs, fewer flower beds to tend– and more bushes and perennials that know how to look after themselves. If an addition to the garden requires constant attention I don’t want it. There are too many cooperative mellow plants out there for me to be stuck with the needy ones.

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  2. I can relate. We have a long driveway with a 3′ wide strip of land along a stone wall. I wanted it filled with daylilies, preferably Happy Returns because I like them better than the orangey Stella d’Oros. Unfortunately for me, I also included standard red ones. The deer were in heaven except they only ate the red ones. After many years, I pulled all out except 3 Happy Returns which never get munched. They do devour my lovely hostas, hollies and a lot of other stuff. Two years ago we fenced in the back yard. No deer but I never did get back into day lilies. As you say, they are more work than you think. They get straggly between blooming periods. I have pulled out many of my perennials and replaced with easy care groundcover or shrubs. It’s another sign of aging!

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    1. Kate, deer only ate the red daylillies! My goodness we seem to both have some deer with fussy palates, don’t we? I’m not sad to see the daylilies go because, like you said, they get straggly which bothered me– considering how prominent these daylilies were. Under the lamppost. First thing you see walking up to the house.

      We’ve cut back on hostas, too. Now we have only a few in hard-to-reach places that the deer, so far, haven’t found.

      I agree about how the changes in our landscape are a reflection of us as we age. I used to be so into planting and experimenting out in the flower beds, now I’d rather be in bed, snoozing, while maintenance-free plants grow on their own.

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  3. I don’t know which variety of daylilies I’ve got in my garden (Mom, now departed, planted them a long time ago), they are lucky my critter visitors and residents don’t include deer.

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    1. bobcabkings, considering there seem to be thousands of varieties of daylilies out there, you could have the most common ones– or if they’re old, some rare heirloom variety. As long as they grow and aren’t bothered by deer, enjoy them while you can. They are pretty flowers.

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    1. Tara, feel free to enjoy our garden colors and shapes. After all, anyone who keeps a garden does it to enhance the world around them– and share a bit of joy in the process.

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    1. Akilah, that is what I’ve come to observe. Apparently the Happy Returns are just too good to pass by if you are a deer. Who knew? Oh wait, all the other neighbors! 😒

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  4. And let us know, if you would, if you miss your lilies. I had a large patch at my old house of orange tiger lilies (I guess..they were orange. They were lilies and had the requisite brown spot/patch thing going on). I couldn’t bring them with me, as I moved in freakin’ December and I still miss them. A lot.

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    1. Embeecee, will do. I love those orange lilies like the ones you described. Around here they’re referred to as “ditch lilies.” I’m guessing that I’m not going to miss the Happy Returns because they were work to keep growing, and I snarled every time I saw what the deer had done to them. Now, I am free from both potential sources of bitterness– living a happier life.

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  5. You did a fabulous job in choosing low maintenance plants for your border. I think liriope is underrated. In August, I love the burst of tiny flowers!
    I agree 100% that the yellow lilies are ten times as pretty as the orange. Yellow is my favorite color. I have orange day lilies. Though common, really, ridiculously prolific, I have a yellow house, sooo…

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    1. joey, thanks! I agree about liriope. It’s called a ground cover, but I think it’s much more than that. And the deer seem to be indifferent to it, so yay!

      Orange daylilies look pretty against the right color, but they’d look sadly near our house. No doubt they look great around your yellow house. Actually the combo sounds very appealing to me.

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    1. Betsy, I loved the Happy Returns Daylilies, but the whole idea [constant maintenance + deer] was not a good one. We may be the only house on the street without daylilies now, but no need to do things like we always have. Simple is better.

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      1. I’m glad you’re the only house without daylilies. What is this, Stepford Wives? You definitely need to buck the trend–and the bucks! (That’s a male deer, right? Let’s say that it is.) 😉

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  6. There is a LOT to be liked about low maintenance. I’ve just spent DAYS taking care of our “low maintenance” front yard. It’s slowly killing me :/

    Your new landscaping is looking mighty fine! Now let’s hope the deer don’t like boxwood or ornamental grass 😉

    … and I have a backwards clock that runs counter-clockwise too 😉

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    1. Joanne, I hear ‘ya. I used to adore gardening and all that it entailed, but now I’m finding the “easy” plants to be more work-y than I’d like them to be.

      You have a backward clock? YOU ARE TOO COOL FOR SCHOOL. I’m in awe of you. What fun.

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  7. I love the look of your ‘revised garden’ …and your ‘out with the old, in with the new’ attitude. Simple and effective work for me!

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    1. Thanks, Donna. This is the last quadrant of the garden to be upgraded from the original plan, and I’m so grooving on the simplicity of it. EZPZ is good.

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  8. Nicely done. I’m all about plants that I can ignore, but sadly I rarely know which those are, as I’m lazy about the research too, so nothing seems to do too well. Also I’m lazy with the watering, but my yard is too shady for drought tolerant plants. I struggle along.

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    1. Thanks, J. I enjoy looking out the window into nature around the house, but as I’m getting older I want said nature to be easy to maintain. It’s something of a “have my cake and eat it too” situation.

      I’m not into watering either. With all your shade, I imagine the only plants that’d grow are ones the love water… meaning it’s a rock garden for you OR you’re going to have to adjust your attitude about watering, young lady. 😉

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  9. I hate to see any critters starve, so I’m going to start up a Feed The Deer campaign. For the price of a cup of Starbucks, you can help a struggling suburban doe feed her family of sad eyed, cute, adorable, heart melting, d’awww inspiring fawns. I wonder if Sally Struthers is busy these days?

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    1. evil, starve? You go right ahead and start your Feed The Deer campaign. I will suggest that with, or without, Sally Struthers it’s going to be a hard sell. These cute deer are not a suburbanite gardener’s friend. They’re more of a frenemy, truth be told.

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    1. Patricia, I liked the daylilies, too. But I’m old now, and tending them seemed pointless to me. Maybe I could plant one somewhere as a kind of memorial to an idea past its prime!

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  10. Your yard turned out lovely, but now I am afraid that the deer, upon realizing their food supply has dwindled may migrate south to further eradicate any chance I might have of eating fresh grown tomatoes this year.

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    1. Allie P, you raise a good point about where will the deer eat now that the Chez Bean Buffet is closed. They might go south, or they could just go back into the dense woods behind our house and eat there. What’s wrong with natural health food, ye olde deer?

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    1. Nancy, I trust that the deer will find all the nutrients that they need in the woods behind our house. And if they don’t like the fact that Chez Bean Deer Buffet has closed, they can go elsewhere.

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