BEARDED forms: A New Age In Daylilies!     By Brad Best
Copyright © 2009 by Rainbow Hill Daylily Farm. All Rights reserved.

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Over the past few years, there has been much curiosity over one of the newest and most cutting edge forms in daylilies - ‘consistent’ bearding. Within this presentation of data, I’d like to take the moment to discuss the attributes and merits of the bearded daylilies we hybridize and grow here at Rainbow Hill Daylily Farm. However, I must say, before the bearded form (not to be confused w/sculpting) even became reality, I spent years of research and effort hybridizing in order to get the first consistent 3-way full-bearded daylily introduced - before any definitions related to this particular raised petaloid effect were in the making. Thus, in 2005 we registered and introduced MICHAEL’S SWORD and a New Age in daylilies began to unfold!

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In the beginning:

Years ago while some were focused on hybridizing for eyes, doubles and bubbly edged daylilies (also favorites of mine) I decided to begin hybridizing for something that didn’t exist with consistency. As an avid daylily collector and ‘entry-level-hybridizer’ I was told by a favorite hybridizer ~ it’s best to be focused and go after one form and do it with determination vs. going in all different directions (and so I did!). In the mid-1990’s I saw a few flowers that caught my eye that occasionally sputtered what some were calling crested forms. However, none of those flowers had consistent plant habit. And most all of them rarely sported their extra petaloid effects on all three petals (3-way) when it occurred. Thus, I began my quest for a daylily form with very few options for parents. Again I repeat - VERY FEW OPTIONS.

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I had no formulas or past history to go by, only a prayer and a vision in my mind. Another well known hybridizer once told me the trait I was seeking was most likely recessive and suggested my chances were “slim to nil” for getting consistency - but in the same breath told me not to give up hope! Miracles can happen! Obviously, I didn’t give up! Thus, I spent several summers keeping my eyes open for anything that might offer hope for success!

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I eventually began working with BEE’S BETTIE SUE (P. DOWNIE ‘97) along with a few other daylilies in my quest for a true and consistent, but indescribable form w/o a name. A name that was always right on the tip of my tongue!

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One day, as I was browsing my favorite iris nursery in the late 1990‘s, I thought to myself, “The growth effect within a bearded iris is similar to what I am working to produce in daylilies. Why not call this new daylily form “bearded” so others will be able to easily identify with this similar growth effect already happening within bearded irises? And with the bearded name, I don’t need to get out a thesaurus dictionary trying to define it to our customers. Bearded is already a familiar term with the vast majority of gardeners! So, it was at that point in time after getting positive results with our seedlings I began promoting our Rainbow Hill Daylily Farm: “Home of the newest & most exciting bearded daylilies” - (ie: Winter ‘05 DAYLILY JOURNAL publication - see page #428 Rainbow Hill Daylily Farm color ad/Picture Gallery pg. #458). Ever since then the bearded term has caught on like wild fire.

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More background history:

As far as we knew, along with others who were in the know before and after 2005, MICHAEL’S SWORD was the first of it’s kind on the market in 2005 as per it’s consistency with the ‘true bearded’ effect. This effect came about by using BEE’S BETTIE SUE as a pod parent with LAVENDER BLUE BABY (Dip) as the pollen parent. Consistency was the result of breeding two parents having recessive plant habits with a raised petaloid effect. However, if the effect is not present on all three petals (true bearding), we do not consider such inconsistent examples worthy of registration for our customers. Flowers with inconsistent raised petaloid effects are more or less a hybridizer’s flower to use for trying to get what we've already discovered in ‘true bearding.’

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Thus far, all our consistent “forked-bearded” hybrids with their two-pronged raised petaloid effects look similar in silhouette - including those which are inconsistent seedlings. Those which are only part-time performers without a 3-way forked-bearded effect will not be registered for the sake of meeting our customer’s expectations. In contrast to the traditional crested effect, the bearded growth effect straddles the mid-rib like a "forked-beard." For simplicity sake we call it “bearding” vs. a more refined terminology: “forked-beard.” However, forked-beard technically defines the overall silhouette of our bearded forms and I do believe may qualify it for official vote for the sake of AHS/SSC preferences. There is no term in the botanical dictionary regarding “forked-beards.”

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The following "forked-beard" definitions were retrieved via the internet as this descriptive term does in fact refer to an authentic beard style men have worn over the centuries. Even Jesus "has been described & depicted as having a forked-beard, a custom of the Nazarenes." Now some things are definitely coming around full circle here!

1. “The beard is common in the 14th century, the forked pattern being favoured and the long drooping moustache.”

2. “The Forked Beards were often a sign of a smith/craftsman, who wore their beards that way so that they'd be out of the way and not burned by the flames of the forge.”

Obviously, like bearded irises, the bearded effect in our daylilies is not an actual human beard with real hair. It‘s a similar effect, like that of a bearded iris - they both sport growth effects that are associated with the silhouette of a man’s beard. In the case of bearded daylilies - a forked-bearded silhouette vs. that of a bearded iris.

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Cresting vs. Bearding:

The bearded formation does not resemble the typical mid-rib cresting or ‘dorsal-fin effect’ in previously registered daylilies that were for the most part inconsistent. BEE’S BETTIE SUE and BEE’S CONNIE SHARON (occasional crested forms) played a part in our earlier bearded hybridizing efforts. Both BBS & BCS have the crested (dorsal-fin) effect. The growth effect we have now defined, related to our 'true bearded' forms, is different in placement and form vs. that of traditional cresting from the mid-ribs - looking like a dorsal fin of a fish. Forked-beards and "dorsal-bearded" (dorsal; makes good sense to say) formations both lift above the petal surface vs. 'traditional' sculpts. Differentiating dorsal/crested vs. bearded forms may evolve into a whole other debate?

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More about Mikey:

Shortly after MICHAEL’S SWORD was introduced, we were getting more and more consistent bearded wonders to grow and flourish in our gardens. To date our personal ‘true bearded’ daylily program appears to be quite exclusive and unique as we continue our original goal of creating more and more amazing bearded wonders! I must admit, it has been a slow process along with failure and disaster losing seedlings due to uncontrollable planting issues along the way. But the positive results have been worth the sweat and tears!

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Attached throughout this article are a few examples of our bearded daylilies. To date we have only allowed introduction of MICHAEL’S SWORD - our first 90% consistent 3-way full-bearded form (true bearding). All other bearded seedlings, from MICHAEL’S SWORD, exhibiting 100% 3-way bearded form are continually being used exclusively within our bearded hybridizing efforts as the future unfolds with new bearded wonders! Although we are in the infancy of something incredibly new and exciting, only time will tell what the future will hold in this New Age form of daylilies!

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THE DEBATE - ‘True Bearded’ forms vs. Sculpts:

The defining traits as I’ve outlined throughout this article distinguish the differences between ‘true bearded’ daylilies vs. sculpts. Some may prefer to declare bearded & sculpted daylilies belong within the same grouping/classification - but it’s obvious the traditional carved, attached & ribbed sculpts (w/flat surface effects) do NOT perform like a consistent 3-way full-bearded formation with an effect that dramatically lifts off the petal surface. Thus, we are presenting some data developed over time for future generations of daylilies to come that will perform with ‘true bearded’ plant habit vs. the traditional attached, ribbed or carved petal surface effects (or flattened effects) currently accepted as sculpted forms. For the sake of comparison and contrast, I prefer to call the attached, ribbed or carved surface effects being referred to sculpts as “flattened effects.” Which is a good qualifying definition to use and helps differentiate between the lifted effect of the bearded form vs. the flattened effect of said sculpts. We do need to differentiate between the two and I believe opposing classifications is the answer.

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With the backing of fellow daylily enthusiasts, the “bearded daylily” may someday become a common gardening name like the bearded iris. Both flowers (bearded irises & bearded daylilies) share similar bearded ‘growth effects’ in the artistic sense as per the basic beard-like effect we have at hand. However, after research and some debate the term “beard” in the verb sense has literally taken hold so to speak. The bearded flower form ‘opposes and defies’ all traditional daylily forms since the beginning of the daylily species. As per the verb definition “beard” is defined as:

V. beard: to confront and oppose with boldness, resolution and effrontery (Webster‘s 9th); to come face to face with and defy (Webster‘s New World).

And the noun definition for beard:

N. beard: any growth like a beard.” (Webster’s “New World Dictionary” definition #2).

Thus, as per the noun definition. what we have with this new form in daylilies is certainly “a growth like a beard.” And in the artistic sense, a bearded daylily has similar plant habit as per it’s placement and location within the petal like that of a bearded iris ~ only much more unique!

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So far, the ‘true bearded’ daylily form defies all other forms known in the daylily world! Thus, we’ve coined the name (beard) as per the associated verb and noun definitions for that matter. Placement and location of the bearded effect was initially one of the essential reasons why the name was coined as well. To date, nothing even comes close to comparison describing the bearded form we have at hand. The name MICHAEL’S SWORD appears to be quite fitting as well for the 1st registered ‘true bearded’ daylily form. MICHAEL’S SWORD was named to symbolize the “sword of truth” wielded by ‘Michael,’ the mightiest of God’s archangels. Hence, the term ‘true bearded’ form daylilies!

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Noted below, I have put together some defining guidelines we’ve established in hopes it will help fellow bearded daylily enthusiasts understand what ‘our bearded daylily program’ is all about.

A ‘true bearded’ hybridizer’s definition for daylily bearding:

1) Daylily bearding (or) ‘true bearding’ must be consistent in the bearding trait having a two-pronged, “forked-bearded effect” forming and ‘lifting off the surface’ of all three petals (3-way) approx. 90-100% of the time (or 4-way for poly’s). Anything much less is considered an occasional inconsistent performer (a single) and is simply unacceptable for the sake of registering and promoting ‘true bearded’ forms.

2) Must be easily seen by the naked eye and not hidden or hard to detect with approx. 1/2” bearding to qualify having a “true bearded” effect rising from the inner petal area. In other words, a magnifying glass should not be required to see the form within the flower.

3) The recent small node forms hitting the market or harder to detect mutated forms as some may be referring to as “sculpts” would be better described as “mini-beards” or "mini forked-beards” (if consistent). Preferably, it would be nice having regulation by AHS designating a separate classification for consistent ‘true bearded’ forms vs. inconsistent variations some may elect to register. It makes for a confusing interpretation of ‘true bearding’ if such unique form is grouped together with less than consistent registrations. At our nursery, we’ve only elected to market something the customer can trust as a consistent performer! What matters most is what we call a consistent 3-way full-bearded performer that exhibit’s a beard (forked-beard) on each petal 90-100% of the time: a true bearded effect! The average customer is not interested in an inconsistent flower!

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More on Bearded forms vs. Sculpts:

Never have we considered or thought of our bearded daylilies as sculpted forms within the history of our bearded hybridizing efforts. Most people I’ve spoken with agree! It did come as a surprise when we heard a few people beginning to call our new bearded forms “sculpts” after the introduction of MICHAEL’S SWORD.

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As per the current AHS definition for sculpts - there’s a degree of generalization and some misunderstandings of the term which allows much room for debate:

“SCULPTED: Term used to describe a three-dimensional quality on the petal surface. Sculpting may be associated" (or maybe not?) "with midrib cresting or other structural effects on the surface of the petals.”

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Contrary to the AHS definition for sculpting, bearded daylilies have "extra petaloid" that ‘lifts off’ the petal surface vs. the attached, carved, ribbed or flattened effects of most so called traditional sculpted forms. The most obvious revelation of all to reference is …sculptures are made by man. In the case of this unique new form we have in bearded daylilies (and all daylilies for that matter) - it is a creation of God’s (not mankind). The word “sculpt” refers to a form of art made by mankind. Thus, I do believe it's best to give credit where credit is due. As hybridizer of the first ’true bearded’ consistent daylily we have in MICHAEL’S SWORD - I give thanks and full credit ‘to God’ for answering our prayers and blessing us all with such a unique and consistent creation in daylilies!

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Hopefully, in time bearded daylilies will have an exclusive and deserving classification all to it‘s own. For now, we are obligated as originating hybridizer to call these ‘true bearded’ effects: “bearded/forked-bearded “daylilies - due to our past publications, promotion, marketing and for the sake of our customers: people who work hard for their money and want to enjoy consistent performing bearded daylilies from Rainbow Hill Daylily Farm (& due to the fact, there is no better term in use today to describe ‘the created’ growth effects of ‘true bearded’ daylilies)!

More technical data and facts:

Currently our bearded daylily forms are officially registered as doubles and ‘traditional sculpts are not.’ As per the original registration of MS, it ended up classified as a “double” due to questions asked for a ‘most precise’ registration at the time. It was registered as a “double” by AHS - not by my definition as the hybridizer. It also was included as a UF form as per it‘s crispate form. However, if a hybridizer ignores the bearding trait, raised petaloid specifics will not show up within a particular flower’s registration. Because one bearded form is registered a double and others with similar effects were not - that fact will not separate them when it comes time for official classification as per the given authority of AHS. Traditional sculpts to this day are considered “singles” - except the few which are actually doubles with some ‘traditional’ sculpting effects. With these understandings in mind, I do believe the bearded form is deserving of a classification all it‘s own if ever it leaves the designated doubles category via AHS vs. being incorporated or sub-classed into another ‘not so precise classification’ such as sculpts. Taking bearded forms out of the doubles classification and incorporating into another group is simply “taking from Peter to pay Paul” and not doing the ‘true bearded’ forms justice. Nothing is being accomplished within that pursuit. As per the current AHS format of classifying bearded forms as doubles and ‘traditional sculpts’ as singles, the two are currently NOT considered like forms as per the authority at hand in itself. Obviously, there is a big enough difference between the two to call one a double ‘with a lifted growth effect’ and the other a single with ‘flattened effects.’ The bearded forms indeed lean more towards being similar to doubles (as we’ve come to know them) vs. the flattened surface effects of traditional sculpts as per the given information at hand. I do believe, at the least, sub-classification is warranted for bearded forms within the doubles (or) UF's categories (including other extra petaloid forms with lifted growth effects that may be similar in form if consistent - but have never been registered as a double).

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The traditional sculpts will always be simply just that for most of us here in the daylily world. There is really no evolution involved getting bearded forms from traditional sculpts (although some may believe it is so?) - only the addition of a few more definitions over time while bearding was in it’s earliest stages of infancy makes it appear that way. Either we can make ‘true bearding’ a unique aspect for the daylily world, or it can simply be diluted by blending it in amongst other variations of forms and those with inconsistency that will not do it any justice. I think of bearded irises when I think of how to classify a bearded daylily formation - there are no other off-tangent variations alongside it in it’s class.

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As the first to register a bearded daylily with consistency, our family has been blessed having first hand experience in the creation of the ‘true bearded’ daylily phenomenon! I only feel it proper to offer a bit of guidance on what constitutes a bearded daylily vs. what does not constitute a ‘true bearded’ flower form. It is in my sincerest hopes the consistent bearded forms will prosper in number and grow in a spectrum of colors, patterns, golden edges & other variations we can only imagine going into the future. In the meantime, as this unique flower form begins to evolve, may bearded daylilies create more breakthroughs as a New Age of daylilies continues to grow like a Cinderella story!

Thanks be to God for all the wonderful creations He has blessed us with! We indeed have a new and exciting creation in daylilies with MICHAEL’S SWORD and our future pending ‘true bearded’ introductions to come!

Enjoy the photos and shared data!

- Sincerely, Brad Best & family

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