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A Visit to Barred Owl Daylilies

July 28, 2015

barred owl viewsLast week, I had the pleasure of visiting Barred Owl Daylilies, the garden and nursery of Rex Beisel and Craig Cote in Otisfield, Maine, as part of a group from the Foothills Garden Club. I was wowed by the beauty of the place. It was a perfect Maine summer day, the daylilies were at their peak, and they were blooming in a beautiful ridge-top setting with breathtaking views.

As the name suggests, Barred Owl Daylilies specializes in growing daylilies (Hemerocallis). The nursery stock is mostly planted in row after row of raised beds crammed full of the hundreds of cultivars that they grow for sale. More daylilies grow in display gardens that have curved edges and are connected by wide, sweeping grassy paths. barred owl display gardens
Display gardens made up almost entirely of daylilies might seem a bit lacking in variety. But, in addition to the enormous variety of the daylilies themselves, the masses of daylilies are balanced by being set among mature trees, like this gorgeous variegated maple.

In areas close to their house, Craig and Rex have created non-daylily gardens.

These include a dry garden that features walkways set in wooly thyme and a collection of dwarf trees (mostly conifers), among them this very special dwarf gingko. barred owl dwarfs
barred owl cat The non-daylily gardens also include this quiet corner.

Of course, no visit to a daylily garden would be complete without sharing a collection of favorite flowers that captured my attention that day.

barred owl daylilies

Barred Owl Daylilies specializes in growing cold-hardy tetraploid daylilies for northern gardens. Happily, this is a mail-order nursery, so those who do not live nearby can also enjoy the wonderful cultivars that they grow and sell.

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21 Comments leave one →
  1. July 28, 2015 4:06 pm

    dwarf ginkgo sounds interesting.
    Did you come home with treasure?

    • July 29, 2015 9:07 pm

      Diana, This was strictly a viewing visit rather than a shopping visit. I did do some “pre-shopping”, though — making lists of possibilities for my new front garden. 🙂

  2. Diane Cooney permalink
    July 28, 2015 5:39 pm

    That sounds like a very nice trip. I love day lilies and have the common orange ones at various points in the yard. The purple one in the upper left corner is quite lovely. I’d be interested in info on it or similar varieties.

    • July 29, 2015 9:23 pm

      Diane, There are a gazilliion daylily varieties out there. Really — the American Hemerocallis Society has 80,000 named cultivars in their database! And that doesn’t include the seedlings that hybridizers didn’t bother to register. The one in the top left corner is called ‘Monsignor.’ You can get more information about it by going to the AHS daylily database. I think the best way to find daylilies that you are interested in is to visit daylily gardens and nurseries. The next time you are over in the direction of Attleboro/Providence, you might want to check out Tranquil Lake Nursery in Rehoboth. (You can also see their catalog of dayllilies on their website.) I see that there is also a daylily nursery in Wallingford, Ct, but I don’t know if that’s anywhere near you or in the opposite corner of the state.

  3. July 28, 2015 6:23 pm

    What a lovely visit, Jean! Daylilies turn my yard into an ocean of orange and yellow each summer. They were already established here in the garden when I bought my home almost thirty years ago, and have been brightening our summer days ever since! It’s such fun to share daylilies with family and friends! Enjoy the day! ♡

    • July 29, 2015 9:27 pm

      Dawn, I have some of those old-fashioned orange and yellow daylilies that were pass-along plants from friends — and I love them. Many of the old-fashioned varieties are almost impossible to find available for sale, so its good that generous gardeners share with their family and friends. 🙂

      • July 29, 2015 10:29 pm

        So true, Jean! One of the special joys of gardening is sharing plants with friends and family! ♡

  4. July 28, 2015 7:38 pm

    I’ve never visited a nursery specializing in daylilies. I expect I’d be quite overwhelmed, especially as I’ve gone a little daylily crazy since moving into this house and garden. It’s too bad their sales office is already closed for the season – I’m on the hunt for some rust-resistant varieties.

    • July 29, 2015 9:36 pm

      Kris, Nurseries specializing in daylilies (sometimes in combination with one or two other plants — irises, or hostas) are common in New England. Many of the nursery owners are also daylily hybridizers (as are Rex and Craig at Barred Owl). Typically, the daylilies are field grown and dug and divided at the time of sale. I acquired many of my daylilies from a daylily hybridizer (now retired) who used to have a daylily nursery about 15 miles from my house and who had “dig your own” sales every weekend during the growing season, with 2-3 fan divisions sold for $5 each!

  5. July 29, 2015 6:30 am

    What a wonderful display of day lilies, such a beautiful range of colours and shapes too. We rarely get to enjoy seeing them grown to such perfection here, so this post is a real treat.

    • July 29, 2015 9:48 pm

      Kate, It was an amazing display. I felt as though I had died and gone to daylily heaven! My own preference is for simpler forms, so that I am often more drawn to the older varieties than to the latest hybrids with their ruffles, picotees, gigantic flowers and unusual forms.

  6. July 29, 2015 4:14 pm

    Jean, I’m wowed by the beauty of the place, not to mention, I love the name of the nursery. What a gorgeous place to buy plants. I have many daylilies in my garden but rarely do they look this good. Thank you for sharing your outing with us. And, as always, your photography is also beautiful.

    • July 29, 2015 9:50 pm

      Kathy, I’m in the same situation as you; I have many daylilies in my garden, but they don’t look this good! But we can aspire. 🙂

  7. July 31, 2015 11:22 am

    How beautiful. Lovely pictures, Jean. And I just love the name of this nursery.

    • July 31, 2015 10:14 pm

      Diane, The pictures don’t do justice to the beauty of the place. It’s amazing!

  8. July 31, 2015 1:30 pm

    What a lovely place! Like a commenter above, I’d really like to have one of those dwarf Ginkos. The daylilies look spectacular! I wish I had the ones on the top left and bottom right corners, but any of them would do. Thanks for sharing your visit.

    • August 2, 2015 8:37 pm

      Emily, the one on the top left is ‘Monsignor’ and the one on the bottom right is ‘Windham Luscious Lips’ You can check the American Hemerocallis Society‘s online data base for specifics about these plants (bloom times, height and flower size, etc.). Although Barred Owl doesn’t dig and sell their daylilies during the blooming season, you could probably buy these from them next year.

  9. August 2, 2015 5:01 pm

    Hi Jean, it looks like an amazing place, especially with how the gardens are set into the view. That final picture at the end showing several different varieties is lovely too.

    • August 2, 2015 8:39 pm

      Sunil, It was hard to know whether to focus on the plants or the view, since both were so beautiful.

  10. August 9, 2015 8:23 pm

    Oh how could you choose Jean…so many choices of beauty. What a beautiful spot to visit.

    • August 9, 2015 8:25 pm

      Donna, It was a gorgeous spot. Fortunately, there was no opportunity for us to purchase during this visit, so I didn’t have to make choices.

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