Hemerocallis 'Bess Vestal': glorious trumpet-shaped deep red and orange flowers
Hemerocallis ‘Bess Vestal’ is a delightful clump-forming herbaceous perennial that grows to about 30-50cm tall and has lovely fresh green strap-like leaves. It has absolutely beautiful trumpet-shaped flowers- gloriously deep red with orange centres and detailing- which usually begin to appear in late June and continue well into early-Autumn. It performs best in bright and sunny positions, but is tolerant of most soil types providing they are well-drained.
Despite its exotic appearance H. 'Bess Vestal' can cope with most British winters. Having 'died back' over late autumn, it remains dormant beneath the surface of the soil over the winter and then is ready to burst back into life in the spring. And please don’t be fooled by the ‘day lily’ common name, as the flowers of H. ‘Bess Vestal' often last much longer than a single day. In any case, fresh flowers appear readily enough, and so the plant never fails to provide a prolonged and enthusiastic display.
As an alternative day lily, you might like to consider Hemerocallis ‘Stella D’Oro’. It is a very similar plant to 'Bess', but has bright yellow, lightly fragrant flowers. Both ‘Stella’ and ‘Bess’ are perfect for a mixed planting scheme, and both will provide fabulous foliage contrast with plants like Lavandula 'Hidcote', Geranium ‘Johnson’s Blue’ or Heuchera ‘Palace Purple’. Hemerocallis are also particularly attractive neighbours for lower growing ornamental grasses such as a light and airy Stipa tenuissima or a blue-green Festuca glauca. Beautiful.
Like most herbaceous perennials, my preference when I’m designing a planting plan for one of our customers is to use Hemerocallis in groups or drifts. Don’t get me wrong, a single Hemerocallis is wonderful in its own right, but a group of them is always more impressive.
The usual garden designer's technique of planting in odd numbers works well here, so be brave and try planting in 3’s, 5’s or even 7’s if your space is large enough. Yes, I know it costs more to buy plants in multiples, but savings can be had if we buy them early in the season when they are small (9cm pots are fine). They will quickly establish themselves, and we'll achieve fabulous results that will provide great-value colour and interest for years to come.
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