This hasn't been the best of years for common Orange Day-lilies. Clumps of the ubiquitous, flame-colored blooms are staples of the late-spring, early-summer landscape hereabouts—growing beside urban streets, suburban roadways, and the edges of most rural byways, in ditches and lanes, waste corners, alleys…whole thickets of them, everywhere. For a few weeks when they're at their peak, it's almost impossible to travel a quarter-mile without seeing a few clumps.
But while they're out and abundant—and have been for a couple of weeks—this spring they're not so prolific, so lavish, so profligate; they're there, but they're not teeming.
At least to my eye. Patches are sparse; a desk-sized assemblage might have a dozen blooms at any one time instead of the usual fifty. Moreover, I think the flowers themselves look a bit on the faded, slightly withered side—not quite so lush.
Maybe it's the dry spring. We didn't receive nearly the rain we usually get in April and May—and June is so far following suit. Or perhaps the earliness of the season—the lack of any real winter, or the fact that this is the warmest spring on record. We've had several 90-plus degree days in May, and many that exceeded 80, and it's not yet officially summer!
The lily in the photo is growing at the top of my driveway, opposite the main clump and part of a scattering of plants I found when clearing a portion of the jungle of honeysuckle from the steep, deeply-shaded bank. Though I've been watering regularly, the flower still looks a little parched, a little faded, and a little curled along the edges…as if this has been a rather trying spring. But at the same time, there seems apparent something of the weary victor in the way the lily leans into the light, as if enduring the struggle makes the blue skies and sunshine all the sweeter.
Well, I know how that feels…