Friday, July 15, 2011

is there ever anything new?

Recently there has been a great discussion on the daylily robin that I belong to--the question is whether with more than 60,000 daylilies registered and more than 1000 more getting registered every year--is it still possible for a backyard hybridizer to create a new and distinctive daylily. What more can be done? Sure, there is still the quest for the blue daylily--good luck. And some of the daylilies from the South just don't open in the North. But--don't many of the daylilies begin to look like each other anyway? How do you tell one from the other--is a flower that is four inches across that different from one that is 5 inches across?

Great questions. Indeed on my Studio Art Quilt forum the same issues are being raised. Is it possible to create new quilts that are distinctive and art? Has everything that can be said, been said? How far can the medium of quilts be pushed? And is the act of pushing sufficient or should we just make quilts? Are we too eager for the new?

I look around at my garden. There are so many flowers I love. I love watching new flowers open up. See the clumps develop in my garden. The mysteries of trahlyta. Exuberant. Unfolding patterns that resonate in a clump.

The joy of morning for flamingos--notice how the petals curve round and the slight ruffling at the edge.

The lush color of imperial lemon that opens up into the sunlight. Note the distinctive veins.

These are all lovely--but isn't there something more I want? Not only in terms of more flowers--although it may be possible to have too many flowers.   No, I want to know my flowers better. I am a curious person and the potential discovery of seeing a new flower I created interests me. But I can't do it all. A scattershot approach does not work.  It takes two or three years for a daylily up north to grow from seed to mature flower. How many duds do I need on the off-chance that I get something lovely? Shouldn't my time be well spent?

I read a wonderful post by Bob Faulkner--a backyard hybridizer known for his intricately patterned daylilies. He began his expedition into hybridizing because he did not have the money to purchase the flowers he wanted. You can see images of his work here--well, worth checking out. The key he says is FOCUS. Create an image of the daylily you are trying to create--maybe sketch it out. All of the characteristics. Verbalize it. You know--the elevator speech we are all taught to give. What are you trying to do in two sentences. Research. Keep notes. Compost those plants that are not on the path to the goal.

I think about it--yes, I want a tall plant. Dainty and dancing in the sun. Not necessarily yellow. I get some ideas. Start the research. I can begin to picture it. I make notes of ideas. Polly love--but much taller. Maybe a bit pinker? More trumpet like? Not sure yet.

But this is fun. I love the tall flowers I have--citrina. Dancing in the sunlight. I love the process--careful and planned with of course the element of surprise. Isn't that the same thing that quiltmakers or artists should be doing?  The same FOCUS that will make our work truly unique and distinctive. After all if we are true to ourselves then our work will only be like us and we are each unique individuals. I think of the mysteries of landscapes. That edge between what is and the place we take ourselves. Isn't that what I want to keep exploring? Isn't that an answer? At least for me at this point in time.

And you--what are you trying to explore? What is essential? Or do you approach it differently?

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