Garden Horror

In the morning I like to walk around to have a look at the fresh blooms in my backyard.

2022’s strange flower deformities have made this feel like a terrible obligation. I am no longer walking around to admire my flowers, I am assessing them for abnormalities, then photographing them as proof, not pleasure or art.

Some types of daylilies were completely unaffected, and all the blooms were as expected. Other types had up to 30% of the blooms with malformations.

I looked online for answers but couldn’t find any. I emailed a Canadian daylily grower in the area to ask about this. They said the very dry conditions could affect flower development and opening. They also mentioned that the dry weather could cause a greater amount of thrips (tiny insect pest)and said that thrips will often leave small trails where the color is lighter.

They doubted that the repeated, acute exposure to gas vapours were causing these issues, but had no answers for what WAS. They suggested I contact the American Daylily Society.

I sent them a note, but one week later, no one has replied. On their site they have a section for Frequently Asked Questions. There were a couple of posts about pests and diseases, like Daylily Rust, Crown and Root Rot, Leaf Streak, and Spring Sickness. Pests were aphids, spider mites, thrips, gall midge, slugs and snails and Daylily Leafminer. None of these cause the deformities I have been observing.

In 2020 I had one seriously mutant flower – sort of a conjoined twin with a little extra. Memorable :

Shown next to normal one (on the left). It was like this flower was two flowers plus some extra ruffles ?

I photographed this mutant cosmo flower in 2020, too:

Extra petals in the center, 2020.

Since there were hundreds of cosmos blooming at a time, a few odd ones here and there didn’t concern me too much, but I started to wonder. I had noticed that I had fewer cosmos in 2021 than the previous year, or the one before that. The areas where morning glories had flourished seemed to be struggling with about only about 40% germination, and fewer flowers.

My friend Rita generously gave me plants from her garden when she was moving across the country. I transplanted these unknown daylily in 2020, but in 2021 there were some strange blooms.
2022’s flowers were really affected, with distorted petals, some undersized.
Some of 2022’s affected flowers had extra petals in odd places. The bud below shows some thrip damage – the warty looking bumps. When daylilies open, the exterior of the bud is the underside of the petal.

My own garden is making me afraid. What is going on ?

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