Managing conflicting desires in a garden plant; the case of the variegated daylily

Tina Westerlund, Katarina Saltzman, Carina Sjöholm

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


A gardener in Småland, southeastern Sweden, tells that her father cultivated a double daylily, Hemerocallis fulva, with variegated leaves in Stockholm in the mid 20th century. When she moved to Småland, 45 years ago, she brought a piece of his plant with her, and later on she has spread the plant to others. This daylily, known as "Kwanso Variegata", was first found in Japan in 1776, and since then it has been spread in gardens around the world, and is still sold in the garden market. The odd appearance is considered a result of mutations in the plant's gene set.
Horticulturists have learned that the daylily itself strives to counteract the change that the mutation entails. In order for the plant to maintain its appearance, human efforts with repeated division and propagation of the desirable white-striped shoots is required, otherwise the leaves will eventually become completely green. Unlike many other garden plants, "Kwanso Variegata" has not been deliberately modified by humans through breeding. To preserve these qualities, generated by a natural mutation, the care needs to manage the fact that the plant slowly strives to return to its original appearance. This example shows that a horticulturist must relate to the plants' own processes and agencies. The interaction with garden plants and care for their maintenance, can thus also include conflict with the plant's own agencies. The daylily is striving to get away from the very qualities that gardeners, in Småland and elsewhere, have seen as particularly interesting.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2019 Jun 16
EventThe 8th Nordic Geographers Meeting: Sustainable Geography – Geographies of Sustainability - Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway
Duration: 2019 Jun 162019 Jun 19


ConferenceThe 8th Nordic Geographers Meeting
Abbreviated titleNGM 2019
Internet address

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Human Geography


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