Fifty Years Ago This Year
More Reflections on 1958

Ken Cobb
AHS Archivist/Historian

The original ten AHS regions were not yet ten years old in 1958. The Society was still experiencing growing pains. Several new regions had been formed while others had been restructured. The newest, Region 14 (AL, MS), was just a year old when the Mobile Hemerocallis Society hosted its second annual meeting. Those two states were happy to find a permanent home, having previously been part of Region 5, then Region 10. Because of the widely dispersed membership, some regions still had active state daylily societies simultaneously with the formation of local clubs. In 1958, a dozen early clubs held flower shows. Some clubs have remained in continuous operation to this day. One of the newest, formed in the year 1958, was the Hemerocallis Growers of Dallas, which is still active.

In the early years of AHS, much emphasis was placed on finding an official color chart. In 1958, after several false starts, the Board approved use of the American Horticultural Council's Nickerson Color Fan (see photo below). Note the total lack of orange and the few shades of yellow compared to the large selection of green and blue shades. Perhaps this is why, as with prior attempts to establish a color standard, it did not remain in favor for long. Hybridizers were left, as they are in the present day, to search for their own paint chip samples.

color fan

Some famous botanical gardens were in the news. At the NY Botanical Garden, a new memorial bed of over thirty of the best Stout daylilies was established near the Magnolia Grove. Dr. Stout had personally selected the cultivars before his death in 1957. A test garden was established at the Royal Botanical Garden, Hamilton, Ontario. In 1958, in all of AHS there were only about six test and display gardens. While most members think that Canadian involvement in the AHS regions is a fairly new concept, in fact, the Canadian provinces were considered part of their U.S. regional counterparts from inception.

Another daylily research test trial garden was active at Alabama Polytechnic Institute, now known as Auburn University.

The Society lost a beloved member, Fred Fischer, who was the first treasurer of the Midwest Hemerocallis Society (MHS) and keeper of the records for the first test garden center in Shenandoah, IA. He was husband of Helen Field Fischer. His daughter, Gretchen Harshbarger (see photo below), was editor of the first MHS Yearbook and second Society president. In 1958, as Garden Editor of Household magazine, she was honored as the outstanding garden magazine writer in the nation.


As the year came to a close, everyone looked towards the new year and the upcoming national convention in Washington, DC.

© Copyright 2008 by the American Hemerocallis Society, Inc.