The Lily Field, Sustainable Landscape on Cape Cod, MA

The Lily Field is a sustainable Cape Cod landscape designed by KMLA. The site posed several challenges including a mix of light and soil conditions, as well as the clients desire to have maximum color outdoors while they were using their home during summer months.

Daylilies, or Hemerocallis lilies, have been long known as one of the easiest perennials to grow, and should be considered more often in sustainable landscape design. They survive with little care and have tenable characteristics several of which made them desirable for this property.

  • Drought Tolerance - the roots of daylilies are fibrous and store water to support the plant during dry spells.

  • Erosion Control - the root system helps the plant anchor into the soil. Even when plants are dormant their roots prevent soil from washing away.

  • Salt Tolerance - the site for the Lily Field is near the ocean, and salt spray was a concern.

  • Adapt to Varying Light Conditions - Daylilies prefer sunlight, but will do well in part shade. Several mature oaks and spruce were left undisturbed on the site, which created variable light conditions for plants situated near them.

  • Tolerance of Various Soil Conditions - Daylilies are not particular about soil types, they grow will in well-drained sand or clay.

  • Relatively Pest Free

  • Beneficial to pollinators - The pattern on some daylilies acts as a visual cue to attract pollinators, including butterflies and moths.

There are thousands of varieties of daylilies, each varying in color, form, or time of bloom. Daylily blossoms last for only a day, as the name implies, but prolific buds keep the flower coming, day after day. To keep the field in continuous bloom from June to September, KMLA coordinated and composed several yellow, orange, and red varieties, taking into careful consideration the form of the flower and the time of bloom.

Kimberly Mercurio, ASLA, was invited to the Poetics of Plant Design Colloquium at Harvard Graduate School of Design to speak about the Lily Field earlier this year. For more information on choosing sustainable plants in New England, click here.