Daylilies forum: What made you want to try hybridizing daylilies?

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Name: Natalie
North Central Idaho (Zone 7a)
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Natalie
Sep 11, 2012 11:25 PM CST
I'm really curious as to why those of you who hybridize, decided to give it a try. Was there one particular daylily that made you want to give it a try? Was it just a love of the flower and you wanted to experiment? Had you gotten bored and needed a new obsession?

For me, it was the fact that I had a bunch of ditch lilies and thought there must be something else out there that was more interesting. Not that they aren't interesting, but I had so many of them, and had seen others while driving around. Most of those were Stella D'oro, but there was also an occasional red or tall yellow one that caught my eye. I also had (still have!) some beautiful pale yellow ones, but I never really paid much attention to them. They filled a nice spot in the flower bed, and got along well with the other plants, but I never really appreciated them like I do now.

One day I decided that I actually loved daylilies, thanks to the pale yellow one that I have, and I needed more in other colors. Really, it hit me like a ton of bricks! I went from them being okay, to needing to fill my yard with them! I went online and did a Google search for daylilies. Lot and lots of pages listed them, which surprised me! The first site I visited was that of James Gossard. Well, after about 3 seconds, I was drooling, and I was hooked! I had NO idea that there was so many amazing daylilies!

I scrolled down the list of names on his site, and the name Blue Beetle caught my eye. I clicked on the link, and I couldn't believe what I was seeing! Seriously! I just about fell off of my chair!

I spent at least 2 hours on his site, just looking at pictures, and was amazed at what I was seeing! I had never seen such beautiful flowers - ever! The next thing I knew, I was running to every nursery in the area, searching for daylilies to use for hybridizing!

I spent the next two weeks looking at many of the other sites, with all those other amazing daylilies on them! I couldn't sleep because I had daylilies running through my head! It was awful, and wonderful, all rolled into one!

My obsession is all because of Blue Beetle, which I don't even own! I still visit the Heavenly Gardens site from time to time, just to look at Blue Beetle. Big Grin Drooling
Natalie
Name: Fred Manning
Lillian Alabama

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spunky1
Sep 12, 2012 3:20 AM CST
I wish I could remember, maby Kathleen knows, I will ask when she gets up.
Name: Paula Shaw
Whittemore, Michigan (Zone 5a)
Daylilies Region: Michigan Irises Butterflies Birds Garden Art
Hybridizer
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petalsnsepals
Sep 12, 2012 4:30 AM CST
I too have just begun hybridizing but I have had the gardening bug most of my life. I have been collecting daylilies for some 25+ years. When my collection reach the 250 variety mark I decided I needed to start a business because I couldn't bear the thought of throwing away flowers when they needed to be thinned out.After talking with several growers in my local area I realized none of them did any hybridizing themselves. I started the business with the goal in mind to some day pass it down to my grandchildren, I have three. The first year I tried it I had no success with germination,I dont know what I was doing wrong. Then after going online a found a method for germination that really works for me. It's called ( On the rocks) I have had about 95% germination with this method. I am a small grower and dont have a greenhouse so unlike southern states, January thru May my window sills are full of souffle cups or whatever type containers have a clear lid.Yogurt cups with the raised clear lids work well too. After the danger of frost has passed the seedling are put outside daily for a week or so and then they are planted in the bed.I have one bloom so far from a two year old and several that are nine month old seedlings that have made 4 or more fans. Hopefully I will get some next year to bloom and be worthy of registering as I want my grandchildren to have one named after each of them. Daylilies are addicting and I have always had the bug. It will be nice someday when my grandchildren are older and I hear them tell someone that my grandmother made that flower and it's named after me!!Thumb of 2012-09-12/petalsnsepals/2a8e5e
Currie's Daylily Farm
Name: Cynthia (Cindy)
Melvindale, Mi (Zone 5b)
Hybridizer Irises Butterflies Charter ATP Member Birds Cat Lover
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Hemlady
Sep 12, 2012 4:54 AM CST
Paula, your story is almost like mine. I had a friend give me some daylilies and I got hooked on them. I decided to go into business for the same reason, I couldn't bear to throw them away or compost them. I think going to my first daylily show is how I caught the hybridizing bug. I never saw so many pretty varities in all my life so I decided to give hybridizing a try and I literally became addicted to it.
Lighthouse Gardens
Name: Paula Shaw
Whittemore, Michigan (Zone 5a)
Daylilies Region: Michigan Irises Butterflies Birds Garden Art
Hybridizer
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petalsnsepals
Sep 12, 2012 5:32 AM CST
I really like your Rebakah's Gothic Spider, dont know if the spelling is correct but I do like that one of yours. I like spiders and doubles alot though I cant say I have a favorite.
Currie's Daylily Farm
Name: Michele
Cantonment, FL zone 8b
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tink3472
Sep 12, 2012 6:13 AM CST
I will say I used to HATE daylilies. I don't know why, but I HATED them. I never really saw any growing anywhere so it's not like I thought there were just the orange ones or those yellow (Stella).

BUT...... when I moved in with my fiance (now ex) and decided his yard needed beautifying I wanted something that was easy to maintain, basically I wanted something I could plant and forget about except for fertilizing once in awhile and were pretty pest resistant. I got on the internet looking for "easy to care for plants" and daylilies kept popping up (basic generic gardening sites) along with other things.
The first thing I started buying though was Agapanthus (Lily if the Nile) and then I was transplanting things from the yard from previous owners (years ago) that had lived even though they were neglected to other spots.
Well, I went to Lowes and Home Depot looking for plants since I knew nothing of mail ordering plants and we really didn't have any good nurseries around here. I always like to find sales no matter what I'm buying. Anyway, I saw these beautiful blooming plants and decided to look at them; they were daylilies of all things. The way I used to garden is I had to buy 2 of whatever it was and plant in an organizational manner. If one side of the porch in the front had whatever plants, the other side had to be exactly the same. I did this no matter where I planted, everything had to be equal unless I had a center point and it could be 1 plant, however, everything on either side had to be equal.
I kept looking and of course I only wanted to spend a certain amount on plants so when I looked at the $5.00 price tag on the daylilies I said NO WAY, NO HOW am I paying $5.00 for one plant!!!! So I bought other things instead. The following Sunday (I think) I saw the sales paper for Lowes and the daylilies were on sale for $2.25 so I headed straight there and bought 10. Once the front was finished with all my plants I started on the side of the house the following spring and statred looking for more daylilies since I liked the first ones I bought from the previous year. I went to a local nursery and found some on sale for $2.00 so I bought some and then more later on (I would stop in when I saw different ones blooming)
For one reason or another I had to search for something pertaining to daylilies on the internet and WHOAAAAAAA, I found the wonderful (yet addicting) world of daylilies. I was so in awe with all the different colors and eyes and such. Well, this started my quest for even more daylilies. I had read things on making daylily seeds, but everything I read said it takes about 2-3 years to see blooms and there was no way I was going to wait that long to see blooms, I was not that patient.
I happen to find DG and Cubits somehow and wound up asking some questions about things. I found the sales that some had and the daylilies for postage and got even more daylilies. So in late summer 2010 I bought my first 10 daylilies and by Sept. 2011 I had about 150 daylilies. At some point Fred chimed in and told me about the daylily club meeting that was coming up and invited me to come. Of course I had to go and see what it was all about. I took my friend Kim and she got to talking to Fred and James Hall and hybridizing came up and I said NO WAY was I doing that, I just wanted to enjoy my flowers. Kim said she really wanted to do it so I said ok (she didn't realize the work that goes into it, she just figured you dabbed the pollen and planted a seed nodding ). So I began reading more especially on the message boards and paid close attention to what Lyle and Fred said. My quest began for hybridizing plants and low and behold someone told me about the Lily Auction (the dirty rats!!!) and I couldn't believe the prices they were going forl; ittle did I know how it all worked. I did find some daylilies and couldn't believe I had spent $15 or $20 on 1 plant. But of course we all know how this addiction thing works (I couldn't stop Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing ). And that's how it all got started

When people ask me about this when we go to meetings or whatever I tell them I didn't want anything to do with it and it's Kim's fault. Hey there we go, I can blame Kim for my addiction Whistling Oh yea I NEED to blame Fred and James as well. HEY FRED, IT'S ALL YOUR FAULT ( and Kim and James). Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing
[url=www.pensacoladaylilyclub.com]www.pensacoladaylilyclub.com[/url]
Name: Cynthia (Cindy)
Melvindale, Mi (Zone 5b)
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Hemlady
Sep 12, 2012 6:45 AM CST
Thanks Paula Smiling
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Name: pam
gainesville fl (Zone 8b)
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gardenglory
Sep 12, 2012 7:45 AM CST
There were certain things I wanted in daylilies, I now realize that if those things were achievable, somebody with more room than myself would have done it. I wish I could stop, I should stop with my limited sun space. Im guessing its like playing the lottery, and reason I dont, you just have it in the back of your mind that the next seed just might be 'golden'. Id really like to just get to pick and open the pods ( my favorite thing), sell them or give them away, and move on.
Name: Juli
(Zone 5b)
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daylily
Sep 12, 2012 7:32 PM CST
I always liked the daylilies my Mom had from her family "home place"... and brought pieces of them with me to my new house in 1984. They really grew well, with no care.

I wanted to cover a hill that was to steep to mow in daylilies. I bought some from a local woman, who just happened to be Dottie Warrell. then, thought I might as well try making seed. I tried for 3 years to cross the same two plants with no results. Little did I know that I was trying to cross tets to dips. I finally did get some seed to set, using different plants, and to grow. I still have one of those original 24 seedlings. It is a nice dip double pink.

I went to a class on witch hazel at my nearby arboretum. They gave Curt Hanson as a source. So, I called him up, and he invited me up to see his witch hazels. Then took me to Tim Bratsman's - he is HUGE in witch hazels. It was awesome. Anyway, that is during February. I saw this big area of raised beds covered in snow and ice, and asked what else he grew. He said daylilies. He was only the second person I had ever met who hybridized them. He invited me to the garden when they would bloom - told me just come on up mid July. I went. I drove in and my life changed. I was astounded by the daylilies he had. I was used to seeing Dottie Warrell's lovely dip spiders and UFs with a few tets here and there. She has some mighty fine plants, and wonderful colors and plant habits. But her garden was so different from Curt's. Dottie's plants (back then) were planted in perennial beds, in with iris, peony, phlox, columbine, all sorts of things. Seedlings were lined out in rows, and she had some beds with intros and futures lined out. Curt has his in a huge fenced in area, out in full sun - just daylilies. Rows and rows and rows. Curt had thousands and thousands to look at. I think I made a trip up there every weekend that year. I took photos, notes, all sorts of things, and Curt showed me about making crosses -- the right way --- and I was hooked.

I always thought breeding horses, dogs etc interesting, but never did any of it myself. I showed dogs for years in obedience, and became friends with an Australian Shepherd breeder. She taught me a lot about breeding and genetics. I think that primed me for wanting to make my own daylilies.

That is the only thing I have ever bred. Dottie used to do iris of all kinds, daylilies, hosta -- and Curt will cross anything that has pollen. He has big collections of hellebore, hosta, arum, oaks, magnolias - all kinds of things. I've been lucky to live here in Ohio, and to have known Steve Moldovan, been guided by Richard Norris, Steve and Roy, Charles Applegate (he hybridized BLESSING).... Sharon Fitzpatrick, Shirley Farmer, Jamie Gossard, Gerda Brooker --- and the many more that I saw at meetings and symposiums like Bob Faulkner, John Benz, Dan Bachman - there are really so many. All of them friendly and open to helping a new person. I've tried to pay that forward and help as many people as I can - especially new people.
Name: Natalie
North Central Idaho (Zone 7a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Hummingbirder Frogs and Toads Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Native Plants and Wildflowers
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Natalie
Sep 12, 2012 8:22 PM CST
Wow Juli! How lucky you were! I've never met another hybridizer in person! If it wasn't for the internet, I would have had no idea that there was anything other than the basics!

Michele, reading your story was just like it happened for me in the beginning! You are so much further along than I am though, in a shorter amount of time. I still don't think I have 150 different daylilies! No room, I guess, because I don't want to give up my other plants - at least not yet!

Gardenglory, I totally understand what you said about seeds! I sure do love harvesting them! And I'm not about to sell any, since I'm positive that I'd sell the one good one in the pod! I'm sending all of my extra seeds to my Dad, but informed him that if the plant and bloom turns out perfect, I want it back! Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing
Natalie
Name: shirlee
southeast (Zone 6b)
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mistyfog
Sep 12, 2012 8:37 PM CST
Crossing plants has been an on-and-off interest of mine throughout the
years. I've grown the older type daylilies for many years, all variations of
orange and yellow, with one that had a tinge of pink. They received no
care at all, just left to do their thing which they did every year.

Then lo and behold, I spotted a roundish red daylily somewhere, and just
had to know more about them. I bought a few very inexpensive ones with
the initial intention of crossing them. Just to try it out, you see, as I didn't
know what or if my efforts would produce anything desirable. I found
daylilies to be the easiest type of plant to cross.

Initially I crossed a few, and was somewhat pleased with them, but the
desire for more gripped me. I needed a greater number for variety, so the
next year I did some serious planning and became a human bee. I enjoyed
planning for the crosses I wanted to try during the winter months.

With the greater number of crosses, I was overwhelmed with mostly hugh
bloom colors that I didn't even buy. Each year I buy a few newer plants to work with.
I haven't gone to the expense of buying introductions yet, but I may get there.

We do so enjoy seeing new blossoms each year as it is very exciting.
Can't wait to wake up and run outside with the camera. That is mostly
why I cross flowers, but I also want to someday see a flower perform
well enough to register. Kinda want to leave something behind for the
plant world that has given me so much pleasure. I love trees, shrubs,
flowers, and veggies.

The goals I have set for myself have changed as I learn more and more
about daylilies. Now, I am fairly sure of what I want to see in a seedling;
the problem is getting there. It does take patience, and a lot of practice
in seeing what each flower's genes will likely produce, or which ones
are likely to surprise you.

I haven't sold anything yet, but hope to at least give it a try next season.
Would like to sell some plants to buy better parents.

My only regret is that I didn't start out with this one piece of advice that
I read somewhere. "To buy the very best you can afford even if it is
just two or three plants for crossing, instead of buying many at lower
cost." That probably would have saved me a great deal of time and effort
in the attempt to realize goals.

[Last edited by mistyfog - Sep 12, 2012 9:55 PM (+)]
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Name: Natalie
North Central Idaho (Zone 7a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Hummingbirder Frogs and Toads Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Native Plants and Wildflowers
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Natalie
Sep 14, 2012 1:06 PM CST
Paula, you've got beautiful grandchildren to name a flower after!

I'm really enjoying the stories! Michele, I've got one flower bed that HAD to be even. I think it's because I started from scratch in the spot, having taken out two large pine trees. So, it was a blank slate for me. It's got a beautiful butterfly bush in the center, then daylilies, in even amounts, on each side. I then went nuts and had to have everything exactly even on each side for the rest of the plants! I've decided that it looks okay, but it isn't my favorite flower bed! The rest of the beds are such a mix of everything, with no rhyme or reason to them, and I like that better! I did get a good laugh when reading what you wrote, since it was like reading about myself!

Shirlee, I really enjoyed your story too, and what you said about leaving something behind for the plant world to enjoy!

Juli, you really are lucky to have known so many great people in the business! Maybe one of these years I can take a trip somewhere to a large farm, and see how the other half lives! I've never planned on or wanted to be a major hybridizer, but just seeing one of those farms in person would be amazing!

My hybridizing days may be over with for a while, since we are hoping to move eventually. I probably won't make any crosses next year, just in case we aren't here long enough for me to gather the seeds. I'm worried about my seedlings that I've got growing now, knowing that I'll probably have to move them before their first bloom, but that's okay. I'll need something to focus on after moving, and who knows - maybe we'll just stay put. I don't see that happening, but it could if we don't find our little chunk of paradise that we're hoping to find.
Natalie
Name: James
South Bend, IN (Zone 5b)
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JWWC
Sep 14, 2012 6:09 PM CST
I caught the addiction/illness after I bought my first house. The previous owners had put raised beds in, planted huge vegetable gardens and let them go to weeds. I wanted to fill them with something relatively easy to care for so I started looking at daylilies. One of the first nurseries I looked at was Maryott's. I couldn't believe the variety (or the prices for new intros) but I was mesmerized.

I wanted to try my hand at hybridizing because it seemed so easy in the sense of everything being so readily visible and manipulatable. That and I am a biologist by training so this was a way to do that at home. Lately I have been trying to get my younger cousins/nieces/nephews interested as an intro to science and gardening.
Name: Jan
Hustisford, WI
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Cat Lover Daylilies Dog Lover Irises Region: United States of America
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philljm
Sep 14, 2012 7:36 PM CST
I can't really call myself a 'hybridizer' since all I do is occasionally dab a bit of pollen here and there. In fact, this year was a terrible year here, and I have collected all of 5 seed pods, and I believe they are all bee pods - so I am going to have "unknowns x unknowns" next year. (cats got in my bowls I was drying them in, have no clue which one is which any more!)

But I do like to buy seeds on the LA! It allows me to afford genetics I otherwise wouldn't be able to get until the prices dropped to a more reasonable amount. Granted, even with seeds I have a price limit!

I too have discovered the "on the rocks" method of germinating, love it! I have 45 seedlings that are a year old planted in their own bed, some were pretty, a couple were really nice, and some were pretty ugly. But because only half have bloomed so far, and it was a pretty awful year with the heat and the drought, I am letting things go for another year. I do have one that I will register in a few years. It happened to bloom on my older sisters birthday, and is pretty, so it is garden named "Patty's Gift" It was one of my favorite seedlings this year, and is from seeds either given to me, or purchased off the LA.

I only planted a dozen seeds this year, and have lost half of them due to the awful summer - and the fact that my tomato plant overgrew EVERYTHING (yeah, I mix my flowers and veggies) . But the ones that are growing, look good so far. We will see how this batch does through the winter.

As for how I got into daylilies, my grandfather used to hybridize daylilies and Iris in North Dakota. This was long before I ever arrived on the scene. But this grandfather used to visit my other grandfather in western PA every couple of years. Behind my PA grandfathers cottage, was a daylily hybridizer. Acres and acres of nothing but daylilies, which I used to enjoy running through as a child in the 1960's. ND grandpa used to purchase a few from this hybridizer.

My father loved daylilies and iris, surprisingly enough, we never had daylilies at our suburban house in the Cleveland, OH area. We only had one TB iris, which is the only iris that survived a devastating fire at my ND grandfather's greenhouse one year. I still have some of that iris, and someday after I get stats on it, I will register it in my grandfathers name.

After my divorce, I started with some of the old daylilies from our PA cottage, since now we own a portion of what was once a thriving daylily field, but is now overgrown with everything - and 50 years later, those historic dips are still thriving, even in the woodsy area. So that winter, I was bored and searching on the internet, and like others, discovered the wonderful world of daylilies, the various plant forums, and the LA Whistling . As for the iris (which I too, haven't figured out how to hybridize yet) Schreiners sent me a catalog. Whistling

It's amazing, but the new daylilies are NOT the daylilies I grew up with!

Since I got back into gardening, I have gone from one bed of hostas, to 7 flower beds (some of which are works in progress) and a couple of historic NOID dip dayllies to perhaps 200 (counting my seedlings) Granted, this all occurred in just a couple of years.

I really don't expect to do more than just dab at hybridizing. In fact, because I am already over involved in volunteering, I refuse to join any local clubs (but do belong to AHS) for now.

Obviously, daylilies aren't just a business or hobby, they are an ADDICTION. So I try to enable as many folks as I can whenever possible. Big Grin ~Jan
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
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Newyorkrita
Sep 15, 2012 11:53 AM CST
Nothing. Nothing makes me want to hybridize. My daylilies are here as pretty garden flowers. I don't have room for seedlings and can't imagine doing all that work it takes to get seeds, much less grow out seedlings that I don't have room for anyway. I do understand why people do it but for me, I leave all that work to the professionals.
Name: Jan
Hustisford, WI
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Cat Lover Daylilies Dog Lover Irises Region: United States of America
Region: Wisconsin
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philljm
Sep 15, 2012 12:55 PM CST
Heck Rita, I'm not a professional, I just pretend every once in a while! But truly rita, I don't blame you for not hybridizing, your gardens are pretty full without those babies ~Jan
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Tomato Heads I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Vegetable Grower Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
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Newyorkrita
Sep 15, 2012 12:58 PM CST
If I had seedlings I really would have to grow them in the neighbors lawn. I just have no room. No patience for trying to get good ones and waiting years to see what they are either. Thumbs down
Name: Cynthia (Cindy)
Melvindale, Mi (Zone 5b)
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Hemlady
Sep 16, 2012 4:52 AM CST
I don't have a lot of space either. I have to get rid of old seedlings to make room for the new babies every year and it is a lot of working digging them out every year.
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Name: bb
north of boston on the coast
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lilylady
Sep 16, 2012 6:13 AM CST
When the collecting bug first hit, I joined the local daylily society.

I thought spending $25 for a daylily was over the top. HA! Collectors there were bidding $50, even $100 on some of the latest things. I couldn't believe it.

So, while sitting there with another newbie, we jotted down the names of the parents of those important new daylilies, thinking that if we got the parents, we could get the kids (or something like them)!!!

Phil Reilly on the scene.

Encouraging everyone to give it a shot. Two rules - buy the best you can afford, and build your program on buds and branching. In other words, you can put a pretty face on plants with buds and branching, but it is much harder to put buds and branching on a pretty face. I relate this second rule to watch for plant habit, not just a pretty face. The second might also pertain to northern breeders more than the south, where daylilies have repeat bloom seasons.

Anyway, I gave it a shot. And got hooked. My first problems were that I was liking tall and skinnies at a time when short and fats were just coming into vogue. So when the 'group' visited my seedling beds, my comments were to buy more fatties, and I tossed away my pink skinnies. Too bad. It was discouraging.

Until I met Bob Schwarz and Margo Reed, that is!!!
Name: pam
gainesville fl (Zone 8b)
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gardenglory
Sep 16, 2012 9:12 AM CST
Interesting. I have heard Phil Reily say the same thing at our club." You can always put a pretty face on it" My problem is, when I go to put that pretty face on, then I dont get the same plant. That one comment, more than any, just keeps driving me.

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