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Mar 28, 2015 9:30 AM CST
|Hello everyone! I’ve been a frequent visitor to All Things Plants for quite some time (the database has been a decidedly useful tool for me) and felt I should take the plunge and become an official member. |
While I have a long and storied past with landscaping, primarily as a personal hobby, I oddly enough am a relative newbie to daylilies. That is rapidly changing.
I am just now beginning to thaw from another long, cold Michigan winter and if my 40-something back allows I will be installing quite a few newly-purchased daylilies into the landscape of my home this Spring. I have really had a lot of fun learning about and developing a passion for daylilies over the past six months or so and now I am about to get some real-life experience with them. I can’t wait to see first-hand the glorious plants I have spent so much time researching. Woo Hoo! (As Paul Owen would say).
There appear to be quite a few nice, interesting, and informative people here so I’m looking forward to learning from you and sharing daylily-related experiences.
As Carl Harmon would say: “Grow them well” everyone!
Mar 28, 2015 9:32 AM CST
|How I developed my passion for daylilies|
I am not presuming that everyone will have the time or interest to read my story below. If you want to take a rain-check I will not be offended and perhaps we can meet again on another thread. But if you feel so inclined grab a beverage of choice, get nice and comfortable in your chair, and read on to discover how I have come to dive headlong into the wonderful world of daylilies. I hope that you will find it interesting…
It seems like I have always been working on a landscape. Many years ago, on a few different occasions, I worked for my Uncle’s landscaping company mostly toiling away on installations and becoming painstakingly acquainted with shovels. But I also did spend some time as a plant purchaser, project coordinator, and even a little bit as a designer. Otherwise I have been continually engaged in a labor of love creating landscapes for myself (and for a few family and friends). While my humility will not allow me to describe myself as an expert, I do know enough to design, install and maintain a respectable landscape. So four years ago when I purchased a home on a one-acre property in the Southwest Michigan countryside I had quite a powerful and confident vision for creating a grandiose landscape. Oh how that vision came crashing down.
After three years of back-breaking labor I had almost nothing to show for it and was basically having to start over. The soil of the entire property was solid gray clay—so solid I literally could take a shovel full, plop it on a potter’s wheel and make a vase out of it. Totally sopping wet with lots of standing water in the Springs and Falls. Completely dried-out and hard as concrete in the Summers. Exposed and extremely wind-swept during the bitterly cold Michigan Winters. Just about everything I planted was struggling mightily and many plants even died from the brutal conditions. My confident vision had mutated into panic and desperation. I was no longer looking for the best-looking plants that fit into a great design. I just needed plants that were tough as nails and would survive, period.
In the past year I settled in on Ninebarks and Barberries for background shrubs. Those extremely tough and versatile shrubs are proving to be a good solution. But what about flowering perennials? There are many tough options out there, and yet not really all that many I felt I could truly count on in my situation. I turned my attention to one area along the back edge of my property where things were actually doing well: a Royal Purple Smoke Tree surrounded by a half circle of orange-flowering daylilies.
When I purchased those daylilies I knew very little about daylilies. In my landscaping experience I knew of Stella De Oro but otherwise I just looked for “tall red” or “short yellow”. I had wanted “tall orange” for this bed and consulted the price list of a local wholesaler I still had access to. I ended up with what turned out to be “Rocket City”. After I planted them I had no idea what to expect, but when those gals settled in and bloomed they produced what to me was a truly stunning display of pure, glowing orange. I was amazed a daylily could put on such a great show. It occurred to me that daylilies might be the answer to my problem. I decided to learn more about daylilies and see if I could find more that are both exceptionally tough and great-looking. I sat down at my computer and did a simple Google search like “daylilies for sale”.
I just started going through the results one by one. I visited dozens of websites, hundreds of websites. The more I saw the more surprised and interested I became. Completely hooked I proceeded to spend time each day, day after day, week after week learning and exploring a new world. I had no idea there were so many different daylilies in existence or that there was such a large variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and patterns. I learned about things like ploidy, bud count, branch count, and recurrence. I learned there were many hybridizers actively developing fantastic new creations. There seemed to be no end to the interesting details. As I explored I eventually stumbled upon hybridizer Paul Owen’s “Slightly Different Nursery” website and felt like I had hit the jackpot.
Paul was focused on northern-hardy plants that are very hardy in a variety of growing conditions. He also was concerned about the whole plant looking good, both bloom and foliage quality, and about plants that will fit well within a landscape. This particularly resonated with me. And the flowers of his daylilies blew my mind. I took a flier on emailing him and to my surprise he emailed back.
We proceeded to exchange quite a few emails and have to a certain extent become friends. After extensive research I placed an order with him this past December, and he responded by adding to my order some absolutely fantastic gift plants. I was all-in now and wanted even more. Because my budget was already broken I researched some more to find some quality but inexpensive daylilies that would be complimentary to the ones I will be receiving from Paul. The daylilies of Ron Mercer especially caught my attention. When I read that he forces his seedlings to survive a fight with weeds in a bed of poor soil quality I was amazed. I now have a total of almost fifty daylilies on order from Paul Owen and two different daylily nurseries (Keast Daylily Gardens and Harmon Hill Farm).
I’ve been working feverishly revising existing landscape beds and designing new ones to accommodate all the exciting new kids that will be coming my way this Spring. Each plant will be given room to form a nice clump, and combining daylilies based on flower color, bloom height, and bloom time has been challenging but a lot of fun. Hopefully I did not bite-off more than I can chew because it is going to take a lot of work making the beds and doing all the planting. I am going to be one very busy guy this Spring for sure. But I can’t wait to see the fruits of my research and labor become reality.
Of course there is no guarantee that all these daylilies will do great, but it has been a blast learning about them (and developing a new obsession). I am sure I will be rewarded with more than a few enjoyable viewing experiences. Daylilies have come a long way since “Rocket City” in 1967 and I am confident it will be a true joy to see these great plants and blooms up-close and personal. It should be truly satisfying. It should keep me satisfied for a very long time. Well, maybe. I don’t have any of these new daylilies planted yet and I’m already starting to feel the urge to make some crosses. Could there actually be a whole new aspect to daylilies for me to become obsessed with? Lord have mercy!
Mar 28, 2015 9:50 AM CST
|WELCOME! Glad you decided to join up! |
Mar 28, 2015 9:51 AM CST
Mar 28, 2015 9:54 AM CST
Mar 28, 2015 10:02 AM CST
You should see if there's a Daylily Society near you. The AHS (American Hemerocallis Society) website can help you with that. If there IS one, they should have a show sometime this summer. Most shows include a plant sale where you can get locally grown, good plants for a great price (and no shipping fees!).
Paul Owen is awesome - I'm glad you connected with him.
And glad you took the plunge and joined us here.
Be careful though - Daylilies are addictive. http://garden.org/ideas/view/f...
Northwest Georgia Daylily Society
I'm going to retire and live off of my savings. Not sure what I'll do that second week.
My yard marches to the beat of a bohemian drummer...
Mar 28, 2015 10:42 AM CST
Enjoyed reading the story!
Mar 28, 2015 10:49 AM CST
| Dennis!! You came to the right place! We're all enablers here! |
Mar 28, 2015 11:00 AM CST
|Dennis, you need to try your hand at hybridizing. That is where the fun is for many of us, and it is so easy to do!! You may get more uglies than pretties, but it is a lot of fun! And, you get free daylilies that way too! They can fill a gap until you put something better in their place.|
Mar 28, 2015 11:04 AM CST
| it's a lot of work, but worth it 2 years later!|
Nothing like walking out in your garden and seeing brand new seedling daylilies blooming!
Mar 28, 2015 11:35 AM CST
| Dennis! Enjoyed reading how you got into dl's and so glad you have joined us |
I do believe once you have your daylilies and see them in bloom, you will become addicted like the rest of us!
May all your weeds be wildflowers. ~Author Unknown
Mar 28, 2015 11:46 AM CST
|Fiwit: Joining a Daylily Society sounds like something I’d like to look into. I’m afraid the daylily addiction affliction has already taken root in me so I may as well feed it! But I don’t want to go as far as Paul Owen has. While he is busy with more than just daylilies, he is going insane he has so much going on. |
Natalie: I am definitely going to try hybridizing. I haven’t even started and I’m already addicted. As you probably can tell, I am a researcher. I’ve been reading up on it and even started planning some crosses. While I know to expect the unexpected, it sure is fun trying to make some predictions. I’m pretty good with a photo editing program and I’ve been playing around with overlaying blooms on top of each other with a 50% blend just to see if the colors are “compatible” and what the color mix might look like. For me that is fun. Of course I know that probably won't help too much and I am sure to be surprised more than anything. I plan to get serious on a small scale and see what happens. Seeing those first blooms of my “creations” will have to be a great experience.
Kidfishing: I definitely have figured out hybridizing is a lot of work, and I am struggling to decide if I really want to set up a heated and lit seedling starting area inside my unheated pole barn (as opposed to throwing them into a seedling bed outdoors). Not sure if it would be worth the cost and effort... But would love to get the seedlings a head start so I can better assess the exciting new blooms in two years! Still deciding...
vickie-- I'm already addicted and I haven't seen the new daylilies yet. I'm afraid what may happen when I do
Mar 28, 2015 12:04 PM CST
|Dennis, you will probably be surprised, more than anything!|
Hazel Crest, IL (Zone 5b)
There's a place of quiet rest !
Mar 28, 2015 12:48 PM CST
| Dennis!!! You are going to love it here.|
"Life as short as it is, is amazing isn't it ?" Michael Burton
Name: Hilary Picton
Dousland, Devon UK (Zone 9a)
Mar 28, 2015 1:12 PM CST
| Dennis. I am fairly new to this forum also, everyone is just so friendly and helpful.|
Ooh your story sounds familiar. I was given a couple of daylilies by my sister when I returned from living in the Middle East for 32 years in 2008 and settled back into south-west Devon, England. While we were away I had just grown shrubs as they needed little attention but once home I started to clear the old shrubs and plant perennials. I loved the daylilies and bought some on eBay from a lovely lady called Jennie who became a friend. She stoked my passion for daylilies and now I have almost 200 named varieties and also a load of seedlings grown from seeds bought on the lily auction (a neighbour gave me a piece of her vegetable garden for this purpose - I have nice neighbours!). Now my garden is full to overflowing and still I can't resist buying these plants, I don't think there's a cure for this addiction
Mar 28, 2015 2:00 PM CST
|to ATP and the Daylily forum! I enjoyed reading your story. Good to hear you have had help from some great folks like Paul and Carl. We are still thawing out here as well with a lot to do in the garden before bloom season in 3 months. Look forward to seeing images and hearing about the progress of your garden.|
Mar 28, 2015 2:12 PM CST
|Welcome to the daylilies enabler club. I did enjoy the story of how your addiction came to be..... and you say you plan to get "serious on a small scale". |
Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most.
More ramblings at http://thegatheringplacehome.m...
Mar 28, 2015 2:52 PM CST
Natalie said:Dennis, you will probably be surprised, more than anything!
I’m just hoping there are a few pleasant surprises awaiting me! I’ve read anywhere from 1 in 200 to 1 in 1000 end up being introduction-worthy. I imagine the suspense of waiting for the first true blooms of seedlings will be unbearable. I’m sure at first I’ll be thrilled with anything half-way decent. They'll be my own children, after all. I can't imagine the pain of having to compost the ones that don't quite make the grade. Hybridizing must be very bitter-sweet...
Hazelcrestmikeb said: Dennis!!! You are going to love it here.
http://garden.org/i/s/thankyou... I think I will. And that could be an existential threat to my freetime. But that's OK! http://garden.org/i/s/smily.gi...
Halfprice said: : Now my garden is full to overflowing and still I can't resist buying these plants, I don't think there's a cure for this addiction
I was having a VERY difficult time holding back on my original purchases for this Spring. Sometimes choice can be overwhelming, and I was definitely experiencing paralysis by analysis. I tried to convince myself I didn’t have the money, time, or landscape space for more. Somehow I have a feeling that come next fall I’ll be fighting that same battle. There really is always room for more, isn't there? http://garden.org/i/s/nodding....
Char said: : We are still thawing out here as well with a lot to do in the garden before bloom season in 3 months. Look forward to seeing images and hearing about the progress of your garden.
As you know Spring sure has a way of cruelly teasing us with a few days of warmer weather only to go back to lows in the teens like the past couple nights. A couple weeks ago we had a warm tease and I actually got a start on some of the beds. Sounds like next week will be pretty nice and I’ll definitely be out there. Will be sure to post a few pics for you all…
MaryE said:Welcome to the daylilies enabler club. I did enjoy the story of how your addiction came to be..... and you say you plan to get "serious on a small scale".
:lol: I actually did say that didn’t I. Mission impossible? I'm sure some day I'll think back about that as I am standing in the middle of my giant seedling bed and laugh...
Mar 28, 2015 3:14 PM CST
|I have found that determining before hand at least the general area new plants are going, is a big stress reliever.|
Make tags then find a place for the tags, and you will have a pretty good idea if you can find places for all the new plants....I just don't always do that. I am getting better at it...I think.
Mar 28, 2015 3:40 PM CST
Seedfork said:I have found that determining before hand at least the general area new plants are going, is a big stress reliever.
Good advice, Larry. I think I am on the right track. I knew that with this many plants coming I had to have my act together. I really did not want to have to pot them up first while I figured out their permanent homes.
I first went around the landscape looking for places where beds could be expanded and new beds created. I then placed empty 3-gallon shrub pots where I thought I could plant the daylilies. I spaced the pots to allow for a 3-foot circle because I want them all to be able to clump-up. I then could visualize pretty well whether or not it was going to work.
After that I re-created the beds in an Excel spreadsheet, made thumbnail images of all the daylilies on my purchase list (with their names and key characteristics underneath the thumbnail), and tried to figure out where each specific daylily would go. That to me was a LOT of fun, but the hours I have spent doing that have almost driven me crazy. Too many good options!