Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox and other native plants for pollinators

Monday, June 2, 2008

A Fable: The Gardener and The Daylilies


Tucked in the back of one of my favorite garden book were three pages ripped from my first and only garden journal...coincidentally, they were the only pages I ever wrote. They were also, as it turns out, three very important pages. The first sentence in the journal reads:

"Day Lily planning is hard, but they arrived and I planted them all."

It was Earth Day and I planted 37 bare root Daylilies. They had arrived a day earlier in two big boxes. You could tell they had just been dug...they looked healthy and a little dirt was still clinging to the roots. They had huge fans.

Following the instructions of Gilbert Wild and Sons I soaked them.

Daylily planning is hard, but they arrived and I planted them all. I wish you were here with me now, I am laughing my head off remembering that day and what I wrote. It was 18 years ago...I had never ordered bare rooted anything and was completely shocked by the magnitude of my task.

What was I thinking when I ordered them? I had an 8 year old son, a husband who traveled and a private practice. What was I thinking?

I was younger and had more energy. But really, I fell in love with the Daylilies after reading their description in the sales brochure. More importantly, I wanted to garden. But, I wanted to garden on a bigger scale then I had been able to (busy life). It was a bonus that they were on sale! It was a great sale.

Daylily planning is hard, but they arrived and I planted them all. With 37 bare rooted plants you have to plant... So I sat down, drew out a plan, based on color, bloom time, height of scapes...and the next day...while the plants were soaking, I dug a garden bed and then I planted them.

They grew in spite of my lack of preparation and my rather haphazard plan. I think I went outside everyday to check on them. The scapes began to develop almost overnight. The first to flower was Beckoning Beauty. I wrote the date next to her name in my journal!
Beckoning Beauty~ May 23, '90.

This is Whimsical? Or Mystery Valley! One of them, I'm pretty sure! But not Beckoning Beauty.


Which brings me to why those 3 pages are the most important pages. They contain the original planting plan and a complete list of the 37 Daylilies I planted April 23, 1990. Every one of those 37 bare rooted daylilies...bloomed the summer of 1990. They bloomed beautifully for years...the garden matured, the trees grew denser and the bed got shadier. They didn't bloom as vigorously and eventually, some didn't bloom at all. I could identify a few beloved varieties, but I couldn't find the master plan to identify the others....The master plan was a drawing of the original bed and where each named variety of daylily was planted. The three important pages ripped from my garden journal.

We decided to build the porch and dug up the Coneflowers, the Ox-Eye Daisies and all the other perennials that had come to live in the daylily bed. I'm just not sure all 37 survived the trauma of a summer and fall in a kiddie pool where they waited while the porch was being built. I do know that in the chaos of garden destruction and the excitement of remodeling that the daylilies were no longer identifiable by me. They were at this point just green leaves.

But all is not lost. They are happy in their new home in full sun. They have plumped up and bloomed. Now, with list in hand and photographs, good digital photographs, I can search the internet and identify some, if not all of the survivors of my lack of planning.

Daylilies are incredible plants...my first loves. (Wildflowers are my soul mates.) Don't you agree that these work horses, the survivors of my neglect, deserve others knowing their names? I want to know their names. I want to be able to say...that beautiful white daylily with the hint of melon in her throat is


Ice Carnival. Isn't she a beauty! This photo is from the White Flower Farm website. She is in my garden waiting to bloom this summer....I found her name on the list that was tucked in the back of EL's book, The Little Bulbs.

I have great hopes that most will have a name tag before long!

Some of the Daylilies are well known to me!


The yellow daylily is Kindly Light, an old soul of a daylily... described in the literature as a classic spider. Still loved by the public, almost half a century after it was introduced.

I love it, too. I can't help it I am a sucker for simple. This Daylily is simply beautiful to me. It's my first love and you all know, we never seem to get over them!

Gail


I almost forgot. All fables have morals or lessons: Nothing bothers a gardener more than to see she has aided her own undoing;-)



42 comments:

  1. Great post Gail. I love daylilies and you have some great ones. Kindly light IS GREAT and does look like a spider!!

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  2. Oh Gail, I was enjoying this beautifully written post so much, reading your fun account of garden excess and remembering a few daylily orders of my own [I'd climbed slowly to a total of 48 before we left IL].

    Just as I was thinking how great it was that yours thrived after 18 years, the image of 'Kindly Light' rolled onto the screen and knocked me between the eyes.

    'Kindly Light' was one of my favorites, but when I chose 6 daylilies to travel with us to Austin, the lemon spider had to stay behind because it was a dormant variety, and every thing I read said it would not survive Austin's short, warmish winters.

    I still miss my daylilies but am very glad to see that your 'Wilde' order is bringing you pleasure.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

    PS My 1989 Gilbert Wilde choices were 'Sunblest', 'Charm Bracelet', 'Jug of Wine', 'Winnie the Pooh', 'Matteus', 'Coming Your Way', 'Green Canyons', 'Luxury Lace', 'Sweet Harmony', 'Alice in Wonderland', 'Sweet Kathleen', 'Timeless', 'Kindly Light' and 'Annie Welch'...any of those names ring a bell?

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  3. Annie,

    I wish you could have Kindly Light! I truly see it as an old soul!

    Annie Welch, Timeless or the ones I bought...but, Annie, everyone of your choices is very familiar to me. I poured over the brochure and calculated and wondered until I made my choices!

    I am tickled pink that you enjoyed this post...As I was writing it, more memories surfaced. This happens often with my own writing and very often when I read other blogger's post. It is the best thing about blogging...connecting with ourselves at this deeper level and connecting with others!

    I went to the Wilde site this morning and may order more...Hmm, maybe not...I only have so much full sun!

    Gail

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  4. Jean,

    Hello! Good you stopped by! The Hollyhocks have been so wonderful...it has given one of my sisters a way to feel closer to my mom. Thank you, you are a darling.

    Gail

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  5. This is a nice story. I cannot believe you ordered and planted 37 daylillies! That does sound like work. I know you have lived there 20 years, but did you really start gardening a few years after you moved in? You were pretty smart to plan where to plant them. I am always moving stuff in my garden because I am not as good as a planner as I ought to be.:(

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  6. See how valuable a gardening journal can be! I remember ordering lots of daylilies too (and as a matter of fact, I ordered from Gilbert Wild also) and mine have suffered the same fate - too much shade now. I've been digging some up this year and trying to relocate them. My great aunt was crazy about daylilies and had a huge collection. I remember her telling me that she once spent $350 on a coveted variety and I thought at the time she was crazy. However, since becoming a gardening fiend myself, I can totally understand why she could spend so much money on a plant.

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  7. Tina,

    Almost immediately! Bulbs, a few plants that I wanted desperately to grow like Lavenders...I didn't correct the soil or anything... most died! Plan! Tina 37 daylilies forced me to plan. That was the last time I ever put a plan to paper! I fly by the seat of my pants and move things all the time...my plants have Visa stamps from all the spots that have lived in!

    I know you plan a little! I have seen your beautiful combinations

    Gail

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  8. Gail I check in every single day, just do not always comment. Only so much time and as anyone would expect, Commenting on Tina's comes first!! You are very much welcomed. Hope you enjoy some also. I had bought them just 2 or 3 days before you first talked about them and then it took me a week or more to get them out. I am so bad about mailing things, even letters. Puters ruined me. LOL.

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  9. Phillip,

    Yes, garden journals are us! You did see my Bouquet of plant tags didn't you!

    I couldn't ever spend that much on a flower but then I haven't fallen in love with expensive ones!

    Gilbert Wild had the best sales...shall we head over there and check them out again? He has set up a bargain bin! 70 off!

    gail

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  10. I love daylilies, too. Thirty-seven at one time sounds like a lot of work! I'm impressed you had a journal back then and were able to find those missing pages. This is my first year of trying to keep a journal--I'd like to underline the word trying. I have no idea of the specific names of most of my plants.

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  11. This sounds vaguely like me in my Daylily phase, but I was never so ambitious as to order 37 daylilies, much less plant them at one time. Good luck sorting them out. I discovered that too many of the "Chicago" Daylilies look an awful lot alike.

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  12. Rose,

    Good luck with the journal...I discovered I am not a journal writer at all...unless this qualifies as one and I don't think it does! I try to get plant books that have the Latin names and reading them over and over again they start to stick. Not always!

    Let's just say that it was ignorance of what 37 bare root plants required!

    Gail

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  13. MMD,

    Yes, the daylily phase! I even joined the Society...I never laughed so hard as I did with the members. You are correct all those daylilies have melon coloring look like the other ones with melon coloring! Did you ever read Mrs Greenthumbs...she had a Daylily phase, too...and complained that all the fancy descriptions meant one thing....shades of orange! Too funny!

    I was nuts and inexperienced 18 yrs ago!

    Gail

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  14. Gail .. I'm typing this from bed and have a big goofy grin on my face .. YES ! .. Day lilies were my first enticement to garden .. I though how can they be so easy and so beautiful ? .. I have not written down anything in my journal this year .. have "books" from other years (the weather was a great thing to rely on for each stage of where I should be with the garden) .. what happened ? the computer ... the blog .. Blotanical ? .. all of them combined ? BIG sigh !
    Loved this post .. a real gardener in a real world : )

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  15. Love the daylilies. I think every gardener goes through a "daylily phase" and ends up with some unnamed varieties or varieties they've forgotten the names of. Some of the first flowers I planted in my first garden were daylilies. I just might have to write something about my daylily phase and link back to you!

    Did you know I live within walking distance of an actual daylily grower. And they have hundreds of daylilies. HUNDREDS.

    I want the Kindly Lights now and might just see if they have one!

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

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  16. Gail, I'm glad many of those daylilies are still with you to remind you of your gardening roots. I had a plan this year: I'd intended to photograph each unlabeled daylily as it bloomed, assigning it a number, then use my database and the pictures to work on their IDs this summer. I intended to make new tags using fade-resistant paint markers, tags that would leave no doubt as to which daylily was which. And this is why I don't make plans ... I get sidetracked and fail to follow through! Next year, though ...

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  17. Joy,

    I wished you had been on a video feed with me when I was writing it...I was laughing so hard I know I exercised my abdominal muscles! I still really like daylilies but I go for the simpler ones, not the big diamond suted , ruffled, ones. They are nice but give me a Kindly Light any day. Thank you calling me a real gardener; it's truly the perfect compliment! You realize that you are one, too!


    gail

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  18. carol,

    You needs must walk over there and get some Kindly Light. I think the spider variants are the best, simple but elegant. Write about your Daylily phase, I know you will make me smile!

    Gail

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  19. Cindy,

    That was a good plan and next year works well, too! I am often sidetracked!

    I am glad I still have the Daylilies, as you say they are a great connection to my gardening roots.

    Is it horribly hot down there?

    Gail

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  20. Do you think every new gardener goes through this learning stage of overordering and underestimating the energy needed for the task at hand? I did the same with rose bushes and, as in your case, the shade took over and roses are not so durable here. I do remember their heady scent and the bouquets I took to the nurse in the orthodontists office! Daylilies would have been a better choice.

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  21. This post was really fun to read, Gail! It's always really fun and interesting to re-read what you wrote many years ago and those words always mean something new. It brings you back to that time.... good memories!

    Daylilies are so beautiful. I think it would have been fun to see your original garden. Sounds like it was a fun adventure!

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  22. Daylilies are wonderful plants, giving so much and asking so little from the gardener. I'm like you---I want to know the names. Good luck rediscovering them.

    By the way, I received the seeds you sent, and I'm delighted to have a little bit of Clay and Limestone to try in my own clay-and-limestone garden. :-)

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  23. Layanee,

    I think we have to, it's such a universal experience...there isn't a gardener that I know who hasn't overdone and underestimated...I can recommend daylilies! There are even some that bloom in shadier spots, especially the reds, they need afternoon shade. I have discovered one that has scapes that are 6 foot tall! Autumn Minaret! Even though I love my natives, I may have to go for this one! Your yard good handle that size.

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  24. DP,

    If I were to go back to the beginning I would do it a bit differently! Isn't that what we all say about events in our lives and especially our gardens! It was a fun adventure and the memories are indeed good. You are creating your own and what a learning experience.

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  25. Pam,

    Glad you got them. If they don't survive, we'll try again. How could they fail? I took those seeds from a particularly tough growing spot...their genes are tough! I used to see them growing out of the limestone in the parks.

    I will try to find the names. I think I said this to MMD, they all begin to resemble one another, especially the melon touched.

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  26. Great post Gail! It makes me want to go out and get more daylilies! Ironically I just transplanted two (that turned into 4) last night. I planted a couple lavender colored daylilies near the veggie garden a couple days ago. They just give you constant color through the summer!

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  27. Dave,

    You can't lose with Daylilies, maybe that is why most of us have a Daylily phase...lavender is a pleasant change from the orange ones and I bet they look good in your garden.

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  28. Hi Gail, this fable is a delight. 37 is alot, a whole lot of holes to dig, and you dug the bed in one day and planted too? You were a dynamo! I hope you are able to match the names to the flowers and find all 37, it's possible! We have a daylily farm near us called Sunshine Hollow, it really is in the 'holler' with mountains on all sides. They offer a home made lunch with home made ice cream to eat on a big covered patio with breezes making it ever so pleasant. I go every year and buy a few more, I have never bought bare root ones, but they always give you a free one at SH when you buy some and they are bare root, all have done great. Trying to keep track of what is planted where, with the moving and such has been a struggle. Good luck on your ID, I don't have any of the ones you or others have mentioned, but do have more than fifty, or sixty, I stopped counting at that point. ;->
    Frances

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  29. Frances,

    It was a long day and 18 years ago we were pretty young! It was also a very simple little bed...I found a photo of it. I may post it! It was the only spot in the yard without boulders and rocks! Long days, too much heavy lifting and a few years later....arthritis!

    All garden centers need to serve ice cream, lemonade and all sorts of goodies, especially when you consider how much people spend there.

    Gail

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  30. Gail, yep, it's been pretty miserable here, thanks to the heat & humidity. It's particularly cruel because the days look so pretty from inside: blue skies, sunshine, a few puffy white clouds here and there. Then you step out the door and get slammed! I should note that today was better than yesterday, courtesy of a light breeze. It's very pleasant out tonight: wish I could rig floodlights to work after dark, although my neighbors might not be too thrilled.

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  31. cindy,

    You need a headlamp...like miners use! I use a backpacking headlamp to read at night, it's not hooked up to my head but it is a good reading light and doesn't bother my husband.

    It sounds miserable, is it hotter than usual for this time of year? I noticed it's 81 degrees right now and it's 10:20pm...that means it's really hot and not fun to sleep with the windows open, we don't usually get this hot for a few more weeks. open...I miss spring!

    Gail

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  32. Just stopped by to see how you are doing. Looks like you are organizing. I'm not good at that. I hope you influence me. I don't journal except on here. I would like to start keeping some pressed flowers. I have always wanted to do that.

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  33. How cool to find your journal pages after so many years, and to be able to match the names with the faces of your daylilies!

    I love this story. It reminds me of the first couple of years here in this garden. There was almost nothing in the garden except maple roots, pine nugget mulch, and a few struggling hostas. I was a planting fool, with nice, fat WFF gift certificates from my dear husband, and ended up feeling just a bit(!) overwhelmed by the number of plants I'd mail-ordered those first two springs. Planting them would be stretched out over several days, as my health at the time wasn't good and I didn't have much energy or strength.

    There are still some things I'd like to move from those days, since I got to the point where I didn't really care where they went as long as they were in the ground!

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  34. Is it hotter than usual? It sure FEELS like it and looking at the historical data, the actual temperatures are 5 to 7 degrees higher than they were in 2006 & 2007. I had to come in at 1 pm on Monday, but yesterday I made it until 5. A breeze does make a difference! Of course, it means the plants dry out even faster so it's a mixed blessing.

    A backpacking headlamp ... hmmmmmm.

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  35. garden girl,

    Like children our eyes were bigger than our stomaches....my gram always said things like that! Oh, my!

    I do hope to be able to identify some of them...I wonder can they cross pollinate and could some be the offspring of the originals and not the originals?

    There are a few things I would move and redo...and you are so right I did plop plants and trees into the ground, as you said. I just wanted them planted; now I put them on the driveway and water them until the fall, so much easier! I can still feed my addiction but not make monumental mistakes....

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  36. Anna,

    Glad you're back I like the look of your blog! Handsome man helps!

    What is all this with Blotanical? Do your visitors come from there? I have no idea how people find me...mostly it is you wonderful regulars!

    Gail

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  37. Cindy,

    I think that is hotter than usual!

    Are you retired or have an office at home? I feel fortunate to work part time and garden/blog full time!

    get the headlamp and then post a photo!

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  38. I'm a kept woman :-) I've spent most of the last 24 years as a full time mom, with occasional part time forays into the work world. Now that the kids are 24 and 19, I'm free to do my own thing, which is made possible by my very agreeable and tolerant husband. He has zero interest in gardening but he does enjoy the compliments we get about the gardens!

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  39. Cindy,

    I have a very agreeable and tolerant husband, too!

    Do please get the headlamp, I want to see a photo of you working in the garden with it on! Cindy, mosquitoes will come from 2 counties to find you!

    Gail

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  40. What a great post. Umm, kind of reminds me of what I did earlier this year. I am now looking back asking myself what in the world I was thinking when I planted this here? I'll wait until they're done blooming and then transplant them to more hospitable places.

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  41. Cinj,

    Oh the learning we do in gardening...I planted a tree in the very worst place and now I have to have it taken out!

    I'm glad to liked the post...how's your gardening coming along?

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  42. Gail---I live on Greeley and heard about your gardening and web site from a walker friend. What a wonderful love we have. Emily

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Let us be grateful to people who make us happy;
they are the charming gardeners
who make our souls blossom.


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