a Girl and her Garden

...learning about daylilies one blog post at a time!

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Welcome to 'a Girl and her Garden'

I am so glad you are visiting today! Since 2009 I have been using this space to share photographs, haiku and stories about my 20-year love affair with the daylily.

Relax and enjoy your stay here.

I dig the daylily beacuse it is forgiving, surprising and beautifully brief. Why do YOU dig it?

Thursday, February 4, 2016

'Tension' in the flower... | Daylily Blog

Tension is a balance maintained in an artistic work between opposing forces or elements; a controlled dramatic or dynamic quality.  It is a force created through stretching or pulling- a situation or condition of hostility, suspense, or uneasiness. 

Dynamic tension is one of my favorite tools to use when photographing daylilies.  This is one of the best articles on the topic.   Or Google 'dynamic tension in photography' and you will find some wonderful examples and rabbit holes. 

In a nutshell, dynamic tension in a photograph is using the energy and movement available in various features of the frame to draw the eye out of the picture, in contrasting directions.  

When I shoot a photo, the viewer should feel the overwhelming need to go into the photo, or follow wherever the edges of the photo lead.  It's movement and intention, not just proof of life.

Enjoy the example of H. 'Whale Tails' below.  As you look at it, note how your eyes focus and dart and move around the photo,  having a second or two of visual fun.  You aren't just observing it, you're kinda experiencing it.

The photos that resonate most with me are those that have a starting point.  
Where does my eye go first?  
Is it pleasing?  Is it lasting?  
Does it "lead" somewhere else in the frame?  (dynamic tension)
In my brain, these questions happen in a split second as I set up the frame and shoot the photo.  The questions also really only started occurring to me after my eyes felt the difference between photo documentation and photo discovery.    

In the two photos below, my eyes FEEL something when looking at the photo on the left. I feel motion flowing off the edges in two directions in that photo.

The photo on the right is the same bed just taken three steps closer.  It is a fine photo documenting a mass planting, but it has no movement and is less pleasing to my eye when compared to a photo framed using the dynamic tension concept.  Once you read that article, and interpret some of the examples below, you will start to see the dynamic tension everywhere - in buildings, in car design, in architecture, in the music that inspires you the most.

Maybe the concept of dynamic tension can be translated to evaluating for distinction in the seedling bed or on the show tables.  The interplay of conflicting elements adding to its allure...hmmmm...

I find dynamic tension in this example of H. 'San Juan Nights'.  The directional pull feels up and down in this photo- those lilting, heavy petals stretching themselves with gravity.  I also see dark against light.  One against many.  

And in the below photo of a seedling seen at Floyd Cove last May that I cannot get off my mind - the dynamic tension is flying directly into my face - head on - right out of that photo. It's pushing against the background, leaving it in a blur. 

(Karen Pierce, I wish I would have gotten a photo of this tag.  This one was my ultimate favorite from my Mecca visit with you last year!)

If you takeaway just one thought, it should be that good photographs start at the moment you frame it - not at the moment you open your editing tools.  Thoughtful framing generates thoughtful photos, and dynamic tension is just one element to consider and explore.  And like the endless shrimp cocktail lures in Vegas, just because its there, doesn't mean you have to take it.  Partake wisely and sparingly. 

Have fun out there!  Til next time- 

Friday, January 22, 2016

SEEING RED | Daylily Haiku Thursday

Showing off today in Daylily Haiku Thursday is one of the few red daylilies I love, and it's Mike Holmes' H. 'Happy Holidays to You.'  I have grown it into a large clump, moved it three states, and hardly ever offer it for sale because I cannot bear the thought of digging up my five year old clump.  It's prickly in all the right places and is a nice shade of tomato red.  If you grow it, you're also aware it is on the shorter side, but again, so am I.

I like the way the petals flare up from the sepals, and I also forgive it for the consistent color breaks because other values overshadow the nuisance of it.  What I loved about my own introduction H. 'Beer and BBQ' is that it struck me as a taller, beefier, more saturated version of this flower.  (HHTY is not in BAB's lineage.  Mine had Dan Bachman's H. 'Susan Ruoff' as a pod parent.)  Here's more of H. 'Happy Holidays to You.'

Some garden judges remark when they see it that it is a poor plant due to its blooming so close to the foliage.  Certainly it is more desirable in most cases to have the scapes grow at least a foot (or  several) above the foliage, but this one has a great face that makes wonderful floating bouquets of blooms on my summer tables and is so macro-photogenic!  This last summer I lined ten small glass vases up down my dining table and placed one bloom of this in each vase.  It was a gorgeous table runner for a garden club tea that some still mention when I see them now.

Sometimes my daylilies serve other purposes than just garden value.  Some I keep for a particular fragrance. Some whites I keep because they open at night and I can enjoy them on the moon patio the night before, but they look crappy as soon as the temp hits 80F the next day.  Those get liveheaded in the morning.  #moveon

Here's a view of the seedling fields a few years ago at Riverbend Gardens in Xenia, OH

Now for a little non-daylily fun this week!  Another blogger challenged me to widen the scope of what you see from me  (ir OF me) each time you visit, and challenged me to let you in a little more than I normally would - connect with you in a different way than just gardening or daylily photography.  

So, my surprisingly, but painfully introverted self takes a deep breath, and presents to you 25 things that you most likely do not know about me.  

1. I have seen all 48 contiguous United States.  By car.
2. Our family was built through the miracle of adoption.
3. I am an only child and I have two very cool and successful sisters-in-law that I don’t see often enough.
4. I have been engaged twice.
5. I have lived in 6 different states.
6. I like horseradish.  The hotter the better.
7. I am an accredited daylily flower show judge and judge's instructor who travels all over the country judging and entering in exhibition shows.
8. I skipped second grade and graduated high school when I was 16.  (yes, I did finally get to drive the last semester of my senior year)
9. I have had my head shaved.  Well, half of it anyway.
10. I am a NASCAR fan. (Go, #48.)
11. I love Mardi Gras, Halloween and the 4th of July.
12. I like the smell of amusement parks.
13. I don’t much like escalators.
14. We have been foster parents.
15. I might have a scrapbooking supply problem.
16. I have stayed up all night on the beach.   Alone and with others.
17. The scars on my right hand are from a feral, stray cat biting all the way through it.
18. I have a problem with The Food Network.  The problem?  I watch too much of it.
19. Michigan was not on my life plan, but I miss it now that I am gone.
20. I have a cast from the original model mold of ‘The Bird Girl’ in my garden.  (you know, the haunting statue from the opening scene of Midnight In The Garden of Good and Evil…)
21. In my life I have owned 6 dogs.  A Brittany spaniel named Brandy, a Siberian Husky named Sheba, two Boston Terriers (Floyd and Lucy) and two Golden Retrievers – The Head and The Rock Star (aka Spunky and Rocky.)
22. On my journey to a Master’s, I have attended 4 colleges.
23. I have never smoked a cigarette in my life, nor have I ever had a cup of coffee.
24. I have read 12 books written about or by Hillary Clinton.
25. I think if I could go back to any day in my life and start over from there, it would be the first day of high school.

Sharing all that makes my skin crawl a bit, but it's part of that collective experience, right?  

Two more shots from a visit to Riverbend.  (There's Sheila!  RIP)

Come on over to Facebook and comment something fun that people in your tribe might not know about you.  It was kinda fun and I'm looking forward to hearing from you!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Why Don’t People Volunteer? | Daylily Blog

Why Don’t People Volunteer?

You beg and plead.  You’ve emailed and phoned and Facebooked.  You’ve updated the website and sent a few personal handwritten notes asking for volunteers.

Aside from the crickets, the only answers to your call for help come from those familiar few in your group who always rise reluctantly and fully when asked. 

Every time.

There are 100 capable people in the group, yet the same 6-8 always volunteer to chair committees, make the coffee and host the picnic.  They plan the bus tours and the speaker line up and make sure that there are gluten-free snacks.  

Why don’t others in the group feel the need to contribute to the community?

Volunteerism is quite a riddle.  Research is available on why people volunteer (or don’t.)  The scholarly consensus is that the recruiting and retention of volunteers is difficult for a myriad of reasons, however, a concentrated effort on the motivation of potential volunteers presents positive results in getting and keeping members involved.

Evelyn Beck (Beck, 2015) states that researchers agree on six volunteer motivators:

“People volunteer to make a difference in others’ lives; to support an organization, community or cause; to learn something new; to develop personally or professionally; to feel better about themselves; and to meet people.”

As Beck further investigates, the most committed and dependable volunteers are motivated on a very personal level.  

People join organizations to be enriched in some way, and if they are lucky, to enrich the life of someone else.  
They join to grow.  
They join to learn something new.    
They don’t join to be bled dry of time, energy and resources year in and year out.  
They don’t come to meetings to listen to the board quibble and bicker during the business meeting.  
They don’t take time out of their schedules to not be appreciated and to not hear please and thank you.
As a matter of fact, no one does.
Enthusiastic, knowledgeable, willing, fun folks who step out of their comfort zones to show up at a club meeting only to be met with the burden of those who choose to live in drama.  Those who are saddled with the frustration of “what we used to be” and the fear of “what will we become?”  That unspoken resentment of fresh eyes and new blood.  New folks are not greeted with the open arms and rose-petal showers you would think club leadership would instinctively roll out.  I’ve watched them be ignored, under appreciated, under communicated to and underutilized.  If committed and dependable volunteers aren’t easily found, maybe you aren’t motivating them on a personal level – or maybe your approach is motivating them to run instead of stay.  Speaking as frankly as I can, there are local clubs teeming with decades of resentment and entitlement.  It is too easy to take kindness, money, energy and the rolodex and go join somewhere else.  There has to be another way.

Membership has declined in many horticulture societies (local and global) and the spotlight is on how to change this trend.  “How do we retain current members and grow new ones?” is a perennial question for organizations of all sizes.  Most groupthink likes to quickly attribute the losses to aging and the economy, but I think you can cite those two culprits as the cause of most malaise.  It's deeper than that.  Today’s landscape of extracurricular opportunities is greener than it has ever been thanks to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, podcasting and various types of in-person meet ups and chat spaces.  Time is no longer limitless and it stretched thin faster than we expected.  Club leadership has to step it up to retain and grow membership because overall membership is shrinking and to reverse the trend, it is going to require radical change and a return to a place love and kindness, and one of shared respect, gratitude and a value for shared interests.  

So those of us who thrive in and enjoy social organizations, those who like the community and the connection of being with other humans in the same room at the same time sharing the same interests, we have some interesting challenges ahead of us to keep our groups alive.

What if in 2016, you radically changed your approach to volunteerism in your group?

What if you changed your perspective for every club action to be this is what the club has to offer youinstead of “this is what the club needs from you.”

Here is a plan for that 'concentrated effort' mentioned above:

1. Get your leadership all aboard the same on the fun train.  

2. Take time to clearly identify the needs of the organization and what volunteers are needed.  

3. Make an easy-to-read handout of the group’s needs and easy-to-use sign-up.  

4. Set up a table at your next membership meeting of 2016 and decorate it in a bright, fun way.  

5. Highlight each of the events and what is needed of each volunteer.  

6. Offer, “Everyone who signs up to help at one of our events will receive…”  

7. Print out the membership list and make it easy for members to edit their information.

Here’s the plan with more detail:

1. Get your leadership all aboard the same on the fun train.  This means everyone on the core team agrees that they will put effort behind retaining and growing membership in 2016.

2. Take time to clearly identify the needs of the organization and what volunteers are needed.  Say please and thank you.  Sit down with one large print out of the entire year, and another for each month of the year.  Mark out all your traditional meetings and yearly events.

3. Make an easy-to-read handout of the group’s needs and easy-to-use sign-up sheets with clipboards and pencils for the next meeting.  Each event you identified in step 2 gets its own page.  What jobs need done?  In what time frame?  How many bodies are needed?  Is there any money involved?  People will volunteer more readily if they know your expectations and are allowed some creative leeway to complete the task as needed.  Offer trust.  Offer resources.  And offer a please and thank you.

4. Set up a table at your first membership meeting of 2016 and decorate it in a bright, fun way.  Use a bright tablecloth, set out literature, put out a little dish of good chocolates (Thanks, Patrice) and staff the table with your two friendliest members that know about the group’s needs, like to smile and don’t tend to scare people off.  Say please and thank you.
              a. This table has three functions:
                      ii. COMMUNICATE NEEDS and GET VOLUNTEERS.

5. Highlight each of the events and what is needed of each volunteer.  Estimate the time requirements.

6. Offer, “Everyone who signs up to help at one of our events will receive…”  Maybe its $2 off dues, or maybe its entry into a special raffle for a $100 gift certificate to spend with whatever hybridizer or garden they choose.  Say please and thank you.

7. Print out the membership list (make one if you don’t already keep an electronic list of members with emails) and make it easy for members to edit and add to their information at this table.  Make sure everyone’s name is spelled right.  That’s important.  Make sure spouses and partners are noted on the list if they are members, too.

The bad news?  This is hard stuff.  It will take a concentrated effort to discuss, plan and execute your mission of difference in the coming year.  You'll have to keep this effort at the top of your minds and the tips of your tongues throughout the year.

The good news?  It works.  It gets easier and easier to get help from your kindreds  to create a positive collective experience for each other.

The better news?  Your club will transform into a organized group of willing volunteers that can focus on fun and friendship and less on fiefdoms and fussing.

The question is...are you ready for all the fun?

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Yeah. So I cry in the garden. | Daylily Blog

END OF THE YEAR CONFESSIONAL:  Yeah.  So I cry in the garden.  Mostly when I'm alone.  I cry over a lot of things when I'm out there.  Happy stuff, funny stuff, inspirational stuff, angry stuff, confusing stuff.  The garden is probably the best therapist I will ever have. 

December is always so abundant.  Its full of food and blessings and family and charity and work and travel and last minute crises.  Its never full of outside.  This year is thankfully different!  I took a few minutes to walk about the yard, since it was 50 degrees Fahrenheit yesterday, and just marveled at the life still going on out there.  I straightened some plant markers, picked a few weeds even!  Saw some reminders of a special friend who died this year and well, had an ugly cry.  For a minute, maybe two.  The dogs scrambled around me in their sunshine glee and distracted me from the melancholy.  I left it there and wandered away with the dogs.

I noticed the mushy semi-evergreen clumps of H. 'Morticia's Mascara', H. 'Kevin Thomas' and H. 'Baby Bear' and had to come in and check out the photos again.  Here they were this summer...

There are plants in the garden that have heard more of my stories than any human who knows me.  Ill never share those plants or move them out of the garden for fear someone will invent a device to hear plants talk. 

I'm reading a book about gardening right now and it is warming my heart and relates to the concepts of self-healing in the garden.  Cool stuff.  Here is a link to it if you're interested.  

I'm finding some solace and stress relief in depth more than breadth - and once I felt the difference, my gardening experience has shifted.  
And settled.  

This book is helping me see myself in the future and modify (enjoy) the journey on the way there.  I can think of many "gardening voices" that would be the BEST narrator for this book if it were ever turned into an audiobook. Grab it and enjoy the story this winter.  Ill bet you'll garden different in 2016 because of it.

Merry Christmas, friends!  Here's some H. 'Godiva Jam' for your holiday table. 

Til next time...

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Purging and Collecting and Reflecting | Daylily Blog

Welcome back and happy Thursday, friends!    

I know its already December, but it still feels like late Fall here in western Illinois. The photo above of Bill Waldrop's PASTOR LAURIE ANN MOELLER* reminds me of the sunsets here the last few days - those bright, weird colors lingering long into the evening.  We have sprinkled in a few late night fires outside this week, and I've even done some digging in the garden.  Just further evidence of the strange season it has been...

Over the course of July and August, as summer heated up and the daylilies waned, I stepped away from the world for a bit.  Priorities shifted and rotated.  It felt better to be more "in" than "out."  I purged stuff.  I collected other stuff.  It’s a vicious, beautiful, maddening game of garden chess.

I used my quiet, distracted energy to purge my daylily collection by about half.  It's become clear to me that I love a lot of daylilies (gasp) and I love the photos I have taken of the near 500 that grow here and I love the color combinations that appear when they are all in bloom.  I love all of the memories behind every one of them in my collection.  Some because of who hybridized it, some because of where I was when I first saw it, some because the form, color and size make my heart skip a beat.  But I cant keep them all.  

I have to let some of those memories go so that I can enjoy the new ones that are moving in.  

So September saw massive Facebook flash sales and auctions, and 32 boxes of free daylilies sent to new collectors all over the country!  It was fun to get to know Facebook connections that were new to daylilies and wanted to learn more about hybrid daylilies.  That was much-needed goodwill therapy.

October and November have been overflowing with elementary school events, computer work and home administrivia - as well as preparing to serve as President of the American Hemerocallis Society starting January 1.  Things are simmering now on all fronts and we are all looking forward to the holidays.  I'm headed off to the reengergized Buffalo Area Daylily Society this weekend to present my new program for 2016 - "The Collective Experience."  This is my theme this year, and will be my guidepost for my first year as AHS president.  Im excited to see how the program is received.  Check out the Calendar of Events for more scoop on the programs in my library.

If you are looking to get yourself a little something this holiday season, and you want to add some daylilies to your collection that might not be widely grown where you are, consider these choices.  They were SPECTACULAR this year in my own garden, and while I dont personally have any of these cultivars to sell, a quick Google search of the name and the word daylily might yeild you some possibilities.  If you have any of these to sell other readers, please note that in the comments below!

IDA MAE NORRIS  - (below, left) I could have eaten dinner off these blooms - they were so big and flat with an abundance of substance.  And what an icy pink!

RED SAPPHIRE   - (below, right) A masculine, yet fancy conversation piece.  Maybe the most photogenic in the garden this year.  Fragrant, reblooming, too.  I was so pleased to take home Best In Show at the 2015 Central Illinois Daylily Show with this cultivar!

HOLIDAY PARTY  - Kropf   (the 100%-est double in the garden on the most proportionate and beefy scapes out there.)

And from the Herrington's, HAT'S OFF TO SUE - (below, left) Bloomed four days straight with 20 or more blooms open at one time.  And it rebloomed and was picture perfect every time.  If you can find it, grab it at whatever cost.  I sold out this year, even sold tiny single fans at the buyer's request just to get a piece of it in their gardens.  Its a stunner.

ALMOST ALL GREEN - (below right, from Tim's doctor-daughter, Heather) This beauty bloomed three sets of scapes, each one better-branched than the next.  Nothing greener in my garden.  In the morning, I swear it is actually neon-green.  Find it.   Someone with an established, exploratory pattern program needs to splash all over this one.  I'd buy that, you?  (Kimberly McCutcheon, Bob Faulkner, Mark Carpenter, Di DeCaire - you reading this?)

CHICKEN COOP MADONNA - What can I say about the below flower from Gene Tanner out of Browns Ferry Gardens?  I picked this one up on name alone at the 2014 National Convention auction and it has taken off.  Its first year in the garden and it performed like a champ!  This is the best first year plant ever.  Blooms that you just want to lick!  Agree?

WAYNE AND CORALS LOVE - (from the Nethertons and Peace On Earth Gardens in Georgia)   This is another I bought as a small DF in Asheville last year at National (after an intense bidding war that Mark Franklin graciously let me win) and its now 12-plus fans and rebloomed twice.  Its a spark of a different color and has good motion for a little thing.  I think Ill let my little clump grow through the 2016 season and I should be able to line it out and sell a good amount next fall.  Many have asked for it already, and I just couldn't bear to share it yet. It was the fastest multiplier in my collection.  It doubled its original planting size three times in one year.  Amazing.  I also plan to take it to a show next year to see how it stacks up in the mini section.

So many daylilies this season put on mouth-watering, delicious displays.  It was a strange, strange summer - filled with weather and wonder from start to finish.

Two large plant sales allowed me to cull out whole clumps of daylilies that have overstayed their welcome in my collection.  It was time for some of my "old" favorites to grace someone else's garden.  I was hired to do three residential plantings this summer and lifted over 50 10-fan-plus clumps out of my garden and planted straight into theirs.  It was fun to plop ready-made daylily awesomeness into someone else's yard.  I cant wait to hear their squeals next year for more.  When I was first starting out with daylilies, a previous national tour garden owner allowed me to come to her garden and choose whole clumps to jumpstart my budding collection.  She was moving far away and not taking the daylilies, so I had my pick of her near 1000 cultivars in 2002.  What a blessing that was!   This summer, it felt great to let others come and collect their gardens from my own yard!

There are so many stories to tell from Summer 2015.  I'm glad Fall is here so that my brain can settle and I can get some of them out here for you to enjoy.

Til next time - 
* Waldrop, 2004 - height 29in (74cm), bloom 6in (15.0cm), season EM, Rebloom, Semi-Evergreen, Tetraploid, Fragrant, 20 buds, 3 branches,  Cinnamon peach blend with ruffled gold edge above green throat. (Moon over Monteray × (Ed Brown × Tet. Dena Marie))

Thursday, July 16, 2015

DAYLILY HAIKU THURSDAY | How long is long enough?

<posted July 16, 2015> This is Richard Norris EMPIRE OF DESIRE.  If I could have only one sculpted daylily in my collection, it would be this one.  Google 'Ashwood Daylilies' to see his complete catalog- you wont be sorry.  Your wallet might be, but you wont.  I would recommend ASHWOOD DARK SIDE, IDA MAE NORRIS, REMEMBERED KISSES and MARDI GRAS BEADS.  That is a great start to a great collection of northern hardy reblooming daylilies!  Promise.

The daylilies are on their way toward Fall and I have not been disappointed at all.  What an amazing season!  The rain has been (too) plentiful, the sun has been hot on my shoulders, and the season has filled me with more inspiration that I have had in past years.  Intentional inspiration.  The kind that you act on and not stumble over.  I am loving it.


I've held on to this idea for a post for quite a while, and I when I saw it in my drafts today I thought it was a good time to pull it out and ask you the question. 

My friend Melodye Campbell wrote: "It's that time of year to give my daylilies a hard look. Poor branching and bud count? Not impressed with the bloom anymore? No bloom at all? Like many of you, my gardens have reached critical mass. My mantra of "one goes out if one comes in" is hard to stick to, especially when you get bonus plants with every order, bus plants at conventions, etc.
So, my question is, how long do you give a daylily to perform? Three years used to be my limit, but sometimes I let them go longer than that. For example, ROSE F. KENNEDY took 3 years to produce a scape, so I kept it. In it's 4th year, she took off and produced 4 scapes with lots of buds. I'm in love and glad I kept her another year. I try not to move the daylilies too much, I let them stay in the same spot for the 3 years. But come on, after 3 years, if the plant is still 2 fans, that doesn't bode well . . . ."

So, what do you think?  

How long do you hold on to the idea of what you think a daylily could or should do, until the reality of what it IS going to do sets in?  

The answer for me is 3 summers.  If something doesn't wow me, doesn't make me want to take a photo of it, doesn't make me walk over to see what its doing, doesn't perform near how it was advertised, it is outta here.  3 summers is fair.  

Most of the time natural selection kills off the weak and unnecessary here, and for that I am thankful.  LADY BLUE EYES died FIVE TIMES before I realized that I was never going to get to grow it and see what I still remember as the bluest thing I have ever seen in a garden.  I took this photo in 2003.  I remember it so vividly, that of over 10K photos on my computer I knew exactly which folder it was in without searching for it.

This was Twelve years and twelve cameras ago.  
I still remember Margo Reed was standing next to me when I saw the lone bloom in a national tour garden. I let out an audible gasp and she smiled knowingly and walked by.  We didnt know each other then, but we do now and that memory makes me smile.  I bought and killed this daylily five times before I finally decided it wasn't in my fate to possess it.  Big frown face, but I still have the memory.

I also just re-bought DUST AND GRAVITY for the third time.  That one seems to spend all its wad in a fabulous display and piddle out the next year.  I couldn't be without it after I culled out its dying remains this spring.  I love it so Ill gamble on it again.

Such is the life of a gardener.  One beautiful, maddening green gamble after another.

 Til next time, sink into the above photo of PICOTEE PRISM...ahhhhhh.

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