a Girl and her Garden

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

WELCOME!

"Who IS Nikki Schmith?" Find out using the links at the top right of this page!

Click on above links for more information...

...or read bout a 20-year obsession in the posts below!

a Girl and her Garden

filled with tales of digging daylilies and dishing the dirt!

Exclusive Introductions from Nikki Schmith

selected for distinction, show performance and garden value

Welcome to 'a Girl and her Garden'

Since 2009 I have been using this space to share my photographs, haiku and daylily adventures. I am so glad you are visiting today! Relax and enjoy your stay here. If your group is looking for a fun and informative seminar on daylilies- please email me for more information. My garden is also open to garden groups during peak season to come and enjoy over 500 unique hybrid daylilies integrated with other perennials - some seen no where else on the planet. I dig the daylily beacuse it is forgiving, surprising and beautifully brief. Why do YOU enjoy the daylily?

Friday, December 19, 2014

"Cast In Amber..." | Daylily Blog about Inspiration...

This is Missouri hybridizer Dave Niswonger's H. 'Gasping for Breath' blooming in my Illinois garden.
<posted December 18, 2014>  Are your tastes in daylilies rooted or related to the moment you fell in love with daylilies in general?  I definitely think mine are.  I gravitate toward full-petaled, polychrome or monochrome daylilies with heavy substance.  Those are my first choice if someone would ask what my taste in daylilies is.  I think I feel that way because the first hybrid daylilies that turned on the daylily light bulb for me had those characteristics.  25 years into this addiction, those types of daylilies still make my green heart sing.  

Apply that theory to books.  If you are an avid reader, you have a genre that you really enjoy.  Maybe its a guilty pleasure like romance or adventure, but whatever it is, it is likely so because when you first started to love reading, you read books in that genre whether by convenience, availability or recommendation of your parents/teachers/mentors.  I think the same can be applied to daylilies.  Your heart remembers the first time you fell in love and it will seek out that feeling at every opportunity.  

My first purchased hybrid daylilies included H. 'Golden Scroll,'  H. 'Tani' and H. 'By Myself,'  shown below blooming in my Illinois garden in 2014.  I still have the same plant I bought decades ago.  


The name H. 'By Myself' appealed to me and the time in my life when I bought it.  I was going through some early-20's angst when daylilies appeared in my life, so the names played a big part into their interpretation in my garden.  Not much has changed in my current garden.  The names are smoke signals to another time and place, and sometimes my heart aches to return there when I see them in the garden.  Its all good stuff - even if the memories aren't always happy ones.

It was also introduced the year I was born, which was a novel connection to me as a novice collector.  As I peeled the onion of this hobby more deeply, I learned that H. 'By Myself' was hybridized by Dr. Virginia Peck, a lady who has an entire chapter dedicated to her in A Passion for Daylilies.  This book is an absolute must-read for everyone who loves the people who love daylilies.    And it is an awesome travesty that its available used on Amazon for $0.63 plus shipping.  You should go buy 5 copies and gift them to your most rabid daylily friends.  Right now.  Click on the book picture below to do it.  You're welcome.

Reading about her attendance at the now-famous 1961 AHS National Convention where the Chicago powerhouse hybridizers were presenting their first strong findings on conversions. (Bless the hearts of those modern braggadocios who think they are the pioneers on conversions.  That was over 50 years ago, friends.) Van Sellers, recent Stout Silver Medal Winner, defines Dr. Virginia Peck as "not only the first, but THE major contributor to the tetraploid gene pool and the front-runner in every color."   That is so huge.  Most people don't know that the tetraploid revolution began in the Chicago-area, let alone one of its early champions was a woman.  Its.  Just.  Cool.  Stuff.  

She died in 1990, a few years before I would buy my first hybrid daylilies, and 20 years after her introduction of H. 'By Myself.'  
They called her a super mom of daylilies; a lady with a doctorate and a tiny, weather-worn face.  My favorite quote of hers shared in the book is, "I found out I couldn't do everything."  Amen, sister.  

The more I learn about the people who came before me in this community, the more I love both the flower and the people.  I often think, If I wrote a book like Sydney Eddison's today, what does someone 30 years in the AHS of the future need to know about the people in today's daylily community?  
What did we DO?  
Who did we inspire? 
What are we doing as a human collective that benchmarks OUR time in the daylily world?  
What does the table of contents of THAT book look like?

Those are deep thoughts to consider over a fire and some egg nog this holiday season, and Id love to hear what you came up with.  Please share!

Richard Norris' H. 'Remembered Kisses'
In the meantime, here are some fun daylily-related links you might enjoy:



Friday, November 21, 2014

DAYLILY Blog | What's making me happy this week? | Daylily Haiku Thursday


<posted November 20, 2014>  The daylily H. 'Spotted Fever' is a really neat one to have in the garden.  It always doubles and has a different face each time. Sometimes its more pink, sometimes darker - but always full and interesting.

Inspired by a regular feature of a favorite podcast, I thought I would share with you some things that are making me happy this week.

1.  The release of the new 'Illustrated Guide to Daylilies' released by the American Hemerocallis Society.  You can order it easily online here or by mail following the directions here.  As its description says, 
Written with the beginning gardener in mind, this is a completely new revision of an old classic, with up-to-date information about all things daylily.  Of particular value are chapters on how to obtain and select plants for growing in your area; when, where, and how to plant; how to prepare your garden, and how to care for your daylilies.   For the novice and the experienced gardener, it is a lavishly illustrated, full-color book, with superb photography submitted by nearly 100 members of the American Hemerocallis Society.  For the first time, there are complete chapters on the Stout Medal winners (1950-2014) and the Lenington All-American recipients (1970-2013), each of the Leningtons now illustrated with a beautiful photograph.  There are chapters dealing with daylily shows and the use of daylilies in arrangements; chapters on pests and diseases, as well as beneficial denizens of the garden.  There is information on how to hybridize and register daylilies, how to photograph them effectively, and how to make use of them as a culinary delight.  There is a brief chapter on companion plants, featuring many of the “Perennial Plants of the Year.”  Having opened with chapters on the history of the daylily, its foliage and flower, the book concludes with a detailed history of the American Hemerocallis Society, a glossary, a bibliography of daylily books, and a complete index.
It boasts 128 pages and 278 illustrations.  I cant wait for my copy to arrive.  I think these are some of the best educational, affordable outreach tools we have in AHS.   And, I might be biased because I was a contributor to the book, but dont let that influence your decision to pick some up for the holidays for your casual daylily-loving friends.

2.  The cool variety of videos about daylilies on YouTube.  Check out these results!  There are interesting videos on germinating and planting seed, some on cooking Daylily Fritters and others on dividing and planting.  Some (and by some I mean most) were not created by AHS members.  I wonder if these enthusiasts know about AHS?  This was a fun 10 minutes.

3.  Spontaneous emails from faraway friends.  Twice this week an email popped into my inbox from unexpected senders.  Both were full of quiet encouragement and happiness without even trying.  

4.  Receiving the engraved AHS Achievement Medal last weekend from Jim Cruise, chairman of the 2014 Central Illinois Daylily Society exhibition show. It was the only one awarded in Region 2 in 2014, and this region hosted the second largest number of daylily shows.  It is an interesting medal to seek, and I'd encourage hybridizers to enter this section of an accredited show.   
Having the medal in hand took me back to the hot heat of that July 5 day and the room filled with 'scent'uous daylilies on display.  Here's the back of the medal, showing the nice engraving done by AHS.  You can click on it to see it larger.

He's loved this flower since its maiden bloom, which he was the only one to see and takes great pride in retelling the story of the day he saw it open for the first time.  (I love both the flower and the story very much.)

If you've forgotten what the AHS Achievement Medal is, and want to read up on it to prepare your 2015 strategy for winning it, you can check out full information on it here

This is the entry that won the Achievement Medal.  It was registered as H. 'Beer and BBQ', as an homage to my favorite childhood tale involving my dad.  Its pod parent is Dan Bachman's H. 'Susan Ruoff.'  Cool dude, cool lady and cool flower.  Cool all around.  Yes, please.



As 2015 is just around the corner, NOW IS THE TIME to rally your local group around the idea of a public daylily display in the coming year.  Here is a link to a post I wrote about why daylily shows are important to hybridizers.  


(FUN FACT: In the center of this photo below is Dolores Bourisaw, the lady responsible for my addiction to hybrid daylilies!  She's the one second from the left.)


We had many first-time exhibitors that day, and I'm hoping they agree to put on a show again in 2015.  

So that's a bit of what's making me happy this week, friends.  What made you happy?

Til next time- 

Friday, November 7, 2014

DAYLILY Blog | This Fence on Daylily Haiku Thursday!


<posted November 6, 2014> So we paved paradise and put up a parking lot.  Actually, a fence. 

It's like what happens when you paint a room and get a bit on the ceiling.  No matter how hard you try, you always notice that one spot.

That one spot (about 20 of them, actually) was driving me crazy.  When the fence went up this week and I walked out in the garden, it was a totally different experience. I was focused on what was INSIDE the fence, not on what was OUTSIDE, and out of my control.  I like my neighbors a whole lot, but I've learned over the last three gardening summers that I like my privacy more. 



This fence puts a limit on my scope.  It gently says, "here are your boundaries - stay in here."  With the open plan of our subdivisions backyards, its easy to see/think that your backyard is the whole swath.  And my type-A vision sees that whole swath as "ours." No matter how fabulous my fraction of the swath is, I still notice  that broken broomstick in the above picture that I want to sneak over and yank out of the ground every time I step outside.  

Maddening.  

This fence changes the shape and the elevation of the gardens - at least my perception of it.  The beds seem taller, the plants seem closer to me, the grass seems greener and the hardscapes look more grand.  The installers got a kick out of all the plant markers; I chatted up daylilies, of course, noting there are now almost 80,000 registered varieties and how I show some of the plants I grow competitively.  At most, they were mildly entertained and very gracious.

There are two 5' gates on each side with self-closing hinges, which makes it very convenient to continue to host garden tours and for the dogs to discover their own backyard safely, without a leash.



Although I no longer can pretend imagine the community backyards are all mine, all of this makes a ton of sense on many levels.  These are my boundaries.  


It's kinda like a hug for my house.  It feels so good.

Til next time!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

What about getting back "in" the box? | Daylily Blog


<posted October 23, 2014>  This is a haiku featuring the daylily H. 'Happy Holidays To You' by Mike Holmes.  Mike and I share the same birthday and we share a similar extreme taste in daylilies.  His adorable wife Sandy is also a daylily hybridizer, and she will be speaking at the Greater St Louis Daylily Society banquet next month!  HOORAY!

I have been in two conversations this week where it was pointed out I might be thinking too far "outside the box."

Why do we have to think "outside the box?"

What if we aren't completely sure of what is "in" the box?

Aren't our skills better utilized perfecting the box, then what is in it, THEN work on what is outside of it?

What if the person who presented the notion that we are more courageous, productive, brave, creative if we are OUTSIDE of the box just couldn't figure out the box so they got out of it?  What if they just didn't understand how to function in the box?

<pours more chardonnay>

I obviously have more questions than answers today.

This weekend is the American Hemerocallis Society Fall Board Meeting and I'm traveling to Louisville, Kentucky to be a part of it.  I am the current Director for Region 2, so I must go and represent the near 2,000 AHS members in Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio.  Some of these folks are among my favorites in  all of daylilyland and I am so excited to see them!

Enjoy this Indian Summer, y'all!

N

Friday, October 17, 2014

Finding an Edge | Daylily Blog


<posted October 16, 2014>  This is H. 'Brookwood Apricot Nectar' from Leo Sharp.  This is a northern-born daylily that has some interesting structure in the center of the flower.  Seems the petals crimp and fold like a newborn Sharpei pup.  

Earlier this year, an editor asked me to help recommend only one registered daylily for someone interested in dabbing pollen for the first time.  My expertise here isn't because I've dabbed a ton of pollen, its because I've seen a ton of daylilies and study their simple intricacies. 

I told her I would first ask this new hybridizer: What daylily dreams are they trying to fulfill with their own line of seedlings?  What form or color sings to them? 

If one of their passions happened to be miniature daylilies I would be quick to recommend H. ‘Just for Breakfast.’  (Threewitts, 1994) height 22in, bloom 3in, season EM, Rebloom, Semi-Evergreen, Diploid, Fragrant,  Lemon yellow self with green throat. (Elva White Grow × Super Doll)  Havent heard of it?  

That’s the point of picking it as a plant to use in a new program.  

Seedlings from something practically unknown (nationally) will help get your program an edge.  After all, how many people can use the beautiful H. ‘Lavender Blue Baby’ or H. ‘Skinwalker’ or H. 'Rose F Kennedy' or H. ‘Northwind Dancer?’ 

This particular cultivar has proportionate scapes and branching, with consistently high bud count and clean foliage.  It has thick substance and glowing color.  Growers in Florida have enjoyed it for years and those of us who visited Orlando in 2009 were let in on many regional cultivar secrets.  H. ‘Just for Breakfast’ is a show winner, a garden-value convention award winner and one that so enamored a successful and very widely-known hybridizer he recently placed an order for 30 double fans of this plant for his own home’s landscaping.  He remarked if he had a mini-diploid program, this would be his stud.  I would recommend other of the Threewitts’ introductions, too.  I’ve noticed a few since Orlando, and they have all been distinct.

In my opinion, a successful daylily hybridizing program boils down to finding an edge – not a literal edge, but a difference – a distinction that would help your program contribute something new to the daylily universe.  In the white-collar world, the most successful businesses are those who identify a common problem or question and work tirelessly to provide a solution to it.  

A new daylily hybridizer should study what’s out there and find the hole.  

What’s missing?  

And then ask themselves, what can I do to fill it?

Friday, August 29, 2014

Crickets, katydids and croaking... | Daylily Blog about "this time of year."


<posted August 28, 2014>  ::   I feel my fingernails digging into the last days of Summer, begging for it to stay just a few more weeks.   The air is filled with crickets, katydids, croaking and face-melting humidity.  Gotta love the Midwest.


The swallowtails are everywhere.  That is one in the photo above, enjoying some of the 'Milk Shake' echinacea.  So many kinds of swallowtail and echinacea!  I never get bored.

The monarchs are finally here, too, feasting on the bronze fennel and butterfly weed that has taken over a large corner of an island.  Today I noticed one skinny caterpillar and one single chrysalis.  They flock around this planting in the morning, when the dew is still seen on the ferny black fennel fronds and then return again just before the night falls.  I am so glad to see them here as they evoke many memories for me, all of them colorful and happy.

The frogs and toads are plentiful, too.  Only two snake sightings this year - ew.  Hummingbirds are crazy- eating everything but the nectar from the feeders.  I keep it fresh, yet they do not eat from it; they prefer the butterfly bushes, climbing mandevillas and the cosmos.  Silly things.  They joust at the big blooms from the hardy mallow, but I never see them land.  So funny.  The best hummingbird happening this year was in early June when I was misting some hanging ferns.  There was a distance of maybe 20 feet of mist between me and the ferns.  After a few minutes one hummingbird flew into the mist and hovered.  Then another.  Then a third.  They flitted in and out of the mist, chirping and darting and freaking out my husband.  He was watching from the deck and couldn't believe their dance!   (he's gotta get out more.)

Did you hear that Joe Goudeau is back in the game with some great 2014 intros?  I finally got my hands on his GREEN EGGS AND HAM!  I have this 'thing' for Louisiana daylilies.  I am especially looking forward to WHIPPED CREAM AND STRAWBERRIES, which I just got at the R11 Summer Meeting.  

Here are two of his older ones that I just want to eat:

CHA CHING and BARE NECESSITIES from Joe Goudeau, growing in
my Illinois garden last summer.

I also forgot that I added PINK FREEZE last year, but the large clump that bloomed this year obviously didn't forget me.  Planted as three small fans last fall, its now 5 HUGE ones. Here it is blooming this year.


Nicole DeVito, the hybridizer of PINK FREEZE is coming to speak in St Louis on September 19.  Everyone is welcome to attend the presentation, followed by a short auction of her introductions and the clubs return plants.  

I also grow many of Nicole's other introductions. I added GOLDEN TICKET and LIKE A DREAM this year.  Maybe I'll grab more when she comes next month.  

I'm sure you remember how much I like her BULLETPROOF.


Daylilies are, as many testify, just as much about the people as they are the plant.  Seriously.  How many of you have ALL the introductions by certain hybridizers because you love the PERSON who introduced them?  The work is reflective and inclusive of the effort.  Even when I'm alone in my garden, I am surrounded by friends and memories; I want to make sure those memories are the ones worth remembering.

Here is an ugly people-story I could not NOT share.  Recently, I had a completely unnecessary and unkind exchange with a well-known auction seller. The first of its kind after LOTS of years on this fab site. When my purchase was complete (I held up my commitment to buy from them even after the terrible attitude) and their new introductions arrived, they promptly went in the trash.  

Yes, I know that doesn't hurt anyone but me and my wallet in the short term, but I made my own silent statement by doing so.  I couldn't stand to think of walking past those plants in the garden and remembering the mean-spirited exchange that happened during the transaction.  So I threw them out.  And then I didn't have a problem digging up and selling off the other plants introduced by said Nasty McNastypants.  Not my circus.  Not my monkeys.   

Til next time - be nice y'all.  It's suuuure easier. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

summer always ends where it starts | Daylily Blog

<posted August 20, 2014> 

Oh, good.  You’re here.  I thought maybe we had both forgotten where "here" was.  I am glad we didn't.

This summer was the best daylily summer ever – let’s just get that out of the way.  I have posted at least 100 blogs in my mind as the adventures unfolded, but just never connected brain to keyboard.  Almost 90 straight days of self-absorbed gardening, trying for the first time in years to spend more of summertime in my own garden than in others.  

I toyed with the chronology for my return to blogging, finally deciding to tell tales of what happened at the beginning of this growing season, working toward the end of summer as fall descends.  Nights are already getting longer, and the sunsets fall more quickly these days.  

70 long, sun kissed days ago, my official gardening season kicked off with the Oakland County Master Gardeners travelling by bus from Michigan to visit my Illinois garden.  It was a weird happening, really, since my daylily-centric garden had ZERO daylilies blooming when they visited on June 5.  But, the 60 of them thoroughly enjoyed the home cooked dinner and the informal lecture about daylilies.  People oozed everywhere in the garden, peeking here, leering there – asking, commenting, touching, smelling, smiling and laughing.  



Here's what things looked like before the bus showed up at 5pm.  


They bought plants, talked to my mom, met my local friends who were here to support me, and were entertained by my gentleman son.  My husband was even here, shaking hands and retelling stories he had heard me tell over the years.  (He really does listen.  Gush.)

When the people deboarded, I had iced cloths ready for them to use to "wipe off the ride." Since they had been on that bus all day, I thought it would be refreshing to clean their hands and face with a citrus-scented wet towel.  See it there by the bus door above?  

This is what it looked like up close.


Small touches of welcome are dotted throughout my garden; it is fairly small in size and so I try to make the most of every square inch.  I have to keep the visitors attention for the whole visit...


This has been my favorite spot to star gaze this year.  The lower patio is where the disco ball is, too, so you know there are always hi-jinks afoot in this area.  Remember, these photos are from June 5...seems like forever ago.




One of the visitors said, 

"I'm having such a great time.  It's like visiting a favorite far-away cousin's house I don't get to visit often enough."  

I thought that was very sweet.  It's how I felt, too.





Anyhoo, the summer always ends where it starts.  With anticipation, with plans, with intentions and hopefully with an iced wheelbarrow of beer - as seen above.  2014 was no different. 

I anticipated these visitors for over a year.  A charter bus of eager friends-to-be in my garden.  Having their visit planned for so early in the season, May was spent furiously polishing every aspect: pulling weeds, edging beds, laying mulch, potting containers, prepping water features…the stuff you would normally do over the course of a season was done almost before the first scape stretched toward the sky.  Looking back on it now, the few all-nighters and countless gallons of sweat were a cheap price to pay for being really ready for the season so early.  But, we will get to the rest of the season later…

I read somewhere that summer always folds in on itself; its end in its beginning.  I am happy to be ready to enjoy the beginning again.

Til next time - here is Daylily Haiku Thursday a bit early this week.  

You can also connect with me on Facebook here for more frequent tales from the dirt.