a Girl and her Garden

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


"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?

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

To the man who is actually in the arena... | Daylily Blog

<posted April 29, 2014>  This is H. 'Ida Mae Norris.'  This is my favorite cultivar of Richard Norris' to date.  I grow and enjoy several now and have had even more over the years that I have traded, sold or given away to friends as tastes and space evolved.  I also love his H. 'Ashwood Dark Side' and H. 'Plane Geometry,' but this one takes the cake.  First, it is 7"+, matte and flat as a pancake.  Although flat and matte, it also has a supple texture that grabs my attention.  I'm surprised to see he still has some for sale on his website.

Here are two other pinkies I like.  First is H. 'Rose Colored Glasses':

And the second (below) is H. 'Small World Looney Tunes' from Michael Miller.  It's the first introduction of his I bought directly from him and I'm very pleased with its performance.  Looking forward to taking it to a show this summer to see what it can do here in region 2.  This one also has a very funky pattern in the morning - and pretty consistently.  It is also a fast increaser in my Illinois garden.

I've been buried under some wonderful projects lately with people from many different areas of my life.  I had some big school projects at my son's school, some home improvement projects, some large-scale garden tour plans, daylily club projects and some big writing projects, too.  Dealing with these simultaneous projects has been delicate.  I am working with people who aren't so easy to work with in situations that aren't easy with the best of teams.  Some of the teams were so high performing we never convened as a group and the event went off without a hitch.  I haven't much liked the last 60 days of hard brain work, but I did lean on some writings of people way smarter than me at some of my most frustrated moments.  Theodore Roosevelt is one of my favorite politician, soldier and outdoors man. I've shared this story before, but its a good time to share it again.

He presented a speech entitled "Citizenship in a Republic" at the Sorbonne in 1910, two years after Henry Ford rolled the first Model T out of Detroit.  In my office at Ford Motor Company World HQ, there is a photo of Mr. Ford and Mr. Roosevelt, riding in a Model T on the slender streets of Dearborn.  The photo gives me goosebumps to see such "movement and thought" sharing a ride together.  The speech from the Sorbonne brings an overwhelming sense of personal call to action every time I read it.  Here is an excerpt, and I hope you find some strength in it, too.  It's pretty fierce, IMHO.

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. THE CREDIT BELONGS TO THE MAN WHO IS ACTUALLY IN THE ARENA, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, IF HE FAILS, AT LEAST FAILS WHILE DARING GREATLY so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."

It is the season of doing in our gardens and in our communities as they come to life with Spring.  

If not YOU, who?

H. 'Brookwood Hiawatha'

Thursday, April 17, 2014

DAYLILY DEFINE: "Oh, my eye!" | Daylily Blog on Definitions

<posted April 17, 2014>  This week's haiku highlights the daylily CAJUN LAGNIAPPE, a 2009 introduction from Ken Begnaud of Louisiana.  This photo was taken in his garden during the 2011 National Convention tour!  I especially love the clean-colored base of this flower, and the metallic edge just sets it off perfectly.  I dont grow this one in Illinois, but it is on the wishlist.

Usually when I do a haiku, to select a photo I randomly scroll through my photos and let them speak to me.  But this time I was looking for a specific kind of photo to go along with a topic I wanted to mention.  

During a recent presentation, the speaker described their flower using the term "banded eye."  I was confused.  The definitions as I know them do not allow for such an occurrence.  If I were judging a show and a flower was entered with "banded eye" in its registration data, I wouldn't know what I was looking for...

As a garden judge and as an exhibition judge, its important for me to understand and internalize how the American Hemerocallis Society (the "industry standard" if you will for daylilies) defines characteristics and forms.  The AHS defines markings on daylilies and most of the common vocabulary is seen in the Daylily Dictionary.  In the photo above, note the purple markings around the center of the flower.  By definition, this is a BAND.  Not an eye.  I'm going to bet most of you would call that an eye.  I would have until I studied the distinction between the terms.

If you interchange the terms EYE, BAND, HALO and WATERMARK - don't.  They are not interchangeable and do not indicate the same traits.   I have learned to remember them in the order of how much color is exhibited on the flower.  An eye is the "most color", followed by Band with less color, then halo with even less color, and finally watermark.

An eye is a DARKER colored zone on the petals AND sepals of the flower just above the throat. 

HATS OFF TO SUE (Herrington, T. 2008) exhibited by Claude Carpenter at a 2013 Atlanta-area accredited daylily show.  
This flower shows an eye.  Note the darker color appears on the petals and sepals.

Eye and band are related terms, but with a distinct difference.

If the DARK color ONLY appears on the petals, it is called a band.

OKLAHOMA SAND BURR (Holley-S., 2009) shows a band at the same Atlanta-area show.
Note the darker color does not show on the sepals.

Even less so, a halo is an eye that is relatively narrow or indistinct.  You can see in the below picture that your eye registers an area of color above the throat, but it is not distinct.  It is faint, but it is there.

EDGED IN INK at a show in Michigan.

Finally, a watermark is the zone above the flower's throat which is LIGHTER in color than the petal color.

Bill Waldrop's winning seedling entry at the Atlanta-area show.  Note the lighter color that appears between the glowing yellow throat and the petal edges.  
This area is a watermark by definition.

These are just some examples, and obviously with almost 80,000 registered daylilies and millions of seedlings under evaluation each year, interpretations of these definitions are being challenged and further studied.  I enjoy knowing the differences based on established vocabulary.  The daylily community, most effectively, hybridizers of daylilies have been inventing words for decades to describe what they see in their seedling fields.  Dan Hansen of Ladybug Daylilies reinforced that fact during a recent presentation in Nashville.

If you are passionate about the daylily like I am, it is important to start from a base set of vocabulary.  This I know: the words we use to describe what we see in daylilies today will evolve over time, as we do.  I enjoy knowing as much about the intricacies as I can.  The depth is fun.

What do you think?  Do you accept established term definition, or do you prefer to verbally define as your heart/eye sees it?

SPECIAL NOTE:  I am presenting a special video-enhanced program in the "Monday Night Lights" Daylily Facebook group THIS MONDAY at 730/630C. Come join the group and enjoy the weekly presentations given by daylily people of all interests.  Click here to join! 


Thursday, March 13, 2014

8 Things You Should Do In Your Daylily Garden NOW!

Above is Martin Kamensky's H. 'Picotee Magic.'  The saturation of pink at the edges of these petals really gets my heart racing.  The midribs are so white.  And so carved.  Its not a surprise that this one is a former Englerth Winner in Region 2.

Below is Karol Emmerich's H. 'Woman at the Well.'  I still remember the first time I saw this flower in a slide show many years ago.  SO DISTINCT!  SUCH MOVEMENT!  The shading and gradient of color in the throat gives the bloom such depth.  I just love it, Karol!  Have you seen Karol's website lately? Here were her 2013 intros.  WOW.

1.  Replace plant markers.  I just bought these to replace many that are now too short in the garden and to make new ones for this year's additions.  I love these plant markers and I still use the Avery 5660 labels in my LASER printer to make for great identification of the daylilies.

2.  Jot down two things you always wish you would have done early in the Spring.  Make it a priority to do those things as soon as you can get outside.  These tasks quite often do not get done because they aren't the most fun ones to do.  So, make a commitment that you will do those most unpleasant, but quick tasks first so you aren't kicking yourself later in the season.  Remember THIS IS THE YEAR OF JOY.  Little and big joy.  

3.  Think about those waning days of Fall, where you find yourself reflecting in the garden about what "could have been."  What is the one goal you want your garden to meet this year?  Is it to get all your roses pruned just right?  Do you always wish you would have shared more or culled more or taken more photographs or invited more people over to enjoy your daylilies?  Consider that your BIG GOAL this year.  Be conscious not to let this garden season pass with any regrets.  My big goal is to significantly bolster the butterfly-beneficial plants in my garden, and find ones that play well with the daylilies.  I also want to add more fragrance to the garden.  Those are two goals Ill be working toward this year.

4.  Pick out some daylilies from your collection to donate as door prizes for guests or new members at your next local club meeting.  Pick out two or three GOOD ONES and just unexpectedly show up with them at the first spring meeting.  You can certainly use to cull a few and there are certainly some new growers who will not forget your hospitality.  I dig clumps very early int he spring and plant 1-gallon pots.  By the time a plant sale rolls around in late June, these pots have healthy, probably-scaping fans that sell themselves.

5.  Plant a miniature garden that reflects your other hobbies.  This will be a great addition to your garden outside when the weather breaks.  I did one with a Halloween theme that I might keep up all year round now!  I also have a Birthday Party garden, and one that is overrun with Smurfs and vintage Smurf mushroom houses!

6.  Update your databases and garden maps.  I'm still using PlantStep and I cant say enough amazing things about what it does for my enjoyment of the daylilies in my garden.  Read this past post where I gushed on it...

7.  Write some thank you notes.  Not emails.  Not Facebook messages.  Get out an ink pen and use your cursive skills to thank some of your daylily friends for their support, their creations, their efforts or for just being who they are.   You might even write a note to a hybridizer you don't know personally, but you admire their daylilies.  Drop them a line to tell them you appreciate what they do.  Send some hand-written happiness to your local club president or neighborhood kid that cuts your grass in the summer. Make the mailbox a happy place for some unsuspecting daylily friends or fans today.

8.  Join a new Facebook group called "Monday Night Lights."  Daylily enthusiasts from all over the world come together on Monday nights at 7PM (eastern standard time) to enjoy a live presentation by a daylily-specific person.  Each night features two, sometimes three presenters.  It is an innovative use of Facebook I just ADORE and its worth checking it out.  (P.S. I am scheduled to present on April 21.)

And a bonus something-to-do-when-you-should-be-doing-something-else, Revisit these fun posts from my archives:

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

What brought me JOY in 2013 | Daylily Blog

An adorable friend posed a question on a daylily-centric email robin today. She asked, 

"What brought you JOY in your daylily garden last season?"

I thought this was such a fun question and it made my brain feel good to think about it.  This is H. 'Carolina Pink Pinwheel' by Gene Tanner at Browns Ferry Gardens.  It was certainly one of my first thoughts when I thought about joy.

This topic is right on time, Kathleen.  (who, if you don’t know her, EXUDES joy!)  See her gardens here.

The most-influential daylily that comes to mind when I think of 2013 summer joy is GOD SAVE THE QUEEN from Mort Morss.  So much going on in that daylily.  It is so photogenic and puts on a display like no other modern cultivar that I grow.  

Some days I would just walk by the clump and shake my head at its awesomeness.  The height, the color saturation, the teeth, the eyezone, the size of the bloom, the strength of the scape.  Man.  LOTS of positives.

The near-equal runner up for materializing my summer joy is TRUFFLES MILANESE by David Kirchhoff.  Insane substance, enormous bloom size, color tone, fragrance...super joy!  Here it is:

I have mentioned this daylily about a bazillion times since it bloomed last July.  I just counted 24 "keeper" photos of it in my 2014 files.  If you don’t think you like doubles, or don’t have one of David's modern truffles - invest in this one. It adds a dimension to the garden that most other doubles don’t.  It is clearly a double and makes no apologies for its "extra."  It was 100% double, with more buds than advertised.

The extra joy in these two cultivars is that they are both dependable. Consistent.  None of that waiting for a good hair day kind of stuff that so often comes with new and hyped daylilies.  You know what I mean, right? The new cultivar you buy that has 8 buds and 6 of those open marred somehow and you just happen to be at regional the two days it blooms nicely?  

Yeah, those.  Ahem.

I don’t have that problem with these two cultivars.  Every day (and lots of them) the blooms and bouquet are amazing.

Here are some of my Honorable Mentions:

H. 'Godiva Jam' by Judith Weston

H. 'Margo Reed Indeed' by Jim Murphy

H. 'Dragon Fang' by Jamie Gossard

H. 'Balloons Rising by Megan Skinner

These are daylilies that brought me joy in my 2013 season.  They are shining examples in a large collection of also-awesome daylily specimens.  Thank you to all the hybridizers who strive to bring JOY to the world.  You can bet the flowers you produce all have a little piece of you in them!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Action vs. Spectacle | Daylily Blog

Action = emotional reaction.  something you can see/feel. the fact or process of doing something, typically to achieve an aim.

Spectacle = intellectual reaction. no change in tone. a visually striking performance or display. 

Each year thousands upon thousands upon hundreds of thousands of new daylily seedlings are bloomed around the world.  I believe "action" determines if these daylilies will be successful and lasting in today's collectors gardens.

Whatever the bloom shows me, it has to spark an internal narrative to prove distinction.  What does it DO?  What does it make me remember, or smell, or see, or even taste?  What emotion does it evoke? Do I inhale abruptly when I see them or do I raise my eyebrows with interest?

There are plenty of beautiful daylilies that are just that.  Beautiful.  

They don't move me; I am simply pleased in passing by their presence in the garden.  If my visit to a garden full of spectacle were reading like a heart monitor, the printout would look "normal."  No high (or low) spikes in emotion. 

I need more than that.

Where are the moments of action in your daylily collection?  

Where are the daylilies that DO something for the onlooker?

This post was inspired by a conversation I had with someone at this event shown here:

This is the 2011 Summer Meeting for AHS Region 2, held in Troy, Michigan.  

We coordinated an off-scape show during the opening day of the event and invited all our travelling guests, and local club members to bring in their blooms.  The result was HUNDREDS of blooms in the hotel hallway that captivated the attention of all our visitors. 

We used ACTION and SPECTACLE to make this a successful event.  The mass display (length and width) of daylilies brought the spectacle.  The spectacle was the "Wow.  That is a boatload of flowers.  Wow."  Some folks cant get past this level of interaction.  That is where they stop.  The spectacle is how we draw new daylily lovers in to the black hole of daylilydom.  

The ACTION came in though the organization of the show.  By displaying flowers by like color and/or form, viewers are able to connect with the display on a more personal level.  They find themselves drawn to highly-saturated blooms, or extra large blooms, or miniature flowers, or heavy-substanced faces...whatever makes their heart sing.  Remember this post?   

There is no better way to determine what type of daylily-lover you are than by attending a daylily show.  On July 6, 2014, there will be an accredited Daylily Exhibition Show in Springfield, Illinois at Washington Park Botanical Gardens.  Mark your calendar right now.  It's the state capitol, tons of stuff to do and totally centrally located by highway from a lot of cities around our region.  More details coming later.  You can also check here for other shows across the country. That page will be updated as shows are officially scheduled for 2014.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Daylily Blog | 5 Deadly Daylily Sins

<posted January 23, 2014>  This is the daylily, H. 'Blonde On The Inside.'  It was created by a hybridizer in South Carolina named Heidi Douglas of Browns Ferry Gardens.  This is a fairly new introduction and has only been in my collection for one full year.  One of the "extras" I love about Heidi's daylilies is dreaming up my own stories about where she gets the names she uses.  

Here we are touring some gardens in southern Ohio last summer.  Heidi is on the far right of the photo (Mandy McMahon from Silver Creek Daylilies is above me and Kimberly McCutcheon of Pretty Petals is on the left of the photo.)

Spring seems so far away looking at our sun kissed faces in this photo.  

Sigh.  These ladies are part of my gardening tribe.  I love them so.

Anyhoo, I assume you are a daylily fan of some sort if you have read this far.  
Your collection expands and contracts like a smooth breath and your winter dreams of dirty adventures in your garden are stirring your cabin fever.

You are crawling the internet looking at new introductions and new sales.  You are checking off your wish list from 2013, and vowing to not add to it in 2014.  
You're getting weak.  Your wallet is getting lighter.  Your dream board for your garden is getting full and the plans get more grand as the snow piles up outside.  Your Pinterest garden-related boards are overflowing with awesomeness.

Although gardening and playing in the dirt is therapeutic and not meant to be stress inducing, it sometimes is for the specialized gardener.  

Burnout happens quickly.  

Resentment creeps in (and so do weeds.)  

You look for the nearest place to hide and what used to be your greatest passion becomes your latest bane.  (I think you could apply this overwhelming sense of "do" to anything really - parenting, scrap-booking, stamp collecting, live-action role-playing....)

Maybe if you keep in mind the following 5 Deadly Daylily Sins (that I just made up) as your cabin fever reaches its' peak, your Spring can start off not feeling so "behind."

1.  Forgetting that daylilies are FUN.   You got into daylilies because you had an emotional reaction to some aspect of them - hybridizing, collecting, photographing, exhibiting, etc.  Ask yourself if you are having fun.  Answer yourself honestly and if your answer is "no," take out a sheet of paper and write some reasons you are not having fun.  Local club politics?  Cost?  Lack of inspiration?  Too much work?

2.  Being unrealistic about your time and space.  As much as you (and I) would like to, you cannot have them all.  There are almost 80,000 registered hybrids and hundreds of people hybridizing for new ones each year.  Not recognizing and accepting your own limitations (personal and spatial) will greatly reduce your fun quotient.  (see sin #1.)  How many can you properly care for?  A collection of 200 well-cared for and well-grown specimens will speak more loudly than 600 struggling fans.  Repeat after me:  "I am not a daylily hoarder.  I am not a daylily hoarder."

3.  Ignoring the BIG PICTURE of your garden. I like Google Earth.  I can zoom in and zoom out using satellite images of our planet.  Here is my neighborhood in Worden, Illinois - a village of just 900.

In my mind, I try to have this birds' eye view of my garden.  And then I zoom in a bit.  And then zoom in a bit more.  And a bit more.  What am I noticing as I get closer?  Are all the plants basically the same height?  Do most of them carry the same "weight?"  Are there differing textures?  Varying planes of sight?  What does the whole say of its pieces?  Is the garden a beautiful sum of its parts, or is it canvas without focus?  If the garden does not have diversity it has to work a bit harder to make your heart sing.  (see sin #1.)

4.  Resisting change.  Change in our bodies, change in our interests, change in our gardening friends, changes in the environment, change in our hearts.  

Your garden is a growing, living tapestry of your life - as it is and as it has been.  If you're frustrated about what your garden IS, do not be afraid to change it.  (see sin #1)

Personal example: I worked hard to sculpt and plant the raised beds in my new garden in Illinois.  See the below pic for one of the island beds.  After a season of visitors and caring for this garden, it was clear that this bed really needed to have a path through it.  For two seasons, I cussed the fact that in order to navigate the garden I had to walk around the large island, but I was resistant to dig out the plants necessary to create the convenience.  

This is the island in mid-June last year.

Finally, last fall in an act of defiance and frustration at other things in my gardening life, I just started digging out the plants to make way for the path. 

Up came clumps of established daylilies, echinacea, sedum, veronica, lamb's ear!  I potted up all but one clump of those daylilies and passed it all on to other gardeners.  It was a big deal, since some of those plants were awesome show-winners and it was a very photogenic planting.  But that is what it was.  And although it didn't really neeeeed to be changed, something nagged at my view every time I saw that area of the garden despite how much I liked the plants in the area.

Long story short - listen to the twinkling garden-fairy voices in your head.  It's liberating to simply accept what the garden WAS, WHAT IT IS and now to allow it to be WHAT IT CAN BE.

5.  Obsessing about the wrong things.  Briefly, anything that does not bring you happiness is the wrong thing.  A really smart lady once said, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."  The choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility and if you are choosing to allow envy, gluttony and nasty vibes in your garden, well, you reap what you sow.  This I know.

I hope these little life lessons I've learned in the garden can help you enjoy your garden more.  Sometimes it is hard to love our limitations.  But it sure is more fun when you can take yourself and your garden less seriously and allow yourself to have a bit of fun.

Try it!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Pictures OF something or Pictures ABOUT something... | Daylily Blog

<posted January 9, 2014> This is the daylily H. 'Brookwood Wow.'  I've posted so many pictures of it and talked about it so much over the years I hesitated to use it in today's haiku, but the stark white of its petals reminded me of the blinding polar vortex snow outside.  (polar vortex? Really?!?!)

I saw this above photo in my files and knew I had to use it to talk about a concept I'm exploring in my garden photography.  I've been pondering that there is a distinct difference in taking a picture OF something versus taking a picture ABOUT something.

If I take a picture OF something, its simply documenting its existence in that moment.  

Here is a picture I think is a picture OF the daylily, H. 'Special Candy.'

Now here is a picture that is ABOUT the daylily, H. 'Special Candy.'

Those are two very different photos of the same plant on the same day with the same camera and photographer.  The first photo was taken later in the afternoon; the second one was taken first thing in the morning, while the dew was still undisturbed.  Look how the pollen sacs are still closed tight in the morning and in the afternoon they are full and fluffy.

While the first photo captures the basic details of this daylily, shows its basic shape, coloration and positioning, that's about all it does.  I don't FEEL anything when I look at that first photo.

BUT, when I see the second photo, my eyebrows raise a bit.  The corners of my mouth turn up as my eye follows the deep plum edge and falls into that green throat.  This photo is ABOUT H. 'Special Candy.'

Setting up a photo ABOUT something takes a little practice.  Here are some of my personal thoughts on taking pictures that evoke emotion:
  • See the photo through your viewfinder or on your LCD screen as you would be looking at the photo.
  • MOVE AROUND when taking the photos.  Crouch.  Bend.  Look up.  Stoop.  Lean.  Repeat.
  • Find one focal point when you are setting up the photo.  Move your eye out from that focal point and try to keep out distracting background stuff that takes your eye away from that focal point.  

    In this photo above, what do you think my focal point was?  Yep!  The green throat.  

    Now look at the top photo. Where is the focal point?  Don't try too hard. There isn't one.  That's part of what makes this top photo just a photo OF H. 'Special Candy' and not really ABOUT it.

Granted, if you are on a garden tour and have about 30 minutes to see 8 acres of gardens, you aren't writing a mental dissertation setting up each photo. 

You're walking and clicking and talking and eating and gasping and clicking. 

You don't have time to think through every shot.  On last years regional tour of 6 gardens, I took almost 600 photos.  That's quick shooting.  You have to get in a rhythm of knowing what kind of picture you want to look at.  FIND A FOCAL POINT before you push that shutter. If nothing speaks to you in the photo as a focal point, why are you taking the photo?

Here are two more examples.  The first photo is a nice shot of the many scapes on the edge of one of my island beds.  Lots of buds, a splash of dark in the middle, but it doesn't really SAY anything.  It's a picture OF scapes.

Now, THIS photo is also of the edge of one of the island beds.  Notice right away the bloom of H. 'God Save The Queen' staring at you from the photo.  

Even if you don't know what H. 'God Save The Queen' is, because I told you it was the focal point of the photo below, you now know for sure!

That photo is ABOUT scapes and the presence of one particular daylily - not just OF a bunch of scapes.

You have to get quick about setting up photos to get the maximum raw image.  This method eats up battery in my camera because I work solely with the LCD screen, but I don't mind.  Most of the shots I take are usable and worthy of keeping since I use a quick mental focus to shoot them.

Photography is one of my favorite facets of my daylily collection.  Capturing intricacies, exposing inherent awesomeness, and creating a library of garden memories for a digital lifetime!

Til next time -