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?

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.  


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!


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.

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'