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?

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'

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.