Summer's freedom tastes so sweet. | Daylily Blog on Travels and Trials

Over the weekend, I travelled 1221 miles for daylilies.  Yep, I sure did.

I always try to make the most of every trip I take. Since I have been a child, road trips have meant packing your favorite things, piling in the car with snacks and cold drinks and setting off to see everything you can along the way. I love road trips in general (I have seen all 48 contiguous states by car) and doing them alone is sometimes extra-awesome.

I started out by making plans with my parents to take our son for a week's vacation – alone. It's his first "big boy vacation" by himself and they were thrilled at the thought of keeping him by themselves for a week. It was wonderfully strange to send him on his own, off on his first summer vacation at Nana's. He is becoming quite the young man. I feel so honored to witness the moments that will someday become the memories of his childhood summers. I hope I'm doing a good job building some great stories for him along the way. The last thing he said to me as they drove off in Papa's truck was "Have fun, mom!" Oh, you don’t have to worry about that, dear son.

Next stop: Chicagoland Daylily Society. I met Dixie and Gene and Dixie Sladek at a quaint little restaurant for dinner before the meeting. Several other very cool folks joined us despite the tornado warnings, 50 MPH winds and torrential rains. Dinner was complete with about 25 daylily blooms from my seedling beds. The food was good and the conversation was even better. 

A tray of my own seedlings, blooming 6/18/10...

At one point during dinner, I found myself and Greg Bartoshuk lecturing about 6 of the restaurant staff on daylily anatomy and hybridizing. It was a hoot and I got some great feedback on seedlings that no one but my immediate family has ever seen before. Pictured on the right below is my favorite seedling so far this year.  It's 7 scrump-dilly-icious inches.  Love it.
We headed off to the Community House for the actual meeting and got underway sharing my "2009 Daylily Experiences." I think everyone enjoyed my stories of my adventures last year. I wish I could have stayed longer after the talk, but they had a business meeting to attend to and I had another destination waiting for me…

Five hours and forty minutes south is Evansville, Indiana (points C to D on the map above.)  Saturday morning I was scheduled to be a judge at the SWIDS Daylily Show, so I planned on driving south until I got bored Friday night and then check into a hotel to drive the short remainder into Evansville on Saturday morning. However, Mother Nature had other plans.

The horrible weather around Chicago chased me down the western border of Indiana and ultimately got the best of me.  I have never seen it rain harder in my life. Big, pelting blankets of rain made it literally impossible to travel over 5mph (yes, 5) for more than an hour. No streetlights, no other cars, no houses or businesses for miles. The only outside light came from violent bursts of majestic lightening – giving me glimpses of the looming, woody landscape on either side of me.  Trees were downed across the road, branches were flying in front of my car, and all I could think about was getting swept away in an unseen flash flood in the middle of nowhere and there would be no one to find me for days. So, to calm my fears, I made the saintly OnStar representative stay on the car phone with me until she navigated me to a motel about 40 miles east - which was 40 miles in the wrong direction on my trip to Evansville. Leaving out most of the other gory, scary details – the evening ended just before midnight with a police escort, a scary motel with only one room left and an unexpected four-hour drive ahead of me in the morning.

And this is only day one of a three-day daylily adventure…

Saturday morning was a completely different universe than Friday night. The sun was bright and hot, even at 6:30am, and the skies were blue and beautiful. I wove my way south through Indiana on completely rural roads, and was surprised to find not one, but TWO daylily specialty farms along the way – "The Daylily Farm" on Indiana Rt. 114 and "Windig Ridge Daylilies" on I-63 south. How surprising and refreshing to pass by these bursts of familiar color! I wish I had the time to stop, but enjoyed the comfort of knowing there were other daylily fans in the area.

The show was a fun event.  Putting on a daylily show in perfect weather is a challenge, but SWIDS did it with much grace after the thunderstorms rattled and ruined many blooms that morning. 

Purple ribbon winning exhibits:  L-R  H. 'Green Spill,' H.Gloria Swanson,' and H. 'Swingin Miss'

Still, even with that challenge, they put on a nice show.  H. 'Janice Brown' took Best In Show and like every show I judge, exhibit in or attend, I learned quite a bit about exhibitors and exhibitions. 

Now on to point F on the map, and the final stop before my own bed - River Bend Gardens (Mike and Sandy Holmes) and Pretty Petals (Kimberly McCutcheon.)  I invited myself to their places on Saturday as a respite from my roading.  We had a wonderful time on Saturday night (thanks to blueberries, lemonade and a great dinner done by Sandy!)  Kim and I turned in early after some hilarious conversation (some daylily-related and some not!)...we both were victims of tough weekends and tired bodies.

Sunday morning, the sun rose on fields of beauty at River Bend.  Kim, Mike and Sandy are daylily hybridizers and they each have their individual focus and their own goals.  It is like visiting three gardens in one there!  I took hundreds of photos and have been drooling over them since Sunday night.  Their gardens are on the Northern Mecca tour over July 4th weekend.  I'll save most of my photos until after their tour...I dont want to let the cat out of the bag on what's going on there until the visitors soak it all up.  But here is Kim's H. 'Blushing Leopard.'  This photo was about noon and this is planted in full, hot sun.  I didnt see any melting at all.  The eyezone is amazing.  I'll be ordering this one from her at

It was a weekend filled with much adventure, great food and wonderful friends.  I saw daylilies in forms and colors I have never seen before at River Bend and Pretty Petals.  It was 1000 miles well spent. 
I wonder where the next adventure will take me...


Bev J. said...

Enjoyed your adventures! Great daylily photos-lots of pretties!


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