Most of the time I feel like I'm on the cusp of a particularly spectacular nervous breakdown. You know, the kind where you sit rocking back and forth on the cold bathroom floor, crying over the five extra minutes it took to peel potatoes?
Yes, that kind of spectacular.
It just hasn't been a great week for my insides- I'm feeling overwhelmed with autumns tasks, lamenting over some huge events in 2011 and generally feeling alone and sad. Woe is me. (insert collective sigh here.)
Last Friday was Grandparents Mass at my son's school, and since his grandparents are all at least 500 miles away, and ours are all passed on, my husband and I went to mass and represented our past generations for our son. Thoughts naturally drifted to my grandmother, Elizabeth (Lizzie, to her friends) - a Polish lady of great church stature, with a quiet voice and loud, kind laughter that could stop a clock. She died at 53 - way too young - just after my ninth birthday. This photo was taken by her of me in her backyard in 1977.
Those marigolds behind me still haunt my senses; I'm teleported to this exact photo - this moment - everytime the sour odor of marigolds floats by me. This was my first garden - the place where I smooshed dandelions in my palm, ate sour clover, rode a go-cart for the first time, stepped on way too many stinging bees and chewed on honeysuckle vine. It's where her old, cranky poodle growled at me from across the yard, daring me to come any closer to him so he could bite me again. It's also where I was when I learned she died.
We never gardened together, but today I never garden without her. I hear her voice and feel her soft skin on the warm breeze of autumn. She's still yelling at me for bending tall scapes of Hemerocallis Fulva down to my level - you can read more on this here.Last Friday, on the way to work after the morning mass, I found her in my thoughts more than usual.
"I'm doing it." I told her. I'm raising my son, sending him to a really good Catholic school, tending to my husband, making our home fabulous, voraciously sharing my love of dirt with others and caring for my aging parents from afar. I think she is proud that I leave my corporate office and spend my lunch time working the lunchroom of my son's school - a job that she held full-time at the parochial school my mother attended as a child. Quite often my grandmother would take me with her for her lunch duties, and I would spend hours in the kitchen, underfoot of many smock-adorned lunchladies who treated me like their own.
"I'm doing it," I repeated. I hope you are, too.
Gardening forms the strangest - and strongest - bonds. Reach out today to your kindred gardening spirit, because so much more grows in the garden than the gardener sows...
The end is here. Fitting that I'm wrapping up this series during the first week of autumn; as the season winds down, so does this series.Of course I'm choosing to end this run with three of my favorite pinks from 2010. This year I made leaps and bounds in my gardening therapy - finally admitting that pink was my favorite color in daylilies. I love pink. You can read more about that here, if you want to read more on pink.
On the left here is a mystery bug...do you know what it is? Click "Email Author" below to let me know what in the world it is. They are fascinating little pieces of art, but I'm not sure if they are beneficial or not...help! Anyhoo, on with the unveiling of the last choices:
H. 'Hearts and Flowers' is a joy. It's firm and bright and clear and tall. The pinks are real pink and the yellow/green is striking. I have grown this one since 2002, when I received it as a gift plant on the bus during the AHS National Convention.
I had admired this pink on the Daylily World website, but at that time couldn't afford to add it to my collection (I couldn't fathom spending $100 on a daylily- oh, how I wish I felt that way nowadays...) It hasnt been a super-fast increaser, but it does add a new fan or two each year and blooms profusely- just look at those pics! A bonus is the polymerous characteristics it exhibits in the garden, shown in the picture on the right. That's AWESOMENESS. This one is not only a favorite this year, but it has been a favorite for many years. David Kirchhoff is an incredibly gifted daylily hybridizer. If you have never seen the Daylily World website, please do yourself a favor. He is a legend in the daylily community and his contributions (both professional and personal) will have a lasting legacy.
H. 'Pick of the Litter' (seen on the right) is a flirty little thing that I first saw on display in Long Island, New York. I noticed it while judging a daylily show there and lusted after it for a year before ordering it directly from its hybridizer, Charles Douglas of Browns Ferry Gardens. This workhorse plant (at least) doubles in size every year. It has this wonderful quality of being two daylilies. It shows one face in the morning and another one after glistening in the sun all day, and I love both faces. It is a wonderful shade of gray-pink, showing undertones of blue and clear white. I would recommend this one for the front of the bed, somewhere you can enjoy its subtleties.
Okay, just one more before I close this series...
H. 'Morningcloud Marmalade' is one of the coolest daylilies you might never have heard of. It is hybridized by Michigan's own Greg Schindler. I love this one because it is just starting to bloom once everything else is winding down. It's a breath of fresh, pink-edged air in the garden at this time of year. The base color is truly this white and the edge is truly this pink- what a contrast! This beauty is tall, textured and BIG! Greg is also the hybridizer of what is likely my most favorite daylily - H. 'Matchless Fire.' Take my word for it - you need both of these.Thanks for following this ten-post series on my 2010 Favorite Blooms. I enjoyed growing all of these in my daylily collection and plan to keep all of them for 2011.
It will be interesting to see what tickles my fancy next year...I wonder if any of these will make the list again... ;)
This is Stamile's H. 'Boundless Beauty,' opening perfect on a cool September morning. This was just the sight I needed on this first day of fall. She won't give up. She won't stop showing off. I love it. This bloom measured 7.5" and opened without any hang-ups, which quite often happens with these fancy-edged beauties here in Michigan. The substance is just delicious. I still have four buds left on this daylily and plan on relishing those last four flowers of the season. Oh, and did I mention that this daylily is also on its THIRD set of rebloom scapes?
This daylily was introduced this year by the incomparable Dan Hansen of Ladybug Daylilies. During the AHS National Convention in 2009, this seedling stopped me in my tracks while touring his garden. Now, remember, on a tour of daylily-related gardens, you see thousands and thousands of daylilies and for a seedling to stand out in the crowd as one of the coolest things I saw on tour, well, that speaks volumes. I took a dozen photos of it that day. When I placed my mail order for daylilies from Dan that year, I included a good photo of it and told him of my admiration. Much to my surprise, Dan sent me a piece of it to try in Michigan. I planted it in the front beds, where it would get the best sun. I didnt treat it any differently than I do my other daylilies; if it is going to live here, it has to do so on its own merits. H. 'Michigan Nikki' did way more than just live, it thrived and bloomed its head off in 2010. Visitors commented on it, a few offered to buy it (not for sale yet!) and most all took many photos. The photos of it here in this blog are taken by me, in my Michigan garden this summer. I was so proud that I picked something out of thousands of seedlings that so many noticed and more importantly- liked. You can see more of H. ' Michigan Nikki' here on Dan's website.
Dan called me late this summer to say he was going to introduce it and wanted my help naming it.
SHUT THE FRONT DOOR!
Even though I have never introduced my own daylilies, I have pages of names that I think would be cool names. I always note song lyrics, or book titles or phrases my friends say as possible future daylily names. So, I gave Dan some of my favorites and he gave me a lesson (or two) in naming daylilies. He finally settled on his own suggestion of H. 'Michigan Nikki' and I loved the idea.
You can buy it directly from Dan if you are interested in adding it to your collection. That strawberry colored eye, size and frilly-dilly edge will certainly entice several buyers this fall. I wouldnt wait until spring to buy...especially with the special he's running. You can buy 10 of his newest introductions for a really good price - that's unheard of, and once you see the selection, I think you will find a few wonderful things. Dan also has some awesome videos on his site on interesting topics.
I like daylilies that are unlike anything else. I liked this one because it was long and stretched out with a wonderful, bubbling edge. These types of edges you dont see on longer, close-to-unusual-form daylilies. Lots of hybridizing possibilities in this one. I love its size and cannot wait to see it compete in the Extra Large section of an exhibition show.
The lesson I learned with this one is to trust my own eye. I saw it, I liked it, and I followed up on it. I have confidence in my own internal gauge of what is beautiful and what is inspiring. Rarely do the year of introduction or the hybridizer's fame influence what daylilies I add to my collection. Building confidence started with me making the conscious choice to stop listening to what "everyone else" was telling me was beautiful and started listening to the thumping in my chest when I see particular plants. That thumping is in each of us...my hope for all of you is that it's loud enough for you to hear.
H. 'Michigan Nikki' is fabulous, unique and offers something new to the daylily community. Exactly how I like to think of myself. Thanks, Dan!
Winding down this series of Favorite Blooms in my own garden this year has been tough. I don't want to put a cap on it. I don't want to give up summer. I don't want to only list two more favorites! But, here is number nine on my top ten favorite blooms in my 2010 Michigan garden- it's H. 'Calico Print.' This is a very hard to find double beauty from Kropf. I waited a few years to get a piece from my friend Nicole, and she has a very long wait list for it. I'm not sure what I had to trade her for it, but it was worth whatever it was! Last year it settled in and only had 5 buds on one scape, but this summer it was in its glory. Four fans, four scapes with an average bud count of 12.
This daylily is a wonderful double dichotomy of deliciousness. It is light and dark, thick and thin. It is speckled and dotted and splashed with color so much that I often stare at it and wonder how to really describe its coloration. Is it a lighter colored daylily (as its petal tips indicate) with a saturated full eye, or what? Whatever it is, I just love it and its changing faces.
I miss this sight; the scads of scapes topped with scads of buds reaching for the summer sky. Now I have scads of dead scapes leaning on each other for support. The major fall clean-up efforts will start next week, after I return from speaking at the Ontario Daylily Society Fall Meeting in Toronto. A few friends from the Garden Club of Dearborn came by last night to buy daylilies they had seen blooming here this summer...it was fun to share some of my favorites with them. I made sure they left with Charles Douglas' prolific H. 'Pick of the Litter' and Larry Grace's classic H. 'Destined to See.' Those need to be in everyone's starter daylily collection and they were thrilled. It is awesome to be able to fill someone else's trunk with plants from my own garden, as so many gardeners have done for me over the years.
This is not only one of my favorite 2010 blooms in my garden, but one of my all time favorite daylilies - H. 'Edna Shaw.' Thick, luscious substance and its habit of staying open late into the evening give this one a leg up in my garden. Like most of the daylilies in my collection, this one has its own special back story...Gloria Hite and I were gallivanting around the Carolinas in 2004 for the National Convention and we stopped by Memory Jordan's place. Memory was still reeling from a very large and brazen theft from her gardens and tall fencing was being installed around the gardens. As I remember the story, while the Jordan's were out for the evening at a convention function, someone pulled up a truck (or trucks) to her gardens and helped themselves to thousands of dollars of daylilies right out of her sales beds. What a mess. But, Memory was still there, digging daylilies in her bare feet. H. 'Edna Shaw' called to me from at least 30 feet away and I had to have it. It took a while to settle in, and after 7 years it is now a nice size clump that I will probably never disturb. Gloria and I have many funny stories from that trip, including missing our outbound planes because we were running around Iron Gate Gardens instead of driving to the airport, and explaining to security that the large, body bag size black garbage bags that we HAD to carry on the plane really were full of freshly-dug daylilies. Oh, the stories!
(l-r: H. ' Eloquent Cay,' and H. 'Tropical Trails') As always, click on the photos to see them larger.
I have been noodling on how I feel about the "scuplting" or "carving" or "embossing" showing up all over modern hybrids of daylilies these days. I wasn't sure if it was quick-passing fad or if it was a quality that added to the flowers allure. Come to find out, I do like it. A lot. The clincher for me was the daylily seen on the above right, H. 'Tropical Trails' introduced by Dan Hansen of Ladybug Daylilies in Florida. I saw this one in his garden and was really drawn to its wide scuplting characteristics. The scuplting comes waaaaay out onto the petals - consistently. See the difference between the "sculpting" in both the above photos? The one on the left shows a more starburst-type pattern with the scuplting, and the one on the right is more long, straight lines. There are even differences among the differences! That's pretty cool.
Both of these daylilies have proven their hardiness for me in Michigan.
I would recommend adding them to your garden to give some of these "sculpted" things a try.