Atlanta Weekend... | Part One: Kennesaw Mountain Daylilies

I have a love affair with Atlanta - well, maybe Georgia as a whole.  It is by far my adopted home state and any chance I have to travel there to enjoy the daylilies and the people I do not miss.  
riday I left home at 3:45 am for the airport.  No lack of sleep could damper my excitement to see Kennesaw Mountain Daylily Gardens - the home gardens of the wonderful Bill and Diana Waldrop.

Bill and Diana are both expert growers and plant people!  Although the famous "Randy" did not make an appearance for me, I did get to see thousands of daylilies grown to near perfection!  
Bill has several daylily introductions that knock my socks off wherever I see them grown, but seeing them in his own garden, growing how he sees them, was breathtaking.  As I have mentioned before, I already grow and am a huge fan of H. 'Pastor Lorrie Ann Moeller', H. 'Irish Halo' and H. 'Kennesaw Mountain Lemon Sorbet.'  

(H. 'Kennesaw Mountain Hayride' and H. 'Red Sapphire')

It is no surprise that I was not able to purchase "the hayride" while there.  His H. 'Kennesaw Mountain Hayride" (seen above, left) has been on the market for a few years now, and I have yet to be able to get my hands on it.  He is sold out, and as it turns out, so is everyone else!  Although it is a luscious pink, it is a "man's pink" daylily.  It is beefy and frosty and commands attention in the garden, the greenhouse and on the show bench.  (His exhibit of it won "Best Large" flower at the show the following day!  More on the show later...)

I grow his H. 'Red Sapphire' here in Illinois and seeing it in his greenhouse made me even more excited to see it bloom for the first time in my own gardens.  It is so distinct!  The Cobb County Daylily Society even uses it in this year's shirt logo!  There are a few daylilies that you can recognize without reading the tag, and this is one of them.  Clear, clear, clear colors on a great big flower face.  

I have fallen in love with many flower photos over the years, only to be disappointed with their actual presence in my own gardens.  I try and try to grow the daylily in the picture, but more often than not, I find that daylilies do not live up to the hype of their photos. It was very refreshing to visit a southern grower, whose flower photos captivate me, and whose introductions DO live up to the hype of the photos.  Some even beat the photos I had seen - and H. 'Marietta Melon' is one of those.  I had to resist the urge to pick this bloom and eat it - it looked so deliciously beautiful.  Check it out for yourself...

H. 'Marietta Melon' - YUMMY!

I saw this one both in the greenhouse and in the garden, and they were both stunning and well over 7".  No bait and switch here, friends.  What you see really is what you get.  I'm getting the impression that is what all the Waldrop introductions are, and this is not something I can say of all hybridizers. I wish I could show you the hundred or so photos I took of his seedlings and upcoming introductions!  He has some purples and other goodies that are truly unmatched on today's market - with teeth that would make the most experienced dentist reach for an extractor.

It was also a treat to see Diana's vegetables and clever plantings around their pond, in their breezeway, and near the famous "bed of ivy!"  She is gunning for a 4-pound tomato this year, to best the 3-pounder she had in 2011.  The cucumbers, watermelon and peppers were beautifully grown and displayed! 

Beds were well marked, precisely edged, and a joy to wander.  His greenhouse is a spectacle, and I was very interested in the details of his cooling and drainage system.  I learned so much and because I currently do not have any grandiose plans to ever have my own greenhouse, I was surprised at how interested I was in the workings of his private playroom.  

I spent a few minutes in there alone, shooting photos of H. 'Merlot' and H. 'King Cobra' (below) and took some time to imagine what it would be like to have my own greenhouse.  The daydream was fun!  I'll be sure to tell my husband its Bill's fault when I ask him to cash out his 401K to replicate Bill's greenhouse at my house.

H. 'King Cobra' (Jamie Gossard)

No matter how many gardens I visit, or how many people come to mine, I always learn something new and get new ideas. I come home rejuvenated to try something new.  Thank you to Bill and Diana for giving me time on a day that begged for them to be doing so much else.  Sammy the Cat was not too fond of my presence, but I think the rest of us had a grand visit.  I appreciate their hospitality (especially the fresh raspberries) and encourage you to see more of their daylily life on their website and on Bill's blog.

More soon on the joint daylily show put on by The Daylily Society of Atlanta and the Cobb County Daylily Society...that will be part 2! Until then, enjoy the pictures and enjoy each other!


Bethany Benton Art said...

I enjoyed the beautiful post, Nikki! H. 'King Cobra' is stunning. Well, they all are! I have decided I "need" a greenhouse too! :-)


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