2012 National Daylily Convention Reap | Amity Abloom - The Lucius'

The final stop on day one of the AHS National Garden tours is Amity Abloom, LLC - the garden of Charles and Cynthia Lucius.

Yes, I said Charles and Cynthia Lucius.  The same folks who co-chaired this year's event also opened their garden for the discerning daylily public's greatest tour. Thoughtful combination plantings like this one on the left appear fresh throughout the entire garden and testify to the thought that you actually CAN do it all, and do it well.

These plantings mirror their planning
of the national convention as a whole - the Lucius' orchestrated a well spaced, coordinated team of diverse perennials to handle a task under less-than-perfect conditions.  This photo may be my favorite of the near 650 keepers I shot that weekend.  

Click on it to see it larger!
At the crest of the winding driveway entrance, I was greeted by the most grand piece of daylily art I have ever seen.  A pair of amazing metal daylilies, complete with foliage, scapes and buds.  It is well over 7' tall (I am sure someone has a scale picture to post to show just how tall it was.)  This sculpture beckoned us, leading us toward the back of the property and the daylilies...

There are seven acres of Amity Abloom, and all of it is meticulously tended.  Not even the 50-year drought crushing the Midwest could dry up the inspiration here.  It is hard to believe that they have only been gardening here since 2005!

What I noticed immediately was the attention to detail. The plant markers were easy to see and read, the paths were razor-edged, the rocks and wood accents used perfectly. The sculpture below took my breath away.  What great intention and color!   Right on the edge of whimsical, staying just this side of refined. (kinda like my very fond impression of the Lucius'!)

Below is Bryan Culver's H. 'Spirit Zone.'  I have heard the praises of this one for a while, and seen lots of pictures of it, but never saw it performing in a garden.  Well. It was worth the wait.  This Canadian-born daylily was in grand form this day.

The long expanse of turf, pouting in the drought, reminded me that we are at the mercy of another plan, one that is quite often due opposite of where we thought we would be.  
I love the picture below.  Follow the green snake of foliage in from the left and let your eye see how far back the daylilies go...

The backbone of this garden -the 60-foot long pergola seen above on the right, was built by Charles and punctuates the center of a garden with grace and place.  These are two shots from around the pergola.  

I love the design flow of the shot on the left...

The drought was the antagonist of the otherwise lush convention.  We know that through challenges, we find strength and inspiration.  I think one of the best ways to inspire others is to be vulnerable.

Be willing to show your shortcomings as well as your great successes, so that others can relate.  This garden showed me a great vulnerability to the elements, giving way to the strength and will of its owners.  I felt at home and welcomed.  I was overwhelmed with gratitude that these garden owners gave so much so we could enjoy their green universe.  Look at the wide shots below of the landscape - notice the foliage on the daylilies, the full blooms of shastas - these plants were hand-watered for weeks prior to the convention.  Seven acres, folks - hand-watered with buckets for days on end in blistering heat.  For us.

The horse in the background of the shot above was a surprise!  It is metal, beautifully aged, and I am sure there is quite a story behind its presence, but I was so busy enjoying other features, I didn't get a chance to ask about it.  

Here is a closer view of that bed above.  Again, notice the background.  Now picture yourself carrying water over there to keep it that green.  Amazing.  Amazing.  Amazing.  Every clump was a superstar.  

I saw this feather grass (in the photo on the left below) in many gardens, and I plan to hunt down a few pots this fall to add to the foundational front-yard landscaping.  I think a mass planting of these would be very cool.  

That is H. 'Erin Lea' on the right.  A nice shot of a 1992 daylily with interesting potential.

I sat for a while at the farthest point of the garden, here in this gazebo- enjoying the view over the sales gardens and toward house and the main garden.  We rested in the shade, sometimes in silence and sometimes in laughter, and took it all in.

It was a heavily-anticipated, long, hot, overwhelming day.  My eyes were about at maximum capacity for daylily intake.  My belly was still full from the most amazing lunch at Der Dutchman.  (get there, now.)

I started to wonder toward the house, investigate the snacks, and prepare to head back to the hotel.  We walked slowly, taking note of some sales garden things to add to my collection.

And then I found the pool.

And sat down.

And then people started to join me.

Don Lovell and Nan Ripley from Iowa joined me for some fun.

Well, before I knew it, Charles and Cynthia were hosting a toe-dipping party.


It will be one of my most cherished convention moments ever.  

Some didn't approve of our behavior.  Some even mentioned to me that it might not have been good garden etiquette to sit and enjoy a short splash.  

Bless their hearts.  I hope its not too late for those folks to loosen up and ENJOY THE MOMENT.  Right now! 

People were laughing and joking and splashing and talking and meeting new friends.  They were relaxing and enjoying the hospitality of a garden, surrounded by daylilies, feeling closer to those who share a passion for gardening.  When else am I going to be sitting on a pool deck with Vicki from South Dakota, who I know electronically but see once a year?  When else am I going to get some private chatting time with Don Lovell from Iowa, hybridizer of H. 'Hawkeye Fringe'?  When else is Judie Branson from Arkansas going to roll up her shorts and take a seat on the edge of the pool next to me?  Probably every time, but then again - maybe never.  We are losing too many of our daylily friends to heaven to pass up times like this.  And that makes it totally appropriate to ENJOY THE MOMENT.  

I imagine that once they got over the initial shock of their garden guests enjoying their pool instead of their pathways, Charles and Cynthia would have taken a seat and joined the lively conversation.  The Lucius' daughter Arielle thought our impromptu pool party was hilarious.  So did I.  And so did the 30 other folks who felt comfortable enough in their moment to let it go.  

So, was it appropriate garden etiquette to sit a spell?  In my book, absolutely.  

When people come to my garden, I want them to soak it all up.  "Make yourself at home!" we say.  And we mean it.  I think Charles and Cynthia do, too.

I enjoyed every part of my visit to Amity Abloom.  

I enjoyed the daylily-shaped chocolate mints, the hummingbird cookies, the crafts and art everywhere, and I especially enjoyed the bronze angel, imported to their garden from The Big Easy.  She is magical.

I enjoyed their swings, benches, birdhouses, rocking chairs and spotless pathways dotted with countless points of interest. I enjoyed seeing Dan Bachman swamped by paparazzi while posing next to a clump of his H. 'BJ McMillan.'

also just happened to have enjoyed my friends on their pool deck, too.

We are alive in those moments when are hearts are aware of the gifts around us.  We were certainly alive in your gardens, Charles and Cynthia!  Thank you for making us feel at home.  


Bethany Benton Art said...

Another lovely garden. I'm so glad you all had a nice time around the pool. I say "enjoy the moment" too ... life's too short to do otherwise. :-)

Nikki Schmith said...

Thanks, Beth! I had so much fun!!!


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