2012 National Daylily Convention Recap | Deep Ditch Gardens

Near six weeks later, I am still really enjoying my pics from the 2012 AHS National Convention.  My season was near dried up when I left for Columbus, so these are really the last great daylilies I saw before we put the 2012 daylily season in the history books.  The seventh garden we visited was the five-acre home garden of Donna Kowalczyk, coolly named "Deep Ditch Gardens."

First of all, this is Donna's front porch.  How yummy is this?!  Perfect white pillars, perfect deck rail boxes and perfect hummingbirds fluttering all about it...  I love the darker foliage accents in the front planting.  Its echoed in the deckrail boxes, which brings the eye up and extends the garden "backside."

It is no secret that daylily people can eat, and will eat you alive if your refreshments aren't up to expectations.  Over the years, I have collected quite a sampling of photos of food tables at garden homes.  

Donna had a great selection of healthy, fresh, fun snacks to eat, and a the most awesome congregating area in which to enjoy the refreshments.  Here is Nan Ripley enjoying the great skewers.  Skewers are the best garden food implement there is!  Maybe Ill try to find a cookbook or website dedicated to cold skewer appetizers for my own garden parties next summer.  

Here is Donna, the second red shirt from the left in the picture below.  She is hanging out in the snack area, among the macaws, loving cats, children, neat seating solutions and the most delicious beverage served on the National Tour.  (See that punch bowl in the back of this photo below?  That's it!  It was a coffee-chocolate-ice cream-mocha-whipped cream concoction that required its own security guard!)

One of the best parts of this visit were the vignettes of places to enjoy the space.  Here is one of the most ingenious seating ideas I have ever seen.  Bales of hay, covered with a bit of muslin, tied with jute.  Adorable, functional and fun.  I am so stealing this idea.  You could have seating for 12 for less than $50 at your next bonfire...

Like in most daylily gardens, there was an area of "all blue" where Donna had artfully placed several brightly colored accents in another great seating spot.  This small bottle tree caught my interest and may be just the size I need for one of my own.  I love the idea of the blue bottle tree, whose origins are apparently rooted in warding off negative energy in the garden.  I just cant seem to find a version for me that fits my style.  This one was "just enough." 

Here is a great article on these from Felder Rushing if you are interested in why in the world we might have started adding these things to our gardens anyway...  You can click here for a Google Image search on blue bottle trees.  Get your eyes ready for some serious visual overload and inspiration!  Don't click there unless you are prepared to spend about 30 minutes drooling.

But I digress.  Of course there were daylilies at Donna's, too!  She grows about 1000 cultivars, and I especially enjoyed H. 'Marietta Dazzler' with its tiny petal connections in the throat.  Notice where the petal segments attach together in the throat.  That tight little yellow throat sets off the dark self well.  Not a highly decorated daylily, but one that has sass.  Donna also had a neat collection of diverse bird houses on posts dotted all over.  I enjoyed this arrangement on the side of her house.

H. 'Nowhere to Hide' was here, mocking me as usual.  This daylily has escaped my grasp for years.  I have tried to buy it many times, and it is always sold out.  I did get it once, but when my auction purchase arrived it was a tiny pencil of a fan and it didn't survive.  FINALLY I have it on the way from a grower in my area who knows what she is doing, so I hope to have it once and for all.  This one does crazy things on the show table, the indoor lighting really sets off the veining and puts on an unmistakable show.  I cant wait to show this one!

Much like the Hensley and Lucius gardens, I just plain had fun here.  I meandered a lot, which is what I expect Donna wanted us to do.  Long, shady paths beckoned to be discovered, and they seemed to go on forever.  Long, first-time conversations were had here, too.  I got to chat for the first time with Paulette Miller, who is a super interesting lady with a cool vibe.

I also spent time chatting with the bird handler, a few folks who didn't know much about the Stout Medal voting process, and I also spent time alone, enjoying the pond, waterfall, gazebo, the miniature fairy gardens, the Curt Hanson bed, and surprising pieces of art stashed all around the garden.  I shared the story of the grossest moment in my life (I'm not sure WHY) with two folks who won't forget the tale, and I laughed hysterically with old friends who are always in my gardening thoughts, even when we are not together.

bottom row: H. 'Victorian Lace' and H. 'Inca Puzzle'

In this garden, as visitors we were connected and distant.  There was enough room for us to spread out and enjoy it in our own way, and in the same breath, Donna created spaces where we congregated together over stuff "to do."  If you are ever on a garden tour, I would suggest something for your visitors "to do."  We swung in hammocks, ate good food, held a huge parrot and enjoyed a well-thought out daylily collection.  

It was a grand visit to Deep Ditch, and it was great to finally see where Donna does her thing.  I was inspired when I left it, and that is the ultimate indicator of a good visit to another's garden.  I wrote this haiku as our buses pulled away from Deep Ditch that day...

taking time to look
at green spaces of others
inspires me deeply!

Thanks for the inspiration, Donna!!

H. 'Stargate Portal'


Bethany Benton Art said...

Hey, Nikki, I enjoyed the lovely tour. What a great seating idea! I'll have to steal that one too. I love blue bottles in the garden too. They're definitely add a "pop of color." All the best! :-)

Nikki Schmith said...

Send me pics, Beth! Also, send more Daylily Soup! XOXO N


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