Breathing Room.... | Daylily Haiku Thursday

It is fall clean-up time in the gardens.  Its also the time where I notice all those garden chess moves I said I'd make and never got to in the bloom season.

moving and changing.
the fall is falling too fast
for my summer dreams!

These are the raised beds that serve as the home to my seedlings.  They live at my parent's house about 35 minutes from here - far enough away that I cannot obsess about them every day.  My dad does that.  About five years ago he went through several very serious surgeries and we (and he) didn't think he would make it out the other side.  For a man who hardly ever went to the doctor in 60 years, smoked and drank like every night was a bad redux of a Guns 'n Roses song, eight trips under the knife in one year is enough for anyone to start looking for God.  
But, he pulled through - after a long and hard recovery - and started to enjoy the overflow gardens I planted in their yard for my seedlings.

That was in 2006- and today that one original raised bed has now mutated to six raised beds that house only daylilies I have hybridized.  These daylilies do not exist anywhere else, there are none exactly like these in the world.  I didn't buy them.  I pollinated flowers, created seed, germinated the seed and POOF!  A new daylily was born!  My dad gets a special kick out of being the only one who has these particular daylilies.  He likes to be the first one to see them open.  Some of them are dogs, and some are wonderful and registration-worthy, but he likes them all.  And I like that after his forced-disability into retirement he has found something to fill his days.

After bloom season this year, I lamented about the state this overflowing bed.  The above pic was taken in June and the below pic was taken at the end of September.  You can see the PVC pipe lengths that allow me to insert the tag for better viewing above the foliage.  This also helps his ailing back when he takes pictures.  NEAT NOTE:  I also made these so that 26" sticks out of the ground, therefore, I have a quick, real measure of what height the scapes are at.  Look back at that first picture.  Now realize the pipes are 26", you can guesstimate how tall some of those seedlings are.  These clumps need dividing and culling something fierce.  So, I tackled it one Sunday this month.

First, I cut back all this foliage to about 6" and made some tough decisions about which ones no longer deserved some garden real estate.  I dug out 31, 3-year old clumps (some bigger than others) and ruthlessly culled.  

My dad said he could hear the plants screaming as I threw them in the compost.  Sigh.

After 3 years, the soil also needed some amendment and aeration.  Some of the roots had fused to the sideboards of the bed, so I knew I needed to get deeper in the bed and provide more space.  I added mushroom compost, sweet peat, top soil and a couple cups of Milorganite (yes, I am well aware that it is pelletized waste dredged from the sewers of Milwaukee) to the bed and stirred well.  I used my trusty Garden Claw and mixed by hand and hazmat suit.  I think we were able to add about 3" of depth in the bottom of the bed, too, so that will help.

The arduous task of dividing the clumps and replanting began next.  See them there in the background of the above photo?  I only kept seedlings that had future promise as stand-alone introductions.  I did not keep any of the "well, maybe someday..." or "it has potential as a bridge plant..." seedlings.  18 of the 31 got a space in the new bed.  Some clumps I divided, others I did not.  If it was 3 fans or less, I either culled it or replanted it as it was.  (IMHO, 3 fans in 3 years is not a good increaser.) 

I used my Daylily Divider (click here for the website) to divide the clumps.  That tool, with its new foot-post add-on is like a hot knife in butter.  Now that I have learned how to use it properly, I wont be without it.  My hands have a perpetually dull ache from old injuries and prying fans apart by hand is excruciating after about an hour.  I love this tool.

I planted the double and triple fan divisions in rows, replaced the PVC pipes, inserted the plant tags at the top, sprinkled with PREEN and called it a day.  My dad will mulch it after Thanksgiving to allow for the fall rains to reach the bottom of the new bed.

There are six real contenders for a future introduction in here and a few others that deserve just one more year of evaluation.  
The bed heaved a sigh of relief at its new organization.  The plants definitely have more room to soak up sun and water now, unobstructed by overgrown and no longer desirable neighbors.

I cant wait to see what these burst into next summer.  Here are a few of the faces that bloomed in this bed this year. I kept them all.   Some parents in these crosses are DEBBIES VOWS, BUTTER CREAM, and SABINE BAUER.  (FYI- H. 'Butter Cream' and H. 'Sabine Bauer' is a major dream cross for me, and one that is doubtful to ever be fruitful...)  That second one below had 45-50 buds on it!  The highest bud count in my seedling bed!

I think you can click on the images to make them bigger.

Anyhoo, that's the biggest construction going on here now.  I have my "circle bed" in shambles right now trying to replant clumps and move hunks of low-growing salvia around.  Today the temps are in the 70's and I'm hoping for two hours of dedicated gardening time this afternoon.  If I could just keep Floyd out of the dirt and stop him from eating the mulch and attacking the shovel and chasing the rake and biting my ankles, I would be more productive.  

FLOYD!!! (he's so high fashion)

Til next time...


Loretta Zink said...

I sure enjoy your blog.... it motivated me to try my own hand at blogging. lol



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