Friday, January 11, 2008

Diamond Dusted Balsams

Friday, January 11, 2008

An interesting early morning here at the missing-flower-farm where the landscape remains white and our flowers are buried deep in snow. Sleet is pounding the side of the house and rain is dripping down the windows. It's dark like a pocket outside and the sun will surely be slow to want to wake up Marshfield this morning. Even Karl the wonder dog doesn't want to go out even though it's past his time. I've already been out to check the ice on the truck doors and wipers and I have that warming up for this morning's ride to Newport. Life in Vermont offers driving challenges and it's always best to be prepared.

Gail and I are busy at planning our spring activities. We met with a neighbor two nights ago and it looks like he will help construct our building at our new location. I had given this a lot of thought and was almost set on buying a prefab building that could come in on a flatbed and be open for business within half a day. Trouble was that the more I thought about the timing, the less convinced I was that I could get all the site work finished and the building unloaded without getting the tractor trailer stuck in the wet spring clay.

On one side I didn't want to spend a couple weeks working all kinds of hours doing construction and on the other side, the thought of saving some money and avoiding a big headache seemed more appealing. My neighbor will work up a materials list and I'll do some pricing and scouting for exterior ship lap and we'll go from there.

This morning's darkness needs some color and the thought of daylilies is one way to brighten things. We like daylilies and have hundreds of names to choose from. Gail likes the older varieties and I am partial to tall ones. Our daylily journals have had recent communication about a rebirth in interest in tall varieties. This is exactly where I want some hybridizing to go in a few more years when I have more time. In the world of daylilies, this has already gone full cycle more than once. For the past ten years the emphasis has been on edges and stem count and bud count on reasonably sized plants probably in the 26-28 inch range. Now people are showing interest in "tall" and that makes me happy.

At the top of the page is Arctic Snow. This is another one of the earlier attempts at a pure white daylily. This is a very dependable daylily which catches your eye and mixes well with all plants. It has good stem count and doesn't seem to get nailed by earwigs like some of the lighter ones do. It is average size and not tall.

Just below is Along The Way. This is a favorite of mine because it has thick stems that are high wind/rain strong, has lots of buds and blooms for a long time. 34" tall would not be uncommon. The petals have good substance and the throat color combination and height catch your attention.

There are hundreds and hundreds of reds out there but Baja is a good one for many purposes. The petal and throat contrast nicely and draw your attention from afar. Baja has good genes and is in many hybridizer collections. I like any daylily that gardeners can afford and be happy with and this is one.

When I mention tall I often think about Autumn Prince (below). This is an old daylily as daylilies go. It dates to 1941 but it will never be forgotten. It's 42 inches or taller (ours are +5 feet now), late blooming as in Labor Day and later, and the flowers are very fragrant. The flower count on three or four year old plants is very good and to have attention getting plants after we have probably had a frost or two here is another positive. There's something likable about walking around your garden at the end of the season when you're tired and being able to avoid bending to see and smell nice blooms. This isn't a fancy flower but it deserves a look-see.

If you have stopped by to visit and had the misfortune to ask daylily questions of me, (Gail is the authority here!) I have probably asked my standard question about where you intend to plant and what colors you have in mind. I always try to find out if gardeners enjoy their gardens late afternoon and evenings and if they can see them from inside the house, a patio, walkway, or recreation area. There is a reason to my madness because certain flowers draw attention to your entire garden. I encourage people to plant some big yellows or golds that stand out as the sun fades. Such plants catch a visitors eye and bring reoccurring "atta boys" and "atta girls" to the actual planter. The golds of the Chicago series and plants such as this Jersey Spider do what I am suggesting you consider.

There is a group of gardeners who are interested in whatever is the latest daylily registration. These folks are "have to have" gardeners and they have the dollars to spend on those new releases. Gail and I are farmers so we know what poor means but we also know that you don't have to spend a lot of money to have nice flowers. We encourage most people to develop a color scheme they like and then work in the more expensive looking varieties as they can. "Expensive looking" doesn't have to be expensive.

About five years ago now I gave Alex a Gilbert H Wild catalog and told him to pick 20 daylilies he liked. I didn't put any restriction on price. Every one that he picked has turned out to be a very good seller including Catherine Neal pictured below. Give this some thought and you'll understand my message.

Well, things are lightening up outside as the sleet is turning to rain. I have to get out of here as I still don't know what the main roads will be like. The top half of all the fir balsam trees is diamond dusted with ice which has brought beauty to a not-so-nice day.

From the mountain above Peacham Pond where three red squirrels are cleaning up sunflowers that a picky blue jay is kicking off the platform feeder. I don't like birds with bad manners!

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener

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1 comment:

joey said...

Wow George! Our foot of New Year's snow melted last week with balmy record breaking temps, obviously not headed your way ... Enjoyed this post. I love daylilies. Sadly, I don't know the names (planted more than 20 years ago in my garden) but make lovely subjects to photograph ...'Along the way'is a beauty. Stay warm!