Thursday, June 16, 2011

Breakfast at Emily's .....Daylily Garden

A breakfast in the garden starting at 6:30am, what a wonderful idea I thought to myself when I received the invitation. A perfect time of day for a gardener who is used to getting up early to beat the heat...especially this year in Middle Tennessee where it has been in the mid-90s for the past 19 1/2 days without a drop of rain (but who's counting).

Baked breakfast casseroles, baked garden soil and plants, and half baked gardeners (oh wait, that's just me) all commiserating and admiring the beauty of Emily's garden and appreciating all of her hard work so that friends could come and enjoy.

As I walked through the garden with Emily, she showed me her favorite daylilies and told stories of where they came from, the lilies heritage and the people who hybridized them. Emily's mom handed the love of daylilies down to her and she has poured that into the lives of her girls.

What fond memories children have when they spend time in the garden with parents and grandparents. I raised my children in a garden and now I am spending time with my grandchildren who can't wait to go to CiCi's garden each time they come to visit.

One can learn a lot of an experienced gardener like Emily Robertson, who so graciously shares her garden and her knowledge with anyone who wants to learn. Here are a few pointers about growing daylilies from Emily:

Plant daylilies in full sun for the best flower show.

Buy daylilies with a double fan (the green leaves) unless specified for best success rate. A triple fan is a good idea for Spider varieties.

Dead heading isn’t necessary but helps to keep a pure cultivar as daylilies can cross.

Daylilies bloom for one day only (hence the name day lily)

Daylilies make lovely cut flowers and buds will continue to bloom but will have to be dead-headed in the vase to keep the arrangement looking pretty.

If you are showing daylilies, live head the night before a show by pulling off blooms and leaving the buds which will open in the morning. This will keep old blooms from discoloring or oozing onto new blooms.

Join a daylily society or club to learn more and to trade lilies when they multiply.
Clubs also have sales where you can buy plants at reasonable prices while supporting the association.

Daylily flowers are edible, Emily thinks yellow and pale yellow are the sweetest flavor, stir-fry the buds, use the flowers in salads and on cakes.

Emily uses a time release fertilizer around daylilies in the spring.

When planting new daylily clumps, Emily adds compost or alfalfa pellets to the hole.

Monty’s Joy Juice is a wonderful natural foliar fertilizer and Emily’s favorite.

Ideally, dormant oil sprayed on daylily clumps once a month in January, February and March help to keep bug problems to a minimum.

Divide every five years; be careful not to plant to deep. Soil line should be where green meets roots.

Best time to divide or move daylilies is May thru the end of September. When one procrastinates and suddenly it is November (no one ever does that, right?) No problem, Emily lays a brick on the east and west side of the fan (leaves) to add heat and to keep the roots from heaving out of the ground during the winter. A trick she learned from her mother.

Alfalfa pellets will heat up in the hole during the winter which helps when you divide and plant later then you should.

If you divide or move in the heat of August cut some maple branches and make a tee pee over the plant. The leaves help the plant to transition in the heat and sun as they shrivel and dry up. Another trick Emily learned from her mom.

When temperatures remain above 90 degrees for a spell, daylilies will go dormant and don’t need excessive amounts of water. Water sprinklers can cause heat dormant lilies to rot.

A local Tennessee source for daylilies, Daylily Cove, Franklin, TN – Al Brewer, 615.790.3306