Gotta Garden

Friday, August 31, 2007

AHS Region 3 Meeting in PA.

Time to do a bit of catching up. Well, a lot of catching up! Gotta start somewhere...

As you know or at least surmised, daylilies, especially in summer, capture my gardening heart. Not that I don't like other things or appreciate gardens in general (see my posts on Chanticleer...which I mean to get back to), but, to me, summer is daylilies (okay, tomatoes, too...but this isn't about them!).

One of the highlights this year was getting to attend a regional meeting. All regions have regional meetings (duh, you say), but I didn't quite get that they were public and more like a gathering than a meeting, per se (although there are those kind of meetings...attendance is optional or restricted to officers, board members, etc....that's cool, they can do the heavy lifting!). Anyhow, after much back and forth, (the garden volunteer group (MWH) was conducting a program on, of all things, daylilies, on exactly the same date as the, I ask unlucky is that?? I was torn between feeling obligated to the garden group...although it wasn't my program...and wanting to go the regional. I finally compromised with trying to help with the garden group program, knowing they are supremely capable, and going to the regional. It helped that the regional extended the registration date because with all my dithering, I had missed the original date...and thought my decision was made for me...but, maybe not!) I headed off to Pennsylvannia for a weekend all about daylilies...what could be better?!

After stopping at Chanticleer (giant happy sigh), I managed to get lost (so much for my mapquest directions) going to the hotel and arrived just after dinner had begun. I hurriedly checked in and raced to the tent where dinner was being held...a barbeque buffet type thing. I was able to just get in line and then found a seat. Traveling by yourself has advantages and disadvantages. I don't generally mind it. As an introvert, it does challenge me (probably for the good) at situations like the dinner. I have to introduce myself to folks and ask if the seat is available. Once past that, however, it's usually a good time...and you meet new people. This was the case here. Not only that, I found myself agreeing to write an article on one of the gardens on tour (what was I thinking?? okay, actually, I didn't mind.).

Following dinner, we all headed off to a meeting room where the auction was held. Because I was a latenick, I didn't get my registration packet...with all kinds of goodies...including daylilies...upon check in, but the registration person graciously registered me before the auction. Nice, because it was "closed". In hindsight, there were plants in the auction that went for very good prices (in this case, I mean lower than they probably could have brought) because I'm sure there were people like me who hadn't seen some of these plants...but, guess what...we would see some of them on tour the next day...and wish we would have made a run at them on the auction! Anyway, I was very disciplined (yes, I was!) and looked at the list and decided on one, just one daylily, I would go for. However, (with a steely glint in my eye) I would have that one! That, by the way, is never a good way to approach an auction. You're sure to pay too much. I did get my plant! It was for a good cause. These plants are all donated and the money raised benefits the club hosting the regional and the regional itself. I left after that, not wanting to tempt myself...and let me just say, at that time, it was one of the higher prices. I can only hope I was "topped" later! (Not a record I would like to have)....but, I got the plant (repeat to oneself, over and over).

I should back up here a minute and explain something. Remember when I visited the AHS Display Garden in Maryland? Well, that garden owner, F, is a wonderful person who helped send me further on my daylily journey. When she found out I was planning to attend the regional, she encouraged me (read that as the push in the back I needed) to take the garden judge classes. I had read up on them on the AHS website, but I wasn't confident it was for me. I'm not the "open garden" type. Too many weeds and imperfections. Too likely to stress over it and not squeeze one iota of enjoyment out of it. I'm a "Gardening In"' person (yes, yes, yes, I know...I keep alluding to this...and I really will...maybe this winter...bring that all out...finally) and open gardens are clearly "Gardening Out". Well, F took care of that for me and basically said, "Go to it. Call this person." And, you know, I did. Got myself signed up for the garden judges classes...I'll tell you more about it as I go along.

Saturday morning, up bright and early to catch a bus for the gardens on tour. Those of us taking the Garden Judge 2 class would all ride on bus 1. Easy enough and no decisions necessary. The last garden on the tour, we would actually have a class in the garden. In the meantime, the rides to the other gardens were full of lots of good information, most relating to the class...but lots of other good daylily stuff.

The first garden, the Bastian Garden, we arrived at (the one I would be writing about) was actually a farm. No, not a daylily farm, although there were certainly plenty of daylilies around. It looked like a picture. There was the sparkle and glinting of water reflecting through the woods, a huge John Deer tractor near the barn, chickens and a chicken house, horses in the barn, you name it.

We hopped off the bus and found a full breakfast buffet being served in front of the barn.

You now know something I didn't. They feed you on these tours! Some, most, even gave away daylilies! Did I mention the farmhouse? Here, too, were the daylilies that various hybridizers had sent that were being grown. I think they send them two years or more in advance, so they can grow and settle in. These are also some of the plants that were auctioned off the night before. Some pictures:

Pompom Poppies (or so I call them):

Welcoming front door:


Gemini Jack:

Lavender Blue Baby:

Forsyth Dark Eyes:

Next, we went to the garden of the Stauffers of Kissel Hill. This was of particular interest because I have bought their daylilies for years from a local nursery chain. Where we visited was the personal home of the founder (recently retired from the business; think his son maybe runs it now...they have their own stores in PA). As you can see, they love daylilies here, too. We were fed here, as well, and given a daylily (Porcelain Ruffles). I was just amazed at all of this...the generosity of everyone...the time and effort they've gone to preparing for all of was hard to take it all in. A very lovely stop.

Quite the 55 mph garden, wouldn't you say?

Always Afternoon:

Porcelain Ruffles:

Primal Scream:

Then (I think...I may have this slightly out of order, but you'll forgive me), we actually went to lunch! Lunch! Let's see...I had had a major breakfast at the first garden, complete with whoopie pies for the road, snacks at the second garden...and now I was to eat lunch. I guess somebody has to do it (hehehe). We had sandwiches, etc. at a restaurant that managed our four buses with ease...along with a nearby soccer tournament that was going on, so clearly a place for crowds.

Next, we went to Don Herr's garden. He is a wonderful hybridizer (check out his site) and this was a chance to see his daylilies. For me, most of his I had only seen online or maybe in a picture. I was blown away! I want, I want, I want. Does that say it all?? Oh yes, never fear...we were fed here, too. All kinds of goodies, including these blueberry scones with white chocolate chips...and Shaker Tea...yum.

Some of his seedlings (only a few...there were so many beautiful ones):

Some of Don's introductions:

Flamenco Twirl:

Strawberry Margarita:

Whistle a Happy Tune:

Award winning You Are my Sunshine:

Seedling bed:

Some other hybridizers' flowers that he grows:

Bella Sera:

Shores of Time:

A couple that were $300 upon introduction:

Peace Beyond Understanding:

And, Holy Guacamole:

Betty Ford which won, I believe, Best Red, on the tour:

Spacecoast Starburst, which seems to have been a great parent for Don:

I noticed current judges walking around with their ballots as Don had some of his up for awards clearly marked (smart man!). This is something I'll get to do next year, but more on that later on. I took lots of pictures here (the want thing).

Our final stop was another beautiful place, The Tomlinson Garden. This one featured some of hybridizer Joe Tomlinson's beautiful flowers and also the seedling bed for the tour (seedlings...not yet registered...of region 3 hybridizers). This was also, as I mentioned, where we had our garden judge class (no. 2, no. 1 would be on Sunday). Here, I (and others) began to put into practice what we had been reading and talking about. How to look at daylilies, what makes a daylily award worthy, how to fill out the forms, what do the different categories mean, how to look at daylilies in different settings (this was the last stop...and afternoon...and hot), etc. Lots of things to take in. We divided into small groups to practice. Unfortunately, I would have loved at least another 30 minutes in this garden to just look around for myself...but, you can't do everything. I did a quick run around...and then it was time to get back on the bus. I think they fed us at this garden and had daylilies, but those of us doing the classes missed it (like we needed more food...!).

Swirling Water:

Virginia hybridizer Jim Murphy enjoying the garden:

The seedling bed where we spent much time learning:

A totally gorgeous flower, by Joe Tomlinson...Lyndell's Forever Pink (I don't think this one's been introduced yet):

I'd like to thank all of the garden owners. Their efforts were so appreciated. The food, the bottles of water, everything, was just perfect. Thank you so much!

Back to the hotel we went. Four gardens is enough, really. I was kinda tired. We still had the dinner and the night's speaker to look forward to. I think I just kicked back for a bit in my room (nice) and then got ready for dinner. Because of nice conversations (and even nicer people), seating was not a problem. On our seats were various gifts...Did I mention the boutique? I don't think I did. After the bus trip...we were given a bus plant! Darrel Apps, I was told, donated a bunch of them. We came inside and were handed a daylily (score!) and then I made my way to the boutique. Daylilies were for sale in there, too (who knew) as well as all kinds of items. I...ahem...did buy one or two (I had to get a Don Herr one, don't you know).

Anyway, dinner...was very good...I think an Amish buffet...lots of hearty food...then we listened to professional photographer and author Derek Fell give a presentation. I was sorta surprised to learn that he does not do digital, he uses film. As you might guess, the slides were magnificent...his work has appeared in major magazines, calenders and books. One of the things that struck me was that he talked about how a lot of photography is simply luck. (I think so, but having a great eye, throw a little talent in...can't hurt, you know?) He made his point by showing us a picture so beautiful...and said it was just because he happened to be there...then, at that time...not earlier, not later. He even showed us (along this vein) several taken at the exact place, but at different times...or at the exact place, but a year later. Nature does that...a continuously changing show. Seeing his pictures was an enjoyable event. Books of his were for sale (you know I love books, especially garden books), but, for some reason (I forget now), I managed to escape without one. Hmmm, there's always amazon...

Anyway, the dinner and speaker kinda wrap up the regional meeting. There are awards presented...Don Herr won more than a few (most deservedly)...note to self: you have to pay attention and write down daylilies in each garden because you will absolutely not remember when it comes time to vote...and thank yous....and it was done. Kudos to DVDS! I cannot imagine the enormous amount of time and effort that went into putting on such an event. It was just terrific! Did I mention our goodie bag (another note to self: they give you the bag for a year, take it on the bus to hold all the things you acquire...) had a cd with pictures from the tour? Daylily note cards? That's just a was quite nice!

So, Sunday morning arrives and people are leaving...but not us folks taking the garden judge no. 1 we went to the meeting room. I was actually pretty excited and nervous at the same time. There would be a test...and when was the last time I have taken a test?? (Not that I have missed them, mind you.) We were all accounted for and the lecture began. They were very good, btw, Kevin Walek (AHS President) and Julie Covington. Very enjoyable...we laughed, got to ask questions...and I am telling you, I will never, never, never look at a daylily the same! The test was given...and I did fine (Did you doubt me??!! Ha!). All that was left was to fill out my application and wait for approval. Since I have taken so long to do this, I can tell you.....(drum roll)....I'm in! And, for those in the know, I sent in my ballot! (Should I add that to my profile?? I'm just kidding...!!)

Here ends another daylily adventure. Not that it is the last of my adventures, by any means...just all for now. I must get out in the garden and rip out some tomatoes that are smothering the daylilies. Not to worry, the tomatoes will be safely taken off and put into the window sill (which is looking rather bare of late...see Gotta Eat). Take care now.


P.S. Guess where the regional meeting is next year? Richmond, VA! (Will I see you there?)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Garden Education: Felder Rushing

On Friday the thirteenth (of July), it was not unlucky that I heard the famed Felder Rushing speak at last. He has been on my list of people-I-want-to-hear for some time. I approached the lecture with a smile on my face and left with that smile plus laughter in my heart. Now, that’s a great speaker!

You just knew it was going to be a good time. Take a look at this quirky planter (in a bag of mix) at the check in table. Someone won that, I think, at the end of the talk.

It looked to be a packed house and I soon learned why. I don’t know when I have laughed so much or nodded my head in agreement (even as I furiously scribbled notes). After a welcome that included learning that Felder’s sister was in attendance in the audience, Felder launched into his talk. I believe his topic was containers…and those were included, of course (and especially his famed tire planters…but more on that later), but his main topic was fun…fun in the garden.

There are three things essential to a garden, we learned, and they include a swing, chairs and a wind chime (or two or three or a dozen). The longer the chain on the swing (if you didn’t know this), the slower the swing…this way, you can indulge in slow gardening as you slowly swing. Chairs are necessary for a place to sit and those wind chimes are for your senses to enjoy and, hopefully, your neighbors, too.

He told us horticulture has rules (which he likes to break) but gardeners have rights and he believes those rights trump the rules. (Hey, he convinced me.) Herewith are those rights (with my apologies…I could only write so fast):

Gardeners’ Bill of Rights:

  1. You may have as many wind chimes as you can afford.
  1. You may mispronounce plant names (that’s a relief to us all).
  1. You may have no grass at all or a little patch.
  1. You have the right to garden from your own perspective.
  1. You have the right to prune or not prune your crepe myrtles. The plants don’t care. (Well….)
  1. The worse people can do is talk about you….There are sports and horts.

He is, after all, just a goofball trying to have fun. I must add that goofball is a favorite term of my husband’s, so Felder endeared himself to me here, if he hadn’t already. It would be remiss on my part, however, to not point out that although he may call himself a goofball, he is a plantsman through and through, and highly qualified. To learn more about that, have a gander at his website.

Felder told us that roses are not as hard to grow as people make out. After all, dead people can grow them (at cemeteries…joke!). It’s not what you have, he told us, but what you do with it. He himself is a turf specialist although he doesn’t grow any grass. As he says, a brain surgeon doesn’t have to have a tumor. In his words, just say no to turf grass. His favorite gardening tool, you ask? A rain gauge.

He has two easy rules for composting:

  1. Quit throwing that stuff away.
  2. Put it somewhere.

We were given his potting mix recipe: 50/50 cheap potting mix and pine bark. Felder likes Miracle Grow, Osmocote and Round Up. He did tell us how he plants a container and showed wonderful and funny slides of all kinds of containers (just use your imagination).

I had a Eureka moment when I saw his tire planter….do you remember when my sister and I visited Riverbanks and we saw this unusual planter?? The wild one?? Guess what it is! Tire planters are gracing botanical gardens all over as well homeplace gardens.

It was quite something to see Felder demonstrate how to make a tire planter. It didn’t look all that hard and with his tips (like not every tire will turn inside out; cut just the sidewall; and push it with your knee…), it looked like something we could do. You can paint them any way you want. Felder gives you permission! He has his own version of what to put in it, i.e., spiky, roundy, frilly, and floppy (as opposed to thriller, frillier, and spiller).

(Sorry these pictures are not so great, but you can get the idea.):

I think maybe Felder is a gardening guru. You know, free the inner gardener stuff. The rules are meant to be broken, he says (he even wrote “Break the rules!” in one of the books he signed for me. Did I mention just how nice he is?? He signed three books for me, let me take his picture and was just so doggone pleasant!). One of the things he told us was that lightening up doesn’t mean lowering your standards…but if you do, that’s okay! His main message was to just have fun in the garden…and you know, I think I will!

I hope you'll revisit Lewis Ginter with me in the post below. It's so wonderful to be able to follow a major garden through the seasons.

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