Gotta Garden

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Garden Education: Margo Reed and Jim Murphy

It was such a pleasure to listen to Margo Reed and Jim Murphy this past Saturday at the March meeting of the Richmond Area Daylily Society. For those who may not know, they are premier daylily hybridziers focusing on spiders and unusual forms. Their garden is here in Virginia and not only is it beautiful and full of daylilies you'll want to grow...but, it also is full of ideas that others might benefit from. (Click here for Woodhenge Gardens.)

First, one of the appealing things about this pair is that they know their calling. It is refreshing to hear people who are directed and not distracted. And, how could one not love their partnership; the blending of their tastes and efforts is a perfect backdrop for their talent.

Margo and Jim collaborating above...

Margo led off and took us on a tour of their garden. Jim's talents in landscape design are displayed in a garden that includes paths wide enough to allow garden vehicles in...necessary for maintenance of a garden on this scale. There is a spider deck viewing area, built by Jim for Margo as the Spider Woman of Daylilies, but nothing distracts from the awesome display of daylilies.

Before we talk daylilies, one of the fascinating aspects of their garden is the border outside the deer fencing (some ten feet tall with new metal reinforcement going up the bottom four feet). This border is gorgeous and full of deer resistant plants. In another area, I think back by the seedling beds, are gigantic grasses which also act as a screen and deter deer with their sharp edges.

Margo's daylilies are distinctive and I think she will be one of those folks for whom people will look at a daylily and say it must be one of hers. She has a particular fondness for the cascades but is working in a number of areas with her unusual forms, including patterns. Her search for a great white is getting closer. From the look of her seedlings and Jim's, it is hard to imagine how they pull themselves out of the garden each day. Margo's day job is such that her focus is not on early blooming daylilies, but they do occasionally show up in the seedling bed. Some of her daylilies (and Jim's) remain continually sold out as demand continues to outstrip supply.

Margo patiently takes questions from the audience (above)...

They are both interested in daylilies that extend the season and like a long season of bloom. Jim has a number of lates and very lates. Tall daylilies are also of interest and those of us for whom bending over becomes a chore will also appreciate these efforts.

As a horticulturist, Jim brings a wealth of information into their efforts. As a designer, their garden benefits additionally. As a daylily hybridizer, his efforts compliment Margo's and their daylilies are harmonious. Probably his best known daylily to date is the famous Margo Reed Indeed. However, that will undoubtedly change in the future as his daylilies become better known. He carefully selects for strength of scape, long bloom season, height and gorgeous blooms. Only those that pass a strict set of criteria will be offered as introductions.

Jim explains and shares information to the audience (above)...

Margo and Jim no longer start their seedlings inside. I found this of particular interest and was eager to learn more. Between the 1st and 15th of March, all of their seeds are planted directly outside. These seedlings can handle any frosts between March and May, when we here in Virginia are finally frost free (check your locality for the exact frost free date). Growing strong sturdy daylilies that can take the weather and don't require constant fertilization and watering are integral parts of their program. Living in an area of freeze and thaw, usually without the cover of snow, can be hard on plants...and it is their desire to produce and introduce daylilies that are assuredly northern hardy.

I hardly know where to begin when describing their daylilies to come. Save your pennies because you are sure to want several. It will be hard to wait for them, but we know that when they are introduced, we will be assured of sturdy strong daylilies ready to take whatever weather we receive. Order early because as some of us can be hard to track down and obtain some of theirs on the secondary market and the Reed/Murphy daylilies tend to stay sold out.

Thanks very much to Margo and Jim for sharing their talents and especially their knowledge with us.


No trip to Richmond is complete without bringing back barbeque (thanks for the great suggestions, Wayne and Terri) and a trip to the Great Big Greenhouse. Two Pine Knot Hellebores (cream doubles) and two good sized corms of hardy cyclamen also made the ride back to Stafford. Several years ago at a nursery in the Seattle area I saw a planting of azaleas with hardy cyclamen...a neat combination when you think about it. These corms will be the start of my version of this....although I'll need...ahem...quite a few more corms!


Melanie said...

How nice to see photos of Margo and Jim. Loved the post!


Sue Ellen said...

Really enjoyed your post. I read with interest about the border they are using to keep deer out. I may want to give it a try. I don't have many spiders or unusual forms so I will check out their site.

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