Monday, July 25, 2016

The High Cost of Advertising

I don't have any advertising on this blog for a reason.  Let me explain.

For someone who does a blog or website for commercial reasons, advertising may be a necessary form of revenue.  When it's offered to all of us, it sounds like a good deal.  That deal being if anyone visiting your site enters one of the advertisements through your page, you get a stipend.  Sounds like easy money.

Upon investigation of the offer, I found the owners of the web site or the blog agency will choose what advertisements appear on your site.  They promise they will all be relative to your topic.  And let the creepiness begin.  

I visited several garden blogs and web pages and was appalled at what someone thought was relative to the garden topic.  Graphic medical problems (and quack cures), infra-commercials of every crazy thing available during the middle of the night on TV, political advertisements from the highest contributor and the list goes on. 

Some of the advertisements had videos so distracting it was hard to read the printed material without getting car sick.  One site had the advertisements scattered throughout the text to the point I was never sure when it was a part of the article or junk.

I also don't want to be beholding or indebted to a paid advertiser.  Should an advertiser on my little blog try to sell garden pruners that I've found are junk - I don't want to feel pressured to say anything other than "they're junk."      

I know some web sites and blogs must rely on these advertisements and I feel really sorry for what they have to endure.  Should I want all the bells and whistles on my pages for a larger consumer market, I would have to sink lots more money into my little reading material.  I have the option of not really caring if one or one-million want to read what I write.  

I like to compare my writing to someone who knits and gives it away or wraps it around tree trunks because what they are enjoying is the doing.

I've been blessed that I can do this without advertising and outside oversight.  Hope that works for you, too.  


Saturday, July 23, 2016

Always Learning

One of the private gardens I visited.  Click on the pictures and
page through them in a larger version.  Carol uses mushroom compost.    
 I went to the Region 2 Daylily Conference last weekend and besides my being a total daylily geek, many people shared garden information.  Here’s some:

If you have a vole or mole problem, buy chocolate XLAX, break into pieces and stuck one into the breathing earth humps.  Sooner or later the varmint will have a tasty snack and become underground compost.  Don’t do this if you have dogs or cats that dig because they will smell it, love it, eat it and you know the rest of the story.
This private garden was perfect in so many way.
Every daylily hybridizer and retailer is having problems with weeds.  Weeds are becoming resistant to Round-up and other popular herbicides.  Most of them are experimenting with mixing two kinds for pre emergence treating.  Others have said some combos end up killing everything, including their valuable plants.  This is a developing story and advice right now is to be very careful using herbicide mixes around your valuable plants even early in the year.

These are the same lily "Party Queen".  It should look like the bottom
lily every time.  Most of the time it looks like the above lily.

Some plants, even award winning plants, don’t perform perfectly.  Some don’t perform perfectly because of weather changes and others simply aren’t all that good.  Don’t assume it’s you.

Daylilies require LOTS of water because the flowers are made up of a good percentage of moisture.  They need it going into winter, in the spring and off and on all bloom season.  Our particular area has had good rainfall and the lilies are spectacular.  Others must decide to have just a few flowers bloom or they must water.  Side Note:  Daylilies need good drainage or they will rot.  

Professional gardeners fertilize their plants.  They use the right fertilizer for the specific plant, administered in the right amount and at the right time(s). 
One small portion of one field - there were
twenty fields at Rod Kroemer and Jim Wuersch's 5 Acre Farm Daylilies.
Although I found the professional hybridizers I met to be welcoming and encouraging, they’re in a highly competitive business.  They are basically farmers and a good share of their income is derived from being able to introduce a flower other people will buy.  It’s like planting the right variety of corn that distillers want to buy.

I didn’t meet one person involved in any kind of gardening that was in it for any other reason than they LOVE what they’re doing.  That comes miles before income and it’s what sucked them into the business.  It’s the farmer comparison again.  Ever know a farmer that didn’t occasionally stare out at the fields with a complete look of contentment on his or her face?  Yes, they want a good income doing it, but, I don’t know one that isn’t in it first because they LOVE what they’re doing.
 Acres of daylilies.
The professionals will give a poor performing plant a couple of years at most and if it still has faults, it hits the compost heap.  They don’t give away these plants because they feel it would be like serving a second rate pie – simply embarrassing. 

Professionals don’t crowd their plants.  If you’re in it for the money, they know having a disease wild fire its way through their plant stock is suicide.  Giving plants room for air to move freely and weeds to be noticed and removed helps keep things disease free.
Mike and Susan, Champaign IL, have created a private specimen garden.
This is the side entrance to their back yard.  Mike researches a confer's
nutrient needs and mixes his own soil.  
Nature is always a balancing act.  Remove something and another thing will take its place (good or bad.)

A hybridizer/nursery owner from Oklahoma told how a rancher had killed all the coyotes around their town.  A year later the town was overrun with rats.  So many that when they mowed the rats were jumping and scurrying in front of the mowers like grasshoppers.  Nature’s balancing act got severely out of balance.

Another nursery owner told of a law his city passed that all garden centers must kill all red ants on their property.  When this was done, an endangered reptile disappeared because red ants were the only thing it ate.  This reptile kept the ant population down but now residents must use insecticides.  A balance.
"Buddy's Black Lady" might be something I NEED.   
Professional lily hybridizers seldom use insecticides because they rely on bees in their retail growing fields.  Insecticides kill both good and bad insects.  Find other ways to fight the problem.
"Etched Eyes" another beauty.
If you want a daylily to be hardy in your garden, buy from someone who hybridized it, grew it and sells it in a hardiness zone similar to where you live.  That’s not bad advice for most plants you buy. 

I visited two private residential gardens, two hybridizer gardens and two retail gardens while at the conference.  Take advantage of garden walks, botanical gardens, growing fields and visiting garden centers; it’s like the chocolate fudge on an ice cream Sunday.  Talk with other gardeners, both amateur and professional.  It’s part of the joy of summer.

Following is a list of daylily retail outlets close enough to visit:
  • Roth Daylily Farm,  161 Roth Auction Rd., East Peoria IL 61611
  • 5 Acre Farm Daylilies, 1578 County Rd. 300 N., Tolano Township IL 61880
  • Prairie Gardens, 3000 W. Springfield Ave., Champaign IL 61822
  • Webers' Garden, 1006 S. Prospect, Champaign IL 61821.  (This is a retail outdoor/garden center (huge.)
Check their websites for times and directions (5 Acre's address is not recognized on GPS.)

Monday, July 18, 2016

Dear Newby

Dear Garden Newby,  

Put aside your gardening fears and dig, plant and enjoy!  Advice from an old garden dog to young pups:

Don’t be afraid of garden mistakes.  They will either disappear on their own or you will fight them every season.  Either way, you will learn important garden info.

One of my favorite garden flowers.
Let your own inner designer come forward.  Some of the most wonderful, beautiful or plain hysterical garden designs came from people not afraid to let their light shine.

Read garden books but don’t be afraid to put them aside and break every rule.  Every garden phase started with a new idea – some largely criticized, mocked and dismissed and later praised.

Understand the covenants and laws regarding landscaping your yard BEFORE you spend a lot of money.  Better yet before you buy the home.  You will lose the fight and it’s just not worth the time and effort if they stipulate against your plan. 

Don’t let another gardener, a professional landscaper or the general public decide what you like.  Evaluate information and opinions but realize you’re the one who will do the work, look out the window, spend the money and ultimately pay the price if it worked or didn’t work. 

Garden group enjoying a friend's gardens.
Gardeners can be the best of allies, friends and supporters.  Cultivate (pun intended) their friendship.  I’m always learning from my garden friends.  They have passions and knowledge I don’t. 

A plant given away or accepted usually thrives.  As I walk through my garden, I can identify who gave me certain plants.  It brings a smile and memory of that person or situation.

If you hate gardening, hot weather, insects, hard work and spending too much money then stop beating yourself into personally trying to make a “House Beautiful” garden.  Not everyone is cut out to be a gardener.  Hire it done or plant grass.

Don’t be afraid to trim, prune, dig up, throw away, give away or herbicide a plant that is out of control or should never have been planted.
Some plants will die.  Don’t take it personally. 

Push the boundaries of your hardiness zone and conditions.  Sometimes it will work because of micro climates or garden luck.  Note:  I wouldn’t do this with high dollar plants.  Example:  I have a beautiful “Golden Rain Tree” Koelreuteria Paniculata that shouldn’t do well where I planted nor in our zone.  I’ve had it ten years and it’s doing great.
Touring a home garden that morphed into
a garden center.
Take pictures and if you’re into it, keep records. 

Don’t be intimidated by the Latin or genus, botanical or species names.  It allows historians and plant breeders to identify but if you don’t give a hoot – don’t worry.

Consider whether a plant will benefit other nature when choosing.  Native plants benefit native insects and the benefits are huge.

Do not use insecticides without knowing everything it kills.  Insecticides seldom target just the “bad” bugs. 

Kill weeds every chance you get.  The old saying “a stitch in time saves nine” in gardening should be “a stitch in time saves thousands of hours.”

Read, read, and read.  On the flip side, don’t believe everything you read.

Someone's garden humor.
Your taste in garden plants will change over the years.  It’s OK. 

Gardening is a healthy exercise that not only helps your body but your mind.

Use sunscreen and insect repellent EVERY time you go out in the garden.  Too much sun and several insects are truly harmful to your health.

Realize your garden budget is a fictional piece of work meant to assuage guilt. 

Get to know your local nursery owners.  They want to help you have the perfect plant for your gardens.  They love plants and gardeners.  They will work with you.

Be aware of what the farmers are doing; if they are planting, spraying or tilling.  They are much more knowledgeable about the timing and needs.  Example:  If they are battling an insect or disease chances are your garden will, too.

When you visit others’ gardens, respect and accept that their ideas and gardens may not be yours.  Not only learn new things, want new things but understand you also learn what you don’t want and that’s a good thing.

Little toad enjoying the rain.

One of the good guys.
Most of all dear Newby enjoy this wonderful Blessing called nature, especially here in the Midwest.  Whether flowers, vegetables, field crops or other plants, it is a gift not given most of the world. 

Thursday, July 7, 2016

To Deadhead or Not to Deadhead, That is the Question!

"Stella de Oro" self cleans of old flowers about as good as
any daylily but if you want it to bloom longer:  deadhead.
I always try to talk a little about deadheading daylilies each summer.  (Check out previous articles if you're really into learning more.)  Typically, someone always asks if daylilies must be deadheaded.  The one answer is "NO" and then why you should.

Deadheading is snapping off yesterday's spent bloom right below the dead flower.  This will prevent a seed head from forming.  

A little finesse and planning insures you don't break off new buds in the process.  

Here are some other reasons to deadhead daylilies:

Sloppy old flower heads can cause new lilies to not fully open by laying on them or crowding.

It provides an opportunity every day to look at your daylilies.  It's pleasure and preventative because you catch any problems immediately.
"Chloe" deadheaded this morning.

"Chloe" prior to being deadheaded.
If you like to take pictures of your garden plants, a plant with dead flowers detracts.

A seed head will form where the dead flower is and it will take away energy from the plant and shorten the bloom time.
"Chester Cyclone" after deadheading this morning.

"Chester Cyclone" before deadheading.  
Large daylilies really have a lot of heavy moisture in them and can pull down the scape making all future flowers on the ground.

Some red and purple wilted daylilies bleed color over most anything near, including other flowers/plants/sidewalks/etc.  The dye in them is so powerful it will stain clothing and skin.
"Wayside King Royal" will absolutely drip purple/red die
from yesterday's lily all over my hands and clothes.  
Visually, it distracts from the beauty of the plant. 

Be careful deadheading really early in the morning unless you know your plant's bloom habits.  Some lilies are slow to open.  I have "Party Queen" that is never in full bloom until at least noon.  Others have new buds and day-old buds that look very similar.  One way to test "most" of them is to gently and slightly squeeze the bud near where it attaches the stem.  If it feels firm, don't deadhead.  If it is very soft, it's probably yesterday's flower.

That being said, if you dead head in the morning, your plants will look beautiful the entire day.  
"Siloam Ury Winniford" is about as nocturnal as
a daylily can get.  A sturdy little powerhouse.
Some lilies are semi nocturnal.  Some stay open all day plus most of the night.  A few will have both yesterday and today's flowers blooming in the morning hours.  Others may open before dawn; slowly opening as the night progresses into day.

Hope this helps if you decide to deadhead your daylilies.  It's a matter of personal choice and preference.   

Friday, July 1, 2016

Daylily Expectations

"Hemerocallis Princeton Prairie Arts"
Since daylilies are such a wonderfully healthy and easy plant, it's easy to have high expectations for every day, every plant and every time.  But, alas, we must get real.

There's the issue of new daylilies in your gardens.  Even if you plant correctly, in the right place and take perfect care, your daylily may not be exactly as described and some may not bloom at all that first year.  
Get a nice big fan that's been in the actual growing field a day or so before it gets to your garden and it will take hold faster.  It can be potted or bare root but it should have been in the field recently.  Plants that have been in pots for some time will take longer to establish.  

If you live south and don't have hard long winter freezes, I wouldn't buy from southern growers unless they have an iron clad guarantee the plant doesn't have the disease rust.  It doesn't live over winter in our Zone 5 gardens.  I still ONLY buy from local nurseries and from catalog retailers I know and trust.

Follow the planting instructions to the letter.  These people know how to grow daylilies - follow their advice.  The only time I amend the soil around the hole when planting is if it's planted in sticky clay (sticky clay is less than ideal.)  I like my plants to get used to the soil in the whole area around them so when those roots start reaching out they won't notice a difference.
Hemerocallis "Over There" in the old spot struggling because of too much shade.
"Over There" with larger healthier plant - blooms in sunny spot 2016.
Sun light is important.  Seldom does a daylily die from lack of sun (unless totally in the shade then it's a slow death.)  It will suffer, fail to increase clump size and have fewer scapes, buds and flowers.  The scapes, buds and flowers may be deformed or the buds may drop.  In other words:  plant in the sun.

How much sun?  Some dark colored daylilies get bleached or funky colored in hot late afternoon sun.  Some purples and a few reds - although the new ones are being bred to withstand more sun.  Some descriptions will tell you if they need some afternoon shade or if they must have full sun.  Most don't tell you and it's trial and error.

If a daylily isn't happy in the spot you chose or conditions have changed over the years:  move it!  Daylilies are one of the easiest plants to move.  Dig down around the edge (preferable in the spring when they first appear) and lift the entire plant.  Leave on the soil unless you plan to divide it for more plants.  Dig a nice sized hole, plant the exact same depth and water if it doesn't rain.  I always like to mulch around it the first year.  Don't get it up against the base of the plant as it can encourage insects. 

I form a ring around the base of the plant about six inches out made from soil.  This allows me to spot water and it will drain slowly onto the roots.  Daylilies will rot if they stand in water for long periods so make sure you don't over water and don't plant too deep.
Hemerocallis "Designer Gown" 2nd day of blooming 2016
"Designer Gown" first day of blooming 2016

Why doesn't my plant look like the nursery's pictures or descriptions?  The first year (sometimes two) some daylilies need time to get their roots established.  Most, but not all, will put all their energy into this and not into flowers.  Have patience.  I've had a few that take off running a month or two after they were planted but they're the exception. 
Hemerocallis "Nuit D'Amour" first bloom/first year.
Nuit D'Amour subsequent bloom 2016.

Why does the surface of my blooms have blemishes?  Some new plants will have odd bloom blemishes; Not enough energy is going into the flowers.  Most often it's insects munching the lovely color surface.  Earwigs are one of my most damaging petal munchers.  Use tweezers or shake them out into a bucket of dish washing soap.  Since I don't spray insecticides on my lilies, I try to shake most insects into the bucket and the rest gets a free lunch.  

If a lily doesn't thrive in one spot, move it.  It's usually trying to tell you something.  Although daylilies aren't bothered by juglone from walnut trees, they don't like to be crowded by larger plants.  I like a crowded garden, but, it does invite disease and shade.  If my lilies get too crowded, I divide and move.  Back when Stella de Oro was THE daylily, I bought one plant.  I've divided it until I now have ten.  Its tough, bright, blooms all season and increases in size.  I put it in places where other lilies are too picky to do well.  
"Hemerocallis Double Daffy" subsequent blooms 2016.
"Double Daffy" first bloom 2016.
Why did my double lily bloom as a single?  With a few exceptions, all my doubles first few flowers of each season start out single.  They were singles their first year of existence in my gardens.  Some even throw out a single ever now and again just to keep me on my toes.  
"Hemerocallis Bali Hai" has never looked like the AHS description.
It's from a big box store and I'm sure it's wrong but it's a wonderful
looking and behaving plant so I love my whatever it's called.
What if my flower never does look like the description?  I'd say it was mislabeled at the nursery.  Take it back if you don't like it but make sure you kept the tag and receipt.  It may have been done by a customer reading a label and then inserting back into the wrong plant.  Also, the chances of a daylily not being true to the registered form is higher if you buy daylilies from big box stores.

I want to hybridize daylilies - where do I go for help?  The American Hemerocallis Society web site can get you started.  Join a regional AHS group (I'm in Region 2).  Attend a summer regional or national AHS conference.  Join the AHS and start getting their newsletters.  Find out who hybridizes near you and ask if you can visit and talk.  Most love to start another daylily person on the way to hybridizing.  Then just go for it!

Where should I plant my daylilies?  Aside from what I've already covered, make sure it's where you will see them every single day.  Each day brings a new lily and it seems they just get better.  You don't want to miss one flower by planting on the other side of nowhere.  Where do you sit the most in the summer?  Make sure there are lilies in view, whether it's beside the patio, outside the computer room window or by your work bench.  

Get a good camera and take pictures.  Have a good program where you can edit and save.  I save to an external hard drive so it doesn't slow my PC down.  

But, most of all have fun and enjoy your daylilies - they're indeed one of the beautiful blessings of my gardens.