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.)

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