Monday, December 27, 2010

Yay, the first blizzard arrived by the Sound in Connecticut!

I always look forward to the first blizzard arriving so my gardens can be blanketed for the rest of winter in nature's best mulch, precious snow.  This one brought us over two feet of heavy wet snow that will hopefully stay for weeks in my beds, especially since I never got a fresh layer of mulch on all of my gardens before our first hard freeze.  I did get some of them done with some fresh organic compost and the Sweet Peet I had left over, so I did better than usual.  I always have the best intentions, but just as the ground is freezing, just like everybody else, I am rushing to get Christmas shopping done, cards sent and and all the other millions of details for the holidays taken care of.  I know most of my gardener friends feel the same...most of us are ready to put the garden to bed as October wanes into November and we welcome the holiday season and all its attending fun and festivities.  I also love to cook, and when the weather turns cold, I just want to be in my kitchen making soups, stews, pizzas, and baked goodies.  And I love when all the seed and plant catalogs start coming so I can dream about all the new plants I am adding to my gardens in the spring.  I've gotta start making that list and starting my plans for my gardens.... 

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Creating our own daylily cultivars - I never knew how easy it is!

I was just reading the most wonderfully informative article on daylilies in my new issue of Fine Gardening -- February 2011.  My sister in law gave me a subscription for Christmas which I thankfully (I love you, Michele!) got before Christmas!  I am enjoying my magazine so much already as it gives very down to earth and practical advice and instruction.  I just finished an article on the amazing daylily and learned there are literally thousands of cultivars.  Don't give up on the daylily if all you thought existed was the ubiquitous (and in my opinion, a little tired and dowdy) orange cultivar we all see in the heat of the summer here in New England at least.  The other cultivar that is fast gaining on the orange stalwart is the yellow Stella D'Oro that all the landscapers seem to love installing in their jobs because it is a repeat bloomer and survives our heat and humidity with ongoing color.  I love the yellow Stella D'Oro for its cheerfulness, but I am learning there are so many others just waiting to wake up our gardens.  There are luscious names like 'Blueberry Breakfast', 'Rainbow Spangles', 'Dances with Giraffes', 'Grape Twizzler' and a tangerine ruffly beauty 'Condilla', just to name a very few.  They go from short to tall, smooth edged to ruffly edged, fat petaled to skinny petaled in almost every hue imaginable.  And even though each bloom only lasts a day, the plant can have hundreds of blooms for many weeks of color in our summer gardens.  I am definitely in love and can't wait to get some new varieties in my gardens this summer.

And if all of that wasn't enough, we can all create our own cultivar so easily!  You can hybridize a daylily if you have two different cultivars.  You just remove the tip of one stamen that is pollen-laden and dab it on the sticky tip of the pistil of the second daylily flower.  Then you label the cross you made on the pistil of the flower that was pollinated with a tag that identifies it as the pollen parent.  In a few days a seadpod will form and it will take 45-60 days to ripen.  When the pod starts to change its color to a lighter green, squeeze the sides gently and harvest the seeds.  Throw away any soft seeds because they aren't viable and store the harder ones in the refrigerator for several months and up to a year before planting. 

This incredibly useful information comes from February's issue of Fine Gardening in an article written by Richard Howard, the owner of Ctdaylily in Wallingford, Connecticut.

You can also register your new cultivar for $15 with the American Hemorocallis Society online. 

I don't know about you, but I can't wait to try this with my son, my little gardener, and name our new daylily after him!