My journey began just as many of yours. I initially had no interest in
flowers in the landscape. During a trip to a garden center during the fall
and the subsequent purchase of a
single, discounted and not-blooming
H. Little Grapette daylily
started me on this journey. Planted without care and forgotten until summer and then.....a
bloom and some color. Hmmm, that's not bad I thought. A quick
internet search for "daylily" later I stumbled upon a picture of
H. Carmen Marie.
Three-hundred dollars later, it was over and the addiction had begun. The
addiction was reinforced with
Wayside Painted Lady and the first bloom of the
year starring H. Egyptian Ibis.
Over 1,000 cultivars later, I began my hybridizing journey (sound familiar to
every other daylily addict out there?). While I have yet to have a
standout for introduction, I find the peace and creativity of dabbing pollen to
be relaxing and a great time for reflection.
My hosta story begins with the purchase of a Home Improvement store baggie of 12 Fortunei Auromarginata
and the subsequent pleasing foliage that thrust forth from the ground that
spring. I soon filled every shaded corner of the
yard with hosta of every color and leaf form, the overflow filling pots
everywhere. I love the variety of colors, variegation and shapes that hosta
can provide. My personal favorites are medio-variegated hosta with a
crisp definition of colors.
My first Iris was Caesar's Brother Siberian Iris bought from an overpriced and
smaller-than-expected stock mail-order catalog. Other Siberians and
Japanese iris from mail-order soon entered my gardens, naturally followed by the
tall-bearded iris. The next spring I was hooked at first bloom of the
bearded iris. Picture below is one of my first iris.
Unfortunately it was mis-labeled by the mail-order company and thus remains
Where I am now...
Now with full gardens and an addiction to add new cultivars, I naturally
turned to selling the excess from these rapidly multiplying plants.
Learning as I go (very few large daylily growers in the Mid-Atlantic states to
visit), I have fought weed invasions (old field syndrome), mice, voles,
rust and Japanese beetles just to name a few. I now collect about 600
varieties of daylily, 100 varieties of hosta, and about 200 varieties of iris.
I am looking to reduce these numbers, concentrating on plants that truly
interest me and are hardy. My zone 7 coastal environment can be very rough
on plants having little winter snow cover and varying temperatures from freezing
to 50 degrees throughout the winter. If the plant survives with me, it can
survive in your climate!
Having been bitten by the hybridizing bug, I hope to have some introductions of
daylilies in the next few years. I am currently watching about 9,000
seedlings for "the one." I harvested over 5,000 seeds
in the 2006 season and a limited amount in 2007. In addition, I have begun
adding leading hybridizer's current-year collections. I hope
to offer them to our customers on a limited basis and to use their genetics in
my hybridizing program. I will never be able to compete with the larger
breeders down south due to my lack of space (only 1.3 acres) and my much shorter
growing season, but still I hope to introduce a few a year. I enjoy the process of
hybridization as much as the resulting blooms.
I am seriously looking at increasing my Japanese iris collection as I love the
vivid colors, huge blooms and beautiful foliage. In addition, dwarf
bearded iris continue to capture my heart. Once the shade house comes to
fruition, I would like to actively pursue recent hosta introductions at
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