Sunday, August 19, 2007

Planting Daylilies

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Another Sunday and another week of summer has slipped away. Vermont summers are too short anyway but this one seems to be escaping because we have so many projects going on. A week from today Alex will be 15 years old. It seems like just yesterday that he and Gail came home from the hospital. It seems like centuries ago that we learned he was on the autism spectrum. Our gardening experiences and life experiences have changed a great deal in recent years and moving the gardens to Route 2 is another important part.

As I work on the new property, I continue to meet more and more people who just can't avoid the curiosity anymore. They have to stop and ask what's going on. These are people from all walks of life and not just local people but even folks on vacation in the area visiting their friends or staying at inns or bed and breakfasts. It always seems a little time consuming when I'm in the middle of a project but I've never had less than an enjoyable conversation and a nice smile at departure.

Yesterday I was standing on the ladder pulling the fence tight on the village side of the land. I almost fell off the ladder in surprise when a woman said "Nice fence, tell me about it." Route 2 was busy but she had one of those hybrid cars I think--the kind that are soundless in electric mode. When it was all over I recalled reading an article about how blind and visually impaired residents of New York City were complaining because they were crossing right in front of these cars because they couldn't hear them. I know exactly what they are saying as a neighbor has one and more than once I have almost turned around at the mailbox with a handful of mail to be run over by my own neighbor sliding in to retrieve his mail. Anyway, the woman had been watching my work since spring and was at odds with deer eating her garden. She wanted to know about the fence as it appeared to match her need to enjoy her gardens, not feed the deer.

Work is going well on Route 2 if a one man show is what you want to see. I still have about 20 yards of manure to spread, more gardens to rototill and some more fence to tighten but all in all we are very pleased with our progress. I have learned more than I thought about estimating job completion time and Thursday was a good example. I had purchased two 14 foot farm gates to install at the entry way from Route 2. We have to be able to close off the business when we aren't there and also prevent people from using the front of the entrance as a turn around which wouldn't be safe or legal. I also bought a couple 6 X6 X 8 foot timbers and screwed on a pressure treated plank on the interior sides for more support.

I figured I could have the job finished by about 1 PM. That meant measuring out the distances, centering the proposed gates, digging the holes, leveling the timbers and then pouring 4 bags of cement in each hole. For a variety of reasons I never thought of, the job finished up about the time the last local folks drove by after leaving work in Barre Montpelier. It was a long day. Projects are often like that but if they are done correctly, the dividend is there for time to come.

Gail and I have had long discussions about how and what to plant. Daylilies has been a big topic. We have well over 400 varieties but last night we narrowed the list down to a little over 300 varieties that we will move. We have ruled out those that don't sell knowing that how we will display and sell them at the new property may sell more or less of certain varieties. Our plan is to display a large, mature clump and then line out the plants that are for sale behind the display plant. Here on the hill we have always sold daylilies in gallon pots but we're going to grow them in the field under 24 hour drip irrigation. That means the whole concept changes. The purpose is to grow a larger plant while saving the cost of pots, soilless mix and labor. Olallies in South Newfane Vermont and many other big daylily nurseries do it this way and we'll try too. At the same time, all the daylilies will be in bloom longer and the display plants in close proximity to those for sale will show what the person is likely to have in their garden in a couple-three years.

I have started to prepare a 10 foot wide garden around the entire perimeter of the land. This will be a big garden and is a lot of work. In the roadside, western corner of the land, a three foot culvert crosses Route 2 and drops lots of water on the adjacent property at different times of the year. Some of the water leaches underground to ours and that corner is often damp. It will be an excellent place for all the bee balms, Siberian and Japanese irises and the water loving plants such as the ligularias and rodgersias.

The monardas are not Gail's favorites and she'll tell you that. She has been persistent that if we don't sell it, it shouldn't be on display at our new location. In contrast, I like plants which people don't have an opportunity to see around here. I think plants that are grown well, look a lot better than a catalog picture so why not do a little to show folks what else is out there. After many discussions, Gail has agreed to large (and I mean large) swathes of monardas in the lower corner to bring attention to the project. I'm happy she changed her thinking because many gardeners are looking for a plant to cover an unsightly area and bring color, bees and butterflies at the same time. I think you'll enjoy it too so keep an eye on that corner.

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where last night's low was 41 degrees and today's high will only be in the mid sixties. Just the same the colors prevail and warm summer days will return soon. Daylily Days continue at VFF so stop by and see some great color and save $2 on any daylily and $1 on any hosta. Gail has specials squirreled away here and there and if you don't stop by you'll never know what bargains she has.

With August garden greetings, enjoy today!

George Africa

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