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Lessons from the Greenfield Garden Club Garden Tour

The Greenfield Garden Club Garden Tour has come and gone. This was a wonderful event – even though we all had to be aware of Covid 19. We all wore our masks, including the very youngest set who had some fun on the curves of our strolling garden. Social distancing was quite well followed. There was a holiday feel about the day and I am grateful that the Greenfield Garden Club gave us this day of pleasure.

The wonderful thing about gardens is that every single one is different. The tour gave us 10 gardens, each unique, each offering something to learn.

Dotty Janke’s Garden

Dotty Janke

Dotty Janke

Dotty Janke bought her Greenfield house in 2002. She knew she wanted a beautiful garden, but wasn’t sure how to go about gardening in a 5B climate zone. She began her education by attending workshops and lectures. She read books. Hardy Trees and Shrubs by Michael Dirr, Wildflowers by William Cullina and The Well-Tended Perennial Garden by Tracy DeSabato-Aust are books that cover a lot of ground for all gardeners, novice or experienced.

She had the invasive Norway maples removed and replaced them with beautiful river birch, stewartia,  amelanchier (serviceberry) and other trees and shrubs. One side of her house is a long bank designed as a shade garden with azaleas, low bush blueberry, mayapple and ground covers like lady’s mantle with its bright green foliage and flowers.

I walked along the paths through the garden with Janke, past the burbling solar fountain til we got to a special bed that included vegetables, kale and tomatoes, with pollinator flowers. This is a reminder that we should never limit ourselves to standard arrangements. Even a small garden can include edibles as well as well as ornamentals.

Flowers and veggies in one bed – a great combo.

A gardener welcomes a rest in the shade

Mary Chicoine and Glen Ayers Garden

I have visited the Mary Chicoine-Glen Ayers garden before, but like all gardens it is ever changing. At the entry of the garden is a riot of blooming pollinator plants, coneflower, native bee balm, Culver’s root and more flowers than I can possibly name. Then we come to the serious vegetable beds. I have never seen such a beautifully organized vegetable garden. Some tomatoes climbed up twine, some lived in a plastic tunnel. Some vegetables grew in neat rows out in the sun.

Vegetables outdoors and in the hoop house

In addition there are strawberry beds, and blueberry bushes inside a wire tunnel. I thought that was a genius idea. I fought with nets for years in my blueberry patch up in Heath.

Some vegetables grow in rows outside

I asked Chicoine what they did with all those vegetables. Did they eat them all themselves, or did they give them away?  She said, “We preserve a lot of food for the winter months – canning, freezing, drying and dehydrating. We make pasta sauces, salsas, pestos, ratatouille, pickles of all sorts, jams and jellies, and dehydrate or freeze tomatoes, peppers, beans, berries, greens, etc. And we still have a lot to share as well.”

A pond in the shade for tranquility

What an inspiration! And yet, as industrious as they are, there two small ponds, and places to sit and relax in the sun. And in the shade.

Ilene Stahl’s Garden

Entry through kiwi-draped cedar lattice arbors

Ilene Stahl’s garden had surprises, too. Lilacs, azaleas and shade loving perennials bedeck and welcome visitors in front of the house. To the side of the house are beautiful kiwi draped cedar lattice arbors that mark the entrances to the main garden. Just inside one entry is a large and graceful Japanese threadleaf maple that almost fills one garden bed. Opposite that beautiful maple, and next to the door of the house, is a bed that includes herbs, flowers and vegetables Some plants are put in the cobalt blue ceramic pots that Stahl loves. This is a handy spot for the cook, who likes flowers on her dining table.

Ilene Stahl by her beautiful shady fountain



Shrubs in shades of green and gold hug the sunroom. Then a path took me further into the shade and a beautiful bubbling pond. The pond was built with the help of David Sund. I liked the cobalt blue ceramic stool (not shown) where one could sit and enjoy the gentle splash of the little waterfall. Stahl and I chatted and laughed in the shade to the music of the waterfall.

Flowers, herbs and vegetables by the back door

Peggy Pucina and Clara Lopez

Peggy Pucino and Clara Lopez have an amazing garden filled with a riotous mixture of flowers, vegetables and fruits. I was particularly enchanted by some really old fashioned pink hollyhocks. Some vegetables grow in circles, while others are set in straight lines. There are so many ways to organize a garden for ease of harvesting, or just for fun.

A merry-go-round vegetable bed

One large section of the garden includes perennial edibles like asparagus and berries. Nobody in this house is going to go hungry.

Peggy Puchino and Clara Lopez


This year’s Greenfield Garden Club Garden Tour was possibly the most well attended ever. On one hand everyone knows we have to stay away from crowds. On the other hand we all want to see a little more of the world than our back yards. We want to see different scenery, and maybe even different people. We want to see new colors and shapes. We want to have fun!

Next week I’ll give you a trip through three more of the tour gardens.

Between the Rows   July 25, 2020

“Read Until Your Heart Stops” – Book Reviews

Vegetable Gardeners Handbook

Vegetable Gardeners Handbook

Over the weekend I visited some fabulous gardens, and you will be hearing more about them soon. What surprised me about many of these gardens was the amount of vegetable gardening going on in our town. I saw small vegetable gardens, big vegetable gardens, pretty vegetable gardens, and vegetable gardens in hoop houses. Wow!

I also have a very small vegetable garden this year, only 10 x 8 feet. This garden was prompted by the pandemic which has given me time on my hands. I am familiar with vegetable gardens after life in Heath, but after six years being away from vegetable gardens I have forgotten some of the important tasks.

After having harvested some mesclun, bok choi, and bibb lettuce I am now at a loss of what to do with those empty spaces and lots of summer and vegetable season left.

Fortunately I now have the Old Farmer’s Almanac Vegetable Gardener’s Handbook (Yankee Publishing $14.95) to help me through the rest of the growing season. There is information for new gardeners, and information about different kinds of growing spaces from beds on top of the ground, strawbale gardens, no-till beds, and many kinds of container gardens. There are also pages designed to help you keep records of your seed starting, plant companions, herbs planted, disease and pest records, fertilizing records, seed saving records and more. An important section on Growing Concerns give us tips on fighting diseases and pests as well as crop rotation and indoor gardening. Those Old Farmers haven’t forgotten anything.

The rest of the book is devoted to information about growing 30 vegetables from asparagus to turnips. I’m paying particular attention to the When to Plant pages. I have harvested lettuces, bok choi and peas. With bare spaces in my tiny garden I am now calculating when I can begin a second planting. I see possibilities of harvesting carrots which can stand the first frosts, beets and beet greens, and Swiss chard, as well as my potted tomatoes.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac Vegetable Gardener’s Handbook is an excellent and useful book for a new gardener, and for a gardener like myself who needs to brush up.

Farmer's Almanac for Kids

Farmer’s Almanac for Kids

I have also been reading the Old Farmer’s Almanac for Kids ($9.95) which will give lots of pleasure to kids and adults. The book begins with interesting facts about each month of the year. Did you know that January 19 is National Popcorn  Day or that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on  the moon July 20, 1969 and left only two and a half hours later after exploring, or that August 4 is Coast Guard Day?

This Almanac has great information about the planet Uranus, what it would be like if you could go right through the center of the earth to China, and everything you want to know about the bald eagle. I never knew that bald eagles have about 7000 feathers, and love to catch fish and eat them.

Of course, there are things for kids to do in this book. There are recipes for refrigerator pickles, yogurt, butter, ricotta cheese, and, in the winter, snow ice cream. There are games, goats, chickens, wild animals, and weather mysteries. There are also stories about inspiring kids!

As a former librarian, and a sometimes reader to first graders, I want to add that bright and engaging books like this benefit children by keeping them reading. With the world in turmoil we don’t even know if our children will be in school this fall. Maybe they will be in television-school where all their lessons will come through the TV/computer. School this September will very likely not be anything like school last September, but nobody knows yet what it will be like. Providing encouragement to children to read, and to learn about our amazing world is a great gift.

While I was the Buckland Library librarian I read to children at the Buckland recreation summer day camp every Friday at noon while the children had their lunch. Children from 5 to 12 attended so it was tricky choosing engaging books for all, but I found that picture books about male and female sports heroes, folk tales, facts about creatures of the deep, and insects interested just about everyone.

Reading to the campers was a great joy. I decided we needed a ritual to end the time we had together and I made up a closing motto – whatever you do keep reading! I made the kids shout it out. That motto was transformed when I was reading to a Buckland- Shelburne school classroom. I was preparing to leave after reading a Chinese Monkey King story when one of the third graders looked hurt that I hadn’t asked them to give the motto. Of course I asked her to give it to us. She then got worried but slowly said “ Read . . . until. . . your heart stops.” The teacher and I laughed, but the motto was transformed . Cynthia Fisher’s beautiful mosaic at the Buckland Library clearly states Read Until Your Heart Stops!

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed all our lives. Happily we can obey all the rules, and turn to our gardens and our books for pleasure and learning.###

Between the Rows  July 18, 2020

History of Our Semi-Natural Garden

Stroll garden path

My husband Henry on a stroll path preparing for garden tour

The Greenfield Garden Club is holding its Garden Tour today July 12 – and my garden is one of the ten that will be showing off all kinds of flowers, shrubbery, and trees.  I am very excited, and I have been thinking about whether a garden is a natural thing. Or is it a construction?

Our small garden is celebrating its fifth birthday. This was a very new experience for us. In Heath we had acres and acres. In 1980 I was passionate about vegetables. We plowed up a too-big vegetable garden and thus began our adventure of joyfully making mistakes. We planted here, we planted there. We planted everywhere we had a plant and an empty spot. We looked beyond our garden, such as it was, to the wild fields that circled us. This was no longer a natural space, but neither was it skillfully contrived.

In May of 2015 this is where the garden began. We have not yet learned the full extent of flooding

Our backyard in Greenfield, was not large, about 66 by 80 feet. The minute we signed the documents that made the house ours, we started planning what we wanted to do with that blank space. First we took into account the limits of the space, and my age. I was 75 and no longer gung ho about spending hours and hours trying to make a welcoming and beautiful space. My husband made his demand that he would never mow another lawn.

I was beyond putting plants here and there, but unsure of how to make a plan. Happily I had recently been on a Garden Bloggers Tour and met Julie Moir Messervy, a skilled and wonderful garden designer whose business was just starting to have an on-line arm. She asked me if I would like her to use my garden as an example. Yes! I said. I gave her lots of information about the site and our desires, and limitations. She gave us The Plan.

We took the plan out in the backyard and looked around. We looked at the plan. We looked at the expanse of grass. We gasped.

We laughed. We went back in the house and had tea and cookies. This was going to take work, even with a professional plan. To let our neighbors know we were friendly gardeners we created a flowery hell-strip for  the pollinators.

In 2016 we were understanding the breadth of flooding

We could never complete our plan in one season, but we began by planting three panicle hydrangeas, a lilac and seven roses, and plants we brought from Heath. The South Shrub Border was begun.  We also planted a River birch. Shade was needed.

By the end of 2016 we could see the beginnings of the essential beds that would give us our Stroll Garden.

By the end of 2016 we also knew a lot about the drawbacks of our garden. It was very wet. The soil was dense. A neighbor told us our yard, and others on our side of the street, were at the edge of the Pray Brickworks. That explained why a shovelful of our soil looked like wet cement. We have been helping keep Martin’s Compost Farm in business ever since we got our first load of compo-soil in 2015.

Hugel logs are in place

One year after beginning beds are planted, and the hugel logs are in place

We were using Julie Moir Messervy’s plan to a great degree. However, because we were not knowledgeable about the site ourselves we never told her about the quality of the soil and the regular floods. We met those challenges by making raised beds. We also begged all our Heath friends for old logs. We decided a hugel would help manage the water.

Hugel is a permaculture term. First we had a low stone wall built. We took all those collected logs and put them at the wet back of the yard. Then we covered those logs with eight yards of Martin’s soil. Those logs do soak up the water in that wet space. We then planted ground covers and small shrubs on our hugel.

stroll garden in June 2019

June 2019 and the stroll garden is nearly done.

The grass in front of the hugel was not handsome. It looked forgotten. Our friend Walt Cudnohufsky suggested a pea stone ‘patio.’ With a garden table and umbrella we now feel very cosmopolitan.

In May 2020 we can see the peastone patio, table and umbrella.  Time to plant annuals.

Spring would not be spring if new plants weren’t added. This year we added five new roses, Lady of Shallot, Gruss an Aachen, Quietness, Carefree Beauty. I have already mislaid  the name  of the fifth rose. No matter. We now have a mini-rose walk.

The raised beds got larger and larger, planted with shrubs and perennials that would attract pollinators and birds. In some sense we can now say the garden is finished. Of course, a garden is never finished. There is a saying about garden plants, the first year they sleep, the second year they creep and the third year they leap. We are in the leaping stage. Riotous growth! Pruning! Some plants need to be divided and moved. Some plants need to be removed.

Our garden is not natural. But like any natural landscape it changes from year to year because of wind, weather and plant growth or decline. Because we love Mother Nature we have included many native plants, the kind of plants that will support the butterflies, bees and other insects, and birds that are a part of the natural world.

We are looking forward to sharing our garden on the Greenfield Garden Club Tour today. Masks and social distancing are in order. Tickets, $10,  including the map are being sold at the John Zon Community Center from 9:30 to 1 p.m. Tour ends at 4 p.m.###

Between the Rows  July 11, 2020

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day – July 15, 2020


Delphiniums  on Bloom Day

I don’t know how we got to July already this year, but here we are at Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day on July 15, 2020. These two delphiniums are the last standing plants, helped  a little bit by the wiggly stakes. If you are going to grow delphiniums you need stakes and pray for gentle rains, not torrents. That is  a  wonderful Lonicera, honeysuckle, behind the delphiniums.

Coreopsis, coneflowers and Blue Paradise phlox

Coreopsis, echinacea and Blue Paradise phlox

Here we are with three kinds of flower living happily with each other.

Aesclepius, physostogeia, and zinnias

Aesclepius, zinnias, and obedient plant

I’m always happy to see a neighborhood of friendly plants. Pretty soon the cardinal flowers will be joining them.

Pink daylilies

Pink daylilies

I have lots of daylilies in bloom and I will not show all of them. I like having all the different colors and forms as well as the fact that some of them are bloom into the fall.

Orange daylily

Orange daylily – don’t ask me about names for any of the daylilies.

frilly daylily

Another frilly daylily



The raspberries aren’t bloomers, but I am  so happy with my raspberry patch. I have picked almost a quart every day for the past five days. Delicious!  I wish I knew the names of the varieties. Long forgotten. Thank you Nourse berry farm.

And thank you Carol over at May Dreams Gardens. With Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day you have  given us all the gift of visiting beautiful gardens  across the country every month.



Cecropia Moth – Largest Native Moth in North America

female Cecropia moth

Female Cecropia moth

The Greenfield Garden Club Garden Tour has been postponed to Sunday, July 12, 2020 due to the weather. Tickets and maps for the tour, $10, are available Sunday morning from 8:30am  to 1 pm at the John Zon Community Center on Pleasant Street. Ten beautiful gardens will be on display. Hope to see you  there  with  your masks. Social distancing required.

The importance of pollinators in our own gardens, and in public gardens like those at the Energy Park and the John Zon Community Center cannot be over estimated. Pollinators are vital to a healthy environment. However, I am now learning about a beautiful moth, Hyalophora cecropia, that is not a pollinator.

The Cecropia moth is the largest native moth in North America. It is a member of the giant silk moth Saturniidae family. They get their name from the silkiness of their cocoons. Like many creatures they are endangered; it is important that we all become aware of the importance of protecting native creatures, and plants.

Cecropia eggs

This year’s Cecropia eggs

I was introduced to these beautiful moths by my friend Susan. She has an expert, Cecropia-loving friend who mailed her approximately 25 Cecropia eggs in late May of 2019. Most of those eggs hatched and the tiny caterpillars began the cycle of eating apple leaves from a tree in Susan’s yard and growing through five stages of development called instars.  I was fascinated when Susan told me Cecropia caterpillars are called ‘gregarious’. “Sometimes three to five caterpillars may feed closely on the underside of a leaf.  They seem to seek each other, to be close to each other,” she said.

Cecropia caterpillars

Cecropia caterpillars are sometimes ‘gregarious’

She invited me to visit with my husband this June. We started at the wood, screen and hardware cloth box that her son made. The box was built to keep the caterpillars safe from predators. We saw several branches with cocoons that were attached to the inside of the box. I was confused because I thought the cocoons were dried leaves because of their irregular shape and  color. They had been there all winter. The Cecropia moths were hatching, a few every day – first the males, mostly, and then the females. Male moths emerge in the morning and early afternoon and by dusk are ready to take flight. One cocoon had just hatched and we saw the new Cecropia moth pumping up its wings.

Cecropia caterpillars

Two Cecropia caterpillars at two stages, instars, of development

Susan explained that in the fall Cecropias go into the cocoon phase which is called diaphase. Inside the cocoon, which is constructed to hold on a thin branch or other support. A change occurs that morphs the caterpillar in a pupa. The cocoon, which has three layers, protects the future moth from the brutal temperature and weather (winds and ice) of winter!

One cocoon had just hatched and we saw the new Cecropia moth. I had never seen a Cecropia which has such beautiful and unusual coloring of white and gray and reddish brown.  I was surprised by how fuzzy it seemed.

One pair of Cecropia moths are mating while another female is waiting below. Look closely to see their body parts touching.

Then we went to her special hardware cloth mating cage and saw a female moth. Susan said the females are docile. “They will emerge from the cocoon, pump up their wings, and wait patiently for a male, sometimes for more than a day.” The female moth’s pheromones, emanating from a retractable protrusion at the end of her abdomen during the dark hours from dusk to dawn, attract a male who fertilizes her eggs. Males have large antennae that sense pheromones. Males usually arrive near dusk or before dawn. When they arrive they connect onto a female for up to 24 hours and then they will leave.”

This Cecropia moth died in its cocoon.

By mid-August, each caterpillar reaches a point where it finishes eating plant material and starts to construct a cocoon from which it will emerge as a moth the following  spring. The sole purpose of the adult stage is to mate and lay eggs. Adult moths cannot eat, so if a bird doesn’t scoop them up, they will die within two weeks.

Susan is very aware of her surroundings, the plants she tends and the creatures that visit her garden. She does not use chemicals of any kind. She mentioned that other caterpillars, such as black swallowtails, may be found on parsley and dill in the garden, but they do little damage and should not be killed. I understand her reminder. Swallowtail butterflies are so beautiful that I have always been willing to share my parsley and dill with their caterpillar form.

Since people are becoming more interested in pollinator plants and pollinator insects I think we will become more aware of the benefits and the beauty that that many insects bring to our gardens, and to our environment.


Cecropia moth, 3rd instar

Third instar – the caterpillar is shedding it’s skin and eating it.

Cecropia caterpillars

Cecropia caterpillars

Photo of the Cecropia moth with a clear view of its body

Between the Rows  July 4, 2020

Prepared for Greenfield Garden Club Garden Tour Sunday, July 12

Folksinger Rose

Folksinger, a Dr. Griffith Buck rose

The Garden Tour has been postponed to Sunday, July 12. It is almost time for the Greenfield Garden Club Garden Tour. My garden is one of ten that will be on display.  My garden has roses, just beginning to enjoy their second blooming.  I wish I could tell the Fairy rose buds from those that need to be deadheaded.

Red and yellow daylily

Currently nameless, this red and yellow daylily is ready for the tour

I love daylilies because they have such a long bloom season. I have daylilies with lots of different colors and forms.

Aesclepius tuberosa

Aesclelpius tuberosa – milkweed

Aescleipius tuberosa is just one of the plants that attract pollinators like bees and other insects.

Phlox is a quintessential garden flower. I love  this shade of blue.

The Greenfield Garden Club Garden Tour will be held Sunday, July 12.  Tickets, $10. The ticket is a map with directions to the ten gardens that will be available at the John Zon Community Center on Pleasant Street at 8:30 am until 1 pm. The tour will end at 4 pm. The tour is being held be held on Sunday. Masks and social distancing essential.

Writing Wild and Braiding Sweetgrass – Book Reviews

Writing Wild by Kathryn AAlto

Writing Wild: Women Poets, Ramblers, and Mavericks Who Shape How We See the Natural World by Kathryn Aalto

WRITING WILD by Kathryn Aalto

Writing Wild is the thrilling and inviting title of Kathryn Aalto’s book about 25 Women Poets, Ramblers, and Mavericks Who Shape How We See the Natural World (Timber Press $24.95). She begins with Dorothy Wordsworth, sister of poet William Wordsworth, who succinctly described herself as a “mountaineer, diarist, poet.”

This first section sets up the design of the book. First there is a bit of unexpected (in many cases) biography focusing in some way on the natural world, then an additional list of women who have similar interests. Wordsworth called herself a mountaineer; other mountain lovers were British Dorothy Pilley (1894-1986), Helen Mort who is described as “a dazzling British poet” who has won many awards; and the more familiar Cheryl Strayed who wrote Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail.                       

Other writers come at the natural world in different ways, some familiar and some not. Susan Fenimore Cooper beat Henry David Thoreau by four years in writing the first  book of American nature in 1850. That book, Rural Hours, has recently been incorporated in a book of her writing, Susan Fenimore Cooper: New Essays on “Rural Hours” and Other Works. Surprisingly, that book is published and for sale in England.

I am familiar with many of the women portrayed including Rachel Carson, Mary Oliver, Annie Dillard, Rebecca Solnit, and Andrea Wulf. I love Wulf’s engaging books, The Brother Gardeners, and The Founding Gardeners: the Revolutionary Generation, Nature and the Shaping of the American Nation. The founding gardeners are our first four presidents.

I was not familiar with Carolyn Merchant, ecofeminist philosopher and science historian. I was not familiar with Lauret Savoy who lives nearby and teaches at Mount Holyoke College. Her book is Trace: Memory, History, Race and the American Landscape.

I was not familiar with Robin Wall Kimmerer, a botananist and professor of plant ecology whose new book Braiding Sweetgrass was just published. But more about that later. I will be learning more about all these fascinating women.

Writing Wild is just full of tempting bits of poetry, of literary biographies, and travel essays. I suspect it will send many readers back to the bookshelves to read Elizabeth Rush’s book Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore, or Helen MacDonald’s book H is for Hawk.

Just as these women have gone from insight to insight, to new understandings, we are going to be sent from writer to writer.

Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Braiding Sweetgrass

Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer

In fact, I went from this book to Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants (Milkweed editions ($18. paper) by Robin Wall Kimmerer, botanist and professor of plant ecology. She is the SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor of Environmental Biology. She is also the founder and director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment.

Like many of her indigenous people, Kimmerer did not grow up speaking the Potawatomi language, or learning all the stories of the plants that her people used in so many ways. Now she is able to share the stories with us, stories about the reciprocity between plants and people.

Her love of plants began when she was just a child. She filled shoeboxes of seeds and pressed leaves for identification. She was looking to identify plants and their habitats. She thought she was ready when she applied for the forestry department at college. There she learned that what she knew about plants, was not what the college wanted her to know. And so she studied the college way, earned a PhD and began to work at the college. But she came to learn more through her own curiosity, the stories of her people, and the ways that plants work with each other.

Kimmerer shares her stories with us, and gives whole new views of what plants give, and what the plants need from us.

I am entranced by the stories she tells us about why and how the Maples gave the people sap to turn to sugar, to keep them from starving in the early spring. I am as stunned to learn that sweetgrass survives better if it is harvested, while leaving half. If people think they need to leave whole patches without taking any harvest, that sweetgrass will fail. Gifts of nature are given in many ways, and we need to learn to understand what is required in turn, if we are going to make our world healthy.

Kimmerer explains some of the mysteries of plants, the gifts they give us and what we owe. She gives us scientific facts, but it is almost like reading poetry. The Allegiance to Gratitude chapter has given me a lot to think about as I work in my garden, and in my everyday life.

Every page of this book brings us to intriguing lessons of how the natural world works. We need those lessons as our planet is becoming warmer, as storms become more violent, as the air has become polluted, as water needs more protections.

Kimmerer is an amazing teacher who is much needed, and it is a joy to be her student.

Between the Rows   June 17, 2020

Olallie Daylily Farm in South Newfane, Vermont.

Olallie Lass daylily

Olallie Lass, a daylily hybridized by Dr. Darrow

Just in this past week my daylilies have begun to bloom. Years and years ago I never paid attention to daylilies, which I never seemed to even notice beyond roadside orange daylilies. But daylilies have an amazing history and have gotten more various and beautiful over the  last hundred years.


Un-named daylily

Daylilies originated in Asia over 400 years ago; the orange daylilies we all recognize. Then they started travelling through Europe beginning in  the 1800s. They even made their way to the United States.  Dr. Arlow Burdette Stout (1856-1957) born in Wisconsin taught botany at the University of Wisconsin. In 1911 he moved to New York and became the Director of Laboratories at the New York Botanical Garden. During his years there he hybridized about 100 new daylilies. He also wrote the book Daylilies which was considered the essential and necessary book on growing daylilies. This was the beginning of the love of daylilies in gardens.

Pink ruffles daylily

Pink Ruffles daylily from Stone Hill daylily gardens

I finally started paying closer attention to daylilies when a friend took me to the Ollalie Daylily Farm in South Newfane many years ago. This daylily farm  has an extensive number of daylilies, some created by Dr. George Darrow who started hybridizing daylilies in his retirement. In 1979 he had his son and grandson, Dan and Christopher Darrow, start moving pieces of his daylilies to South Newfane, Vermont. Christopher has now hybridized daylilies as well.

The farm was named Olallie North in honor of Dr. Darrow’s farm in Maryland opened officially in 1993. Ollalie North is a beautiful place to visit. If you are there in season you can also buy some Darrow blueberries.

Olallie daylily farm

Olallie Daylily Farm fields in South Newfane, Vermont

I have a hard time keeping track of my daylilies’ names. I do know that Ollalie Lass is correctly named, as is Pink Ruffles which I bought a couple of years ago at the gorgeous Stone Meadow Gardens in Ashfield. 

A trip to the paint store with a Stella d’Oro daylilly in hand –   and this is the result

For more information about daylilies visit the American Daylily Society.