This year has been different concerning the daylilies, Hemerocallis ssp., though. There has been regular and abundant rainfall, for one and more importantly, the yearly family beach vacation that usually involves the last half of June has been rescheduled for later in the summer. That means we are at home to enjoy and make note of the Fairegarden peak daylily bloom time. Yippeee!
Shopping for yet more daylilies, there are already well over one hundred different cultivars growing here, was not on the to do list. (The names and photos for most can be seen by clicking on the side bar list of pages titled Plants We Grow-Daylilies, or click here.) But when sweet offspring Semi wanted to go visit, her third time there, a newly discovered daylily farm out in the country north of Knoxville, Tennessee, I had to go along. Just to look.
The trip was made to Granny’s Gardens early on a Saturday morning, the place opened at 9 AM. It was still cool and moisty and the sun was shining brightly. Granny herself, Mary Anderson who runs and maintains the farm along with her husband Steve, seen to the left doing some pruning, came over to greet us and give us a lift in the golf cart to the growing fields.
The flowers were at peak, she told us, with more varieties in bloom at one time than there would be for the rest of the year. They were dazzling! “Just looking” was tossed by the wayside as we were handed small clipboards containing blank invoices and a pencil on which to write down our choices by row number and name. After the final decisions were made, Granny would write each name and row on a plastic grocery bag then go dig the clumps.
Up and down the rows we went, writing down our favorites. If there was but a single clump in the row, it could not be sold at this time, for she needed it to keep her stock going. All clumps were priced the same, a ridiculously low $4. Extras, those divisions beyond the five or so in each row were for sale for $2 a clump. Tubs of those with missing names and extra seedlings from their own crosses were free for the taking.
Sitting under the canopy while our selections were dug, Steve explained that the farm had been in his family for nearly one hundred years and had started out as a tobacco allotment back in the 1920s by his grandfather. Granny, his wife Mary was a gardening hobbyist with a love for daylilies and iris, which she sells in the spring. When Steve retired, he told her that there would be no more funds available for buying more daylilies. Mary was ready with the answer that she would make a little business selling her beloved plants to pay for mulch and manure and maybe a few more new cultivars. That is how Granny’s Gardens came to be. It is hard work in the heat of summer, I know. On sales days, Friday and Saturday or by appointment for other days, she spends three hours deadheading the multitudes so the plants look their prettiest for the customers. Pretty they were and the whole farm was meticulously cared for.
Mary and Steve were most delightful, friendly and generous. We talked about legendary local daylily breeders, Hazel and Everett Dougherty, deceased, and about making crosses ourselves, something I experimented with in 2009, the story can be read by clicking here. Above photo taken June 21, 2010 when the babies were planted into the ground in a grid of five rows of three.
Those seedlings are blooming size now. They are all similar in color, but not exactly the same. Some are taller and more vigorous growers, some are so beautiful it brings tears to my eyes. None can be discarded for they are all my babies!
It was a most pleasant jaunt and Semi and I each bought several new daylilies which we will share with each other as we have always done over the years. Shown above is Beautiful Edgings from daughter Semi, originally from Champion Daylilies.
Summer Wind, Victorian Princess, Butterscotch Ruffles, Grand Amazon, Grecian Sands, a Hazel Dougherty unnamed seedling, one of Granny’s seedlings, yellow with faint wine eyes and shown above, Brown Witch.
Granny’s Gardens, owner Mary Anderson, is located at 517 Raccoon Valley Road, Powell, TN 37849, phone (865) 945-2890. Open during daylily season on Fridays and Saturdays. Call for more information. Bring cash.