Dealing With The Daylily Hill-It Is Imperative

april-3-2008-002-21The word imperative was used in the post about cutting down the Muhlenbergia capillaris. There was good reason to refer to that seasonal chore as an imperative. An online dictionary defines this term as something that demands attention or action; an unavoidable obligation or requirement; a necessity. It is the bulbs emerging that demand the cutting of grasses and other spent flower stalks now. Like Tulipa clusiana ‘Lady Jane’ shown here on April 3, 2008.january-4-2008-005-2Besides, these brown stalks are getting quite tired looking. The birds have picked the seed heads clean. The time has come for the gardener to crawl around with felcos in hand and level the playing field on the daylily hill. This garden bed is the main view from the lower deck. It is home to the majority of the daylilies, hence the name. There have been some design changes done to improve the flow from summer to fall. Click here to read that story.april-3-2008-004-2Looking down from the top of the daylily hill we see those imperative bulbs again, also on April 3. Tulips, hyacinths, daffodils and muscari dot the slope among the hellebores and Spiraea ‘Magic Carpet’.june-4-2008-008-2Late spring shows the LA hybrid Lilium ‘Royal Fantasy’ beginning their show along the path edge. Other asiatic, oriental and orienpet lilies will join the fun soon. september-7-2008-082-2By September the sedums, phlox, echinceas and many others carry the program.january-4-2008-after-001-2Those later blooms are still standing on the hill. Or should we say were standing. The task is completed and may be checked off the list. I just love checking things off the list too. The bulbs can now safely grow taller without the booted lady stomping on their faire heads. All good.october-29-2008-004-2It was such a nice day that another cutting job was done as well, the Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’ was cut to about a foot tall. It had plenty of green blades showing so we didn’t cut too short, although it would not have damaged anything if it had been.january-4-2008-after-013-2Looking at the photo, maybe it should have been cut shorter. Nah, it will perk up soon. More lavender twigs have been stuck into the earth at the front, Verbena bonariensis has been spread throughout from plants that had self sown in the gravel paths. This bed that used to be the driveway of the house next door that was torn down to build the garage is looking more full than ever. Many types of blue tall asters were added last fall to the wild white ones that have seeded in this bed for more color and fullness. There are no bulbs being imperative in here though. The smallest hole to plant anything requires a pickaxe to do the digging in the car compacted gravel. It is truly a wonder that anything grows here at all, but those plants that love rocky, sunny spots are making it a garden finally. Dianthus, penstemons, blue fescue, catmint, ice plant, salvia greggii join the Karl F., lavender and rosemary. Blue oat grass, Helictotrichon sempervirens, is doing especially well. That might be one in the lower right corner of this photo. They look so similar to the blue fescue, but are a little taller and don’t get so overgrown quickly like the fescue does. But for everblue weed control, the fescue is the first choice. It can be, in fact it needs to be divided ruthlessly. It is used here to fill a bed until a design plan enters our dreams as we sleep, the preferred method of garden creativity.january-4-2008-after-007-2Just to show that all is not gray and dreary here, Hamamelis ‘Diane’ has opened a few more furry buds to cheer us as we work. Much appreciated, my dear.

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33 Responses to Dealing With The Daylily Hill-It Is Imperative

  1. Darla says:

    You must have a journal somewhere to keep up with all you have planted Frances! I am truly amazed and dream of watching everyone’s gardens green up this spring as well as my own!!

    Hi Darla, thanks for thinking I am that good at record keeping. The fact is that I was just in that space working so can recall what was there. I do try to write down when a new plant is purchased and where it goes, but after that, who can remember unless I am standing there looking at it! Things get moved way too much to keep track of the where, I am mainly interested in keeping track of the what. I am working on making lists of the names slowly but surely, emphasis on the slowly, to have on a page on the blog. It will take the rest of my life to get that up to speed, but remember, it’s the journey, not the destination that counts!

  2. I’m getting to know your gardens through your wonderful descriptions and images… and imagery.

    My daylilies are protected from critters by being in the cottage garden. I cleaned up the foliage back in November and they have already emerged with green leaves. The cottage garden is about a zone warmer than my outer gardens.


    Hi Cameron, thanks for becoming acquainted with the gardens. It may seem confusing since the whole cannot be seen from anyplace on the property so they are divided into named areas for my own record keeping. I was trying out the Semi Piet school of do nothing to clean up last fall, but now have abandoned that. Of course daughter Semi is doing her usual zero clean up and everything grows well anyway. It says more about our personalities than our gardening abilities! πŸ™‚

  3. Marnie says:

    Frances, what a lovely tulip. I have to add that one to my list of bulbs for this fall;) It must be one of the early bloomers?

    Hi Marnie, it is one of my favorites. It is a species type and very hardy. Jane was my dear mother in law’s name, so we always buy plants with that name if we can. It blooms with the first of the tulips here, early April. It certainly is worth searching out.

  4. nancybond says:

    Oh my, that Hamamelis is stunning! I love that color combination. What a pleasure to be strolling through your garden again after a short absence. πŸ™‚ It almost makes me feel like April, and those tulips, aren’t so far away.

    Hi Nancy, thanks, so nice to see you. The garden is beginning to come alive, but mostly is still brown and gray, oops, the gray is the sky, we haven’t seen the sun in a while! Even though it is a couple of months before bloom time, just seeing the foliage poking out of the ground reminds us of the glory to come!

  5. Rose says:

    Frances, at first glance–without the benefit of the first cup of coffee–I thought you had tulips blooming now! I can see why you want to cut down the grasses to be able to view those beautiful tulips when they do emerge. Here there is nothing imperative to do right now–it is a waiting game until March when there will be many imperative chores to do!

    Hi Rose, I wish there were tulips blooming now, but they will be soon enough. I have decided that January has become March here, the weather and seasons seem a little out of whack!

  6. Sylvia (England) says:

    Frances, I do want your Muhlenbergia capillaris but it seems to be hard to find in the UK. One day… I have some cutting down to do before the spring bulbs get too advanced, once Christmas is over there always seems to be more jobs to do in the garden than time!

    Best wishes Sylvia (England)

    Hi Sylvia, it isn’t that easy to find here in TN either. Maybe in Texas it is more often offered at nurseries. We find that suddenly we are behind on garden chores as soon as the holidays are over! I have put your iris ung. on my want list, it is lovely!

  7. Dave says:

    I need to get out there and do the same to our grasses. I tend to wait a little longer but there may be quite a few blades of green coming up due to our strange winter weather. Looking back at your older pictures really makes me wish spring were much closer than it is!

    Hi Dave, I have waited longer, until March 1 in the past, but the green is showing and so are the bulbs so now is the time to cut, for me anyway. I love looking at the spring pictures, but then looking at the same spot outside right now, it’s hard to imagine the transformation that will be taking place soon, or is already.

  8. LOL! Frances, I do believe you have coined a new garden-related phrase. Just as “indeterminate tomato” has its own special meaning, now we have the “imperative bulb!”

    Well done. πŸ˜‰

    Oh thank you Susan, I was hoping you would not be offended. I had to look up the meaning in the dictionary after your comment and it got me thinking about how the bulbs wait for no one!

    You are in my thoughts.


  9. tina says:

    I love it when you post housekeeping posts. They help me to know-it is time! I remember your hellebore posting this past year and I was just out there trimming them up-thanks to that post. Now I guess I better go cut those grasses. Not relishing that one at all. Can you guess what my plant of the month is this month?? Shhhhh!

    Hi Tina, you might be the only one who wants to see my housekeeping posts, HA! I was looking to see when the hellebores were cut last year, the post was January 19, so it was probably the day before that. There is a lot going on just at the surface in the garden now, it is not noticeable in the long view, but when you get down low, green and worms and soft moist soil are rejoicing at the longer days.

  10. Gail says:

    Dear Frances, I love Lady Jane tulips! They are regal. Diane looks spectacularly like small crape paper flowers, that might not be the right description…but they are so colorful a flower. Mine is still not blooming, but the H vernalis is opening up. The evergreen background is a good foil for the garden flowers…(note to self~~Must move the smaller junipers to the boundary!) Yep, it’s time to trim the grasses, we get new growth so early here. Have a delicious day…I am off to find more bulbs for the GOBN, someone has hinted I get more! Gail

    Hi Gail, aren’t they wonderful? Of course like all the tulips they look much more elegant closed than when they are fully open letting it all hang out! I am going to look for more witch hazels too, I would like to have the vernalis also. The bulbs are really marked down right now, I bought some more tulips this weekend and put them in one of the large planters, with chickenwire on top to keep the squirrels out of course. πŸ™‚

  11. walk2write says:

    I’m glad you are keeping us up to date on that “Diane,” Frances. Its Joseph’s coat of colors cheers me up every time I see it. I don’t have any large grasses to trim here. I’ve been afraid to try any after growing Miscanthus in the midwest and seeing how rapidly it can spread there with hard freezes to keep it somewhat in check. The muhly and Karl F. might be good choices, though.

    Hi W2W, thanks. No miscanthus here, but the Pennisetum ‘Moudry’ is a terror about reseeding. That area with the liriope will be mowed soon. Karl F. is the single most useful tall grass I have found yet. It is well behaved, stands up straight and very drought hardy. The muhly can get a little more floppy about now, but the pink flowers make up for that sin. Both would be great in your garden. And thanks so much for showing The Psalm of Life. I have copied it to keep in my files.

  12. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Hi Frances. I am excited that you can get out there and do so much now. It makes me want to get out and do some more in the garden. Everything is fairly frozen right now. We went to 50 something to 20 last night. Brrrrrrrrrrr

    Hi Lisa, brrrrrrrr is right! We go up and down too here. I dash out when it is fairly dry and warm and do whatever I can before the next cold hit. Our ground has been frozen earlier, before Christmas but has thawed for some digging to be done recently. The bulbs are coming up whether I have gotten the garden ready or not, they’re like that!

  13. Cosmo says:

    Frances, you’ve been so busy! I’m really missing my garden now–I just hope we have a few clear days when I get back. Your Hamamelis is GORGEOUS–where on your property is it? Can you see it from a window?

    Hi Cosmo, funny you should ask about seeing Diane from the window, that is exactly the criteria that was used when it was planted. From my lazyboy, on line through the window at my sight level, to the spot in front of the gold mops chamaecyparis hedge is where she holds court. There is a row of deciduous azaleas that now run the length of the gold mops hedge, about fifty feet. The azaleas have been added through the years to run the full length, not the original plan, but I cannot resist them. Diane sits about in the middle and has been given her full clearance so as not to cover her beauty, even though the azaleas are bare when she is in bloom. She is a slow grower though, but worthy of that choice location.

  14. gittan says:

    I think I have to get one of these Hamamelis, it looks gourdius! Lovely post as alwys. I long for the spring to come and the possibility to cut down all the old perenials. Now we are having a very cold period, below what’s normal winter in my part of Sweden / gittan

    Hi Gittan, the Hamamelis should be growing in every garden that it is able to, for they are small and add so much at a time when any color is welcome. I do hope you can stay warm and dream of spring to come until you can get out and work in the garden!

  15. I’m just biding my time… waiting until it’s time to be able to get out there. Meanwhile, I’ve enjoyed seeing your work. πŸ™‚ Thanks!

    Hi Shady, thanks so much for that sweet item from me on your list, it touched my heart! I know there are many who cannot get out to work the soil just yet, but your time is coming, may it be soon!

  16. Siria says:

    Hi Frances! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year with your family. I have had limited computer time and am just getting back to my routine. I love all your posts, even the “housekeeping”ones. That Hamamelis is gorgeous! It is fun seeing the green sprigs coming from the ground, isn’t it?!

    Hi Siria, welcome back, we missed you! There is a lot happening just at the surface of the garden, new growth and buds looking a little larger, it is indeed so much fun seeing it all. πŸ™‚

  17. Kathleen says:

    ‘Lady Jane’ is truly to die for… I am putting her on my wish list too. Good thing I don’t live nearby, I’d be over all the time begging for cast offs. I’m still astonished at all the clean up you are doing so early in the year. But I guess it’s not early in the year for your zone, just mine! I have another month of nothing before I can think about getting out. Enjoy the nice days Frances and thanks for the warm up to spring.

    Hi Kathleen, thanks, the lady is quite a stunner! It might be early to clean up for most of my area, but I know from experience that those bulbs do not like to be stepped on as they arise from the earth. I like to be able to move freely in that bed without damaging them. If you lived nearby, your garden would be quite full, for my neighbors down the street, Mae and Mickey are very generous too. πŸ™‚

  18. Racquel says:

    I need to get out there & do the same thing Frances. I love all the photos of last spring, what gorgeous blooms. You are making me ache for spring to get here with all your teasing photos, lol. The color on ‘Diane’ makes me think of summer with those bright colors. πŸ™‚

    Hi Racquel, thanks. I also am aching for spring, and looking at the photos from last year and farther back help soothe that ache. Thank goodness for digital cameras! Diane is normally a solid red orange. I don’t know what is going on with these yellowish flowers, maybe because they are so early? Who knows?

    On my comment about your plantings, that should be Husker red, not husket red, but you knew that. And thanks for the link love.:-)

  19. This would make a great case study for the right plant for the right place. Instead of fighting the lousy soil, you’ve planted things that will thrive there. What a great inspiration.

    Hi MMD, thanks for visiting. I did in fact fight the soil in that spot for a few years, dumping mushroom compost, sand, mulch, to no avail. I finally gave in after figuring out what would work there, certainly not what I had envisioned for the only flat spot in the whole yard. The Karl F. is the centerpiece, the other grasses and rock garden plants followed.

  20. semi says:

    I need to get out there and do a little clean-up. It was so nice yesterday, I was glad to get a little done. those lady janes sure a lovely!! Love semi

    Hello dear Semi, so nice to see you here. We do need to take advantage of the nice days when they are presented to us. Flooding rains for the next couple of days are predicted. Hope your seeds don’t wash away!
    Love, Frances

  21. Brenda Kula says:

    It’s downright dreary here today. Gray and raining. No getting outside for my daily photo shoots! I was so glad to see those first photos of tulips. Something to look forward to. Spring can’t arrive soon enough!

    Hi Brenda, gray here too and mucho rain coming tomorrow, flood warnings have been posted. A good day to look at spring photos for us both!

  22. Victoria says:

    Wow, those tulips… and oh my goodness, look at those lilies! And the hamamelis! I’m succumbing to a terrible fit of jealousy here. Frances, your garden is just fabulous.

    Hi Victoria, thanks so much. But you have nothing to be jealous about with your own fabulous garden. πŸ™‚

  23. Jean says:

    Frances, maybe I missed it but what kind of grass is that in the top photos? Is it Stipa tenuissima (or is it now Nessella tenuissima or something like that)? If it is, I never cut those back. (They stay semi-green here during the winters so it seemed like too much trouble to me.) But if your bulbs deem it imperative, I guess you MUST do it!

    I just love your tulips, btw. Especially those Clusiana. When I went to order some I discovered I was too late for the year but maybe next year. I did manage to pot up a few tulips just yesterday, for the very first time. We’ll see how that goes! πŸ™‚

    Hi Jean, thanks. The grass is stipa, I don’t cut that down now, but do trim it up after the blooms get a bit ratty, maybe mid June. In time for it to grow back for the fall and winter display where they are semi green here also. What was cut back was the sedum, aster, echinacea, phlox, daylily and mum foliage, and anything else I might have forgotten was in there. That leaves the spiraea and hellebores at the edges and top and the stipa and heuchera at the corner. I order bulbs usually from Van Engelen/John Scheepers and get the order in before fall to make sure what I want doesn’t sell out. Later on, like yesterday, I buy marked down bulbs wherever I see them and stick them in a pot. There is still time for the required chill period for bloom but we are getting near the end of that time limit now. Good for you getting some tulips, they are just so wonderful with their spring blooms, even if they don’t come back. The species are much better at returning, Lady Jane is a species with a name. πŸ™‚

  24. Daylily Hill, I love the words on my tongue. Hi Frances, oh, I would love to have a ‘Daylily Hill’ it looks and sounds heavenly./ xoxo Tyra

    Hi Tyra, thanks for visiting. Those words do have a certain cache, they might make a good song or poem! Thanks for your inspiration, and we do love those greigii tulips too! πŸ™‚

  25. Frances, I’m so impressed at and inspired by your succession planting on this hill, it will give me much food for thought. For me, the Lady Janes come back much better than the species clusiana (which is too bad, since the clusiana species is much more expensive and harder to find). I suspect this has to do with soil and climate. Never mind. I love Lady Janes, closed, open, or in seedpod stage.

    Hi Pomona, thanks and welcome to the alternative universe of wordpress. The idea of succession planting is easier to think about than accomplish! There are still big gaps of down time in the gardens here, I was just thinking about the period after the spring bulbs but before the lilies and daylilies begin, we are nothing but green then in many areas. I would love to try the other clusianas too, Van Engelen has several others. Thanks for the inspiration!

  26. linda says:

    Hi Frances, What a wonderful shrub Diane is – truly stunning!

    There’s still so much green in your garden!

    The only imperative outside here involves snow blowers and shovels.

    Hi Linda, thanks for visiting. There has been much study done gazing at the winter scene here to bring evergreen, blue, gold and red into the view then. We rarely get any snow, but do get cold and are right now getting a whole lot of rain, it is good that the clearing has been done.

  27. Weeping Sore says:

    Your prodigious horticultural accomplishments are setting a bad example for me. I’m trying to take it easy. Who plays outside in January? I just realized today I should have already planted the bulbs sleeping in my fridge since November. Tomorrow, I promise!

    Hi WS, do continue to take it easy. I am a driven gardener, always finding something to do outside, it feeds my soul. January is a good time to get on top of the chores that so easily get ahead of us once the weather starts to warm. Some might think that as obsessive compulsive, they might be right. I would have trouble remembering to take bulbs out of a fridge, thank goodness nature does that for us here. I just planted tulips last weekend outside in a pot without worry of having enough chill time, but we are close to the end of that luxury.

  28. I am waiting another month before I do that cleanup at Client #1’s. Here on the mountain it is more of when the mood strikes that it might get done at all.

    Hi Christopher, welcome back, and so sorry about your series of unfortunate events. I seem to remember you saying that you were about a month behind us so the work at client #1 timing sounds about right. I really just like to get out there and improve the view from the windows where I know quality time will be spent as the rain pours.

  29. cheryl says:

    Lovely Frances, I am thrilled I found your garden. Here in the great white north the landscape is white 😦 for a few more months but you give me inspiration of a colourful Spring !

    Hi Cheryl, thanks, I am thrilled you found it too, for I can enjoy your wonderful blog! Winter is still with us, although it is quite warm, 50 F, at the moment, it will turn colder for a while longer. Our lack of snow cover means we can see these little signs of spring sooner. Bulbs sticking bravely up out of the soil are a thrill this time of year.

  30. Kylee says:

    Your garden has such lovely texture, Frances. Your hellebores are fabulous!

    I guess I’d better be checking my witch hazel soon. I see more people showing blooms on theirs. This is the first winter for mine.

    Hi Kylee, thanks so much, a high compliment coming from one with as lovely garden as you have made. Do check up close, I could not see the flowers on Diane without getting up close and personal, but my vision is horrible. It is much easier to get that macro shot when standing right next to them too! πŸ™‚

  31. joey says:

    Hamamelis β€˜Diane’ is certainly a beauty, Frances. You must to thrilled to see budding life in your garden.

    Hi Joey, thanks. Diane is so lovely and finally growing to a size to make an impact in the garden. The last two years of drought have not been kind to this water loving tree, but we are making up for that lack of rain with flooding downpours at the moment. Hope this means lots of new growth this year to promise more flowers next!

  32. I experimented with my camera today and found the macro setting. Check out the pics I took and posted today. I still need to work on them but they’re at least in focus!

    Would “Diane” grow in Atlanta? I’ve never seen such an interesting bloom. Any catalog suggestions?

    Hi Jill, good deal on your macro discovery. I found mine only last year also, on the old camera, the Kodak. I knew then to look for it on the Canon when I got it last winter. Love the winter daphne, we have that one also. Diane should grow for you. I got mine from Wayside, but check around at your better nurseries, they might have one or a similar Jelena. I would search one out potted instead of mail order, it is so much larger that way and they are so slow to grow. You have a nice nursery northeast of town, Haynes, or something like don’t you? Or just start calling from the yellow pages. Good luck. For catalogs, there is always Forestfarm, but it will be small.

  33. Dee says:

    It’s fun to see what you’re up to, Frances. I’m going to soon be busy too, but right now, I’m just trying to decide where to plant my witch hazel. I bought the darn thing don’t know where to put it.

    Your daylily hill looks grand. I do believe you have more gardens than I do.~~Dee

    Hi Dee, thanks so much. That is exciting that you got a witch hazel, they are so sweet and offer so much, but you already knew that. They like a lot of water, if you have a more moist spot but where you can still see it from inside, that would be good. πŸ™‚

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