The Firebird Returns

Aztec Firebird, that is. This was one of the first Ned Roberts spiders in my collection. Somehow, I found Kokopelli on the lily auction. I wanted a Southwestern named daylily garden so I had to have it. It was a little competitive but I wanted it!

Aztec Firebird 7.17

I was new as a daylily collector back then and didn’t know much about how online growers worked. But, I quickly figured out enough to add Aztec Firebird and Dream Catcher to my pilot garden. It worked great having them out with the yucca as long as I watered enough.

I started upscaling. I enlarged the garden and planted a lot of daylilies the next couple years. Only 12 bloomed the first year. Ugh. A few died. I put tons of topsoil but when I dug one up to see what was happening, it was embedded in our adobe dirt that apparently swallowed the top soil like quick sand.

Southwest Visions Garden

The other thing I found was tree roots crowding out the daylilies. This is the desert and they were hungry for the water I was applying daily. Eventually, I potted and buried all 70+ or them. I broke my rib pulling back on tree roots. The nursery pots didn’t do enough to keep tree roots out. So, I went to nicer pots and placed weed guard under each. And, this year, the bloom rate I believe will be the best ever. Welcome back, Firebird.

Here are today’s other premiers:

Adapting the desert to a daylily patch is a labor that love.

A Shoebox of Adobe

The way the story was told to me, the Ute Indians put a curse on white men way back when because of how they were treated by “us”.  The curse was that you had to take a shoebox of our adobe clay earth with you when you left or you were destined to always return.  I thought maybe the yucca I planted in the stuff might suffice, but I guess not because I have been back for 12 years.


SW garden after pots.jpg

Each daylily now sits in a buried pot.


I think of the curse as I dig in my Southwestern garden, installing buried pots for most of the daylilies.  That stuff is nasty.  My poor yucca – it never looked good when it was planted in that stuff.  It is either clay or cement . . . no in between.  And, I don’t water houseplants that much.  Cement.



My only bloom today: Passionate Returns


Today, I finished what I plan to finish this year as far as buried pots in the Southwest garden.  I count close to 70 pots out there.  And, 50+ in the front garden – but that is easier.  Way easier.  Now, it is musical daylily pots . . . the big decorative ones.  I literally had to figure out which one I needed to start with so the right pots would be empty for the next step.  But, this is comparatively easy work.  It should move fast.  Then, extend the side yard drip system for pots I am putting out there this year.  Finally, mulch the Southwestern garden.  Then, other than a few side duties, I can put this year to bed.  In a shoebox.  I can’t wait to hike in the desert canyons this fall.  It seems like years since spring.

Under the Surface

Today brought a good variety of color.  From the yellow-pink blooms of Pizza Crust and Pink & Cream to the deep red of Cherokee Star and Heirloom Heaven.  In the middle was pretty Indian Sky.


I am keeping a close eye on the Southwest garden since the replantings.  Some yellow leaves here and there.  Overall, they are in much better shape despite looking a bit frazzled.


It makes me think of our humanity.  Sometimes everything can look pretty perfect on the surface.  The garden had mulch and few weeds.  The sprinkler ran regularly.  And, the lilies looked pretty much OK.  But, several were too small and one died.  The bloom rate was poor and the blooms looked stunted.  I wondered about the sunlight, mostly. Something was off, but the thought of fixing what lay under the surface was something I wanted to deny.


It was odd to deny it . . . I knew what was underneath.  Somehow, I hoped top soil would be enough to get the lilies started.  I mean, maybe they could do OK in the clay . . . that is what it says on the internet.  Seriously, this Colorado Plateau clay is like an abusive, addictive relationship. Not only does it not provide nutrition, it is like cement.  I have never seen it get damp more than a couple inches below the surface.  The roots that do penetrate are stuck forever, unable to move yet starving for a better existence.


Diving under the surface and fixing the real problem is hard, hard work.  And, I am sure there is more of it ahead in this adventure.  I could continue to ignore it . . . normalize it. You know, just keep watering harder and hope somehow it corrects itself.  But, then it comes time to stop the cycle and do something different.  I hope it will pay off and that everything flourishes and blooms.  Then, it will be worth it for daylily generations to come.


Just A Flower I Can Help Along

Today was the day I finally got the Southwestern Garden mostly redone.  What a lot of work . . . seriously, my back is DONE digging for a bit.  I thought it might be fun to show a couple photos.  So, this side is the one I have been working on.  All but a handful of daylilies now rests within a nursery pot that is buried under ground.  These ones have been trimmed so that they can focus on some new roots before freeze.


And, this is the other side, where the daylilies are blooming size.  Much happier than the other side.  There used to be a pine tree out there, then a new sewer where I think they used a sandier fill dirt on the side with the happier daylilies.  Perhaps water, too.  Today, I got my soak hose system in.  I am pretty jazzed.  I think it will prove to be the best system I have ever had.  It is amazing how the clay soil is always hard and dry, no matter what.


So, today I had some great blooms.  I barely had time to notice them, but they did remind me that the backbreaking work will pay off in blooms (I hope).  (In order – Featured photo is Heirloom Heaven; Pictured first below is Passionate Returns, then Western Sandstone, Pink and Cream and Pardon Me.


I also divided daylilies for friends.  That was kind of fun, actually.  Beats digging holes in adobe clay soil with roots.  I could make a good mud house with that stuff, though.  I went through 8 big bags of soil this weekend.  Crazy!



Double Helix

Today, I believe, brought my next to last NEW bloom for 2017.  Pizza Crust, a late bloomer that I added last year.  This year, a two bud wonder.  Seriously?

At any rate, I was taken back by how it looked like a twin to Western Sandstone.  Like, can you see a difference?  Pizzacrust3.8.11.jpg

So, curiosity got the best of me.  I thought that these two had the same DNA, and while their parents were not listed, they originate from the same hybridizer.  Ah, ha . . .  I think my eye does not deceive.


Honorable mention goes to Cherokee Star, who put out a near perfect, velvet bloom today.


Today was the beginning . . . of a weekend of daylily digging and putting in pots, again.  This time the Southwest Garden.  Only the bad side.  But, that’s over 40 daylilies and the digging is hard.  Tight space, tree roots and clay below the good soil that is now full of tree roots, too.  I have 17 done and like 25 left to go.  I think I will hit the hay early and get up early to start.  I would prefer to be done or mostly done by Sunday.  I still have divisions to do for friends.  This work actually makes me look forward to snow . . . kind of.  I do wonder if I will end up with decorative pots out in that garden, too.  I guess this is a pilot.  PS – I was digging up the daylilies out there to raise the grade of the garden at exactly this time last year.   Sigh.  It never ends!

Tomorrow, I think my Ugly Daylily will be in bloom.  That is my confused Amaryllis.  Life in the garden is always full of surprises.


Peace in the Garden

The garden was cool this AM when I got up to look what was in bloom.  I needed a fleece to stay comfortable.  The scattered blooms took forever to open.   Stella has returned, after 2 months of rest.  I got Stellas last year so that I would have blooms all summer, and it has been disappointing.  I probably need to divide more often.


I like my big box Pink and Cream that has been in bloom much more frequently and is prettier – a nice offspring. It will need to be divided in the spring, for sure!


And, fun with flower photos is turning into dances with shovels.  Today, 8 more put in some sort of pot.  The Southwest garden is hard work . . . clay and tree roots.  And, odd shaped working space for digging holes.  So many left to go.  I have the worst corner done now. That’s a bit of progress.  Every time I think I have foiled my desert garden, I end up re-doing it a couple years later.  Because, when you add water and fertilizer, the natives want first dibs!

Somehow, this Gordon Lightfoot song has been going through my head all day:

There’s peace in the garden
There’s peace in the air
Peace in the sound of the river
There’s peace in the meadow
The sun shines like gold
And if she were with me
There’d be peace in my soul 

Tomorrow, maybe I’ll talk about the upward spirals from time with my daylilies.  I may have my first Western Sandstone tomorrow!

Fol de Rol

The rain came today . . . and in a big way.  For the high desert.  And, one of my two Fol de Rol buds opened.  This is one that I got on the auction, I think.  I ordered a Ned Roberts spider and the same hybridizer had this one.  The thing about postage and daylilies is that you are better off to buy more than one.  So, I liked this one!  And, I hope for more buds next year when it is in a pot.


Speaking of the pots, I did some research.  Most say that it is best to plant in-ground.  Unless, of course, your soil is clay.  Now, my front garden soil isn’t bad, but everything turns alkaline here in no time.  And, the daylilies are not native to this place, so the more native plants take over.  They like daylily roots – moisture holders in the desert.  In these cases, pots can be better.

Looking at the bloom rate and scape size around my yard, pots are better. The Southwest garden (fortunately) has fewer competitors.  And, most the plants are decent sized and healthy.  Some put on quite a show this summer out there!

So, one of the other things I learned about pots is that you can move them.  Well, I knew that.  But, I hadn’t really thought about moving the ones in the front garden because they are (or will be) partially buried.  But, it did occur to me that if I want to add a new flower and give away one that I am less crazy about, it will be a ton easier.

That brings to mind the chore of dividing a few pots.  And, some I want to have in two places.  Jungle Queen, Mesa Verde, and Canyon Colors, for sure.  All three are evergreen, so the grand experiment is to see how they do if they are left out all winter.  They are big enough, I think they stand a decent chance.  While I am developing 3 new daylily areas, neither is that big.  Eventually, I will run out of space!